Ep.147: Victoria Ying on how to make a portfolio for animation studios

By Iva Mikles •  Updated: May 28, 2018 •  Interviews

Hey, guys! In this episode, I am chatting with Victoria Ying, author, and artist from LA. Her film credits include Tangled, Wreck it Ralph, Frozen, Paperman, Big Hero 6, and Moana. She was featured in the book Lovely – Ladies in Animation.

Get in touch with Victoria

Key Takeaways

“Be unique and be special, that means being yourself in the best way possible!”

Resources mentioned

💡 Please note: We are supported by our readers. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you! For more info, please read our disclosure.

Special thanks to Victoria for joining me today. See you next time!

All artworks by Victoria Ying, used with permission

Episode Transcript

Announcer  

Creative, artistic, happy! That’s you. There are endless possibilities for living a creative life. So let’s inspire each other. Art Side of Life interviews with Iva.

Iva Mikles  

Hello, everyone, and welcome back to the next episode of Art Side of Life where I chat with inspiring artists and create variety of art related videos. My name is Iva, and my guest today is Victoria Ying. And in this episode, you will learn all some tips for building your portfolio and how you should prepare it for the big studios.

Victoria Ying  

I’d really recommend looking at our notebooks and that way you can really see what the taste of the studio is. If you look at an artist book from Dreamworks, it’s completely different than an artist book from Pixar. And it’s not just like a book thing. It’s actually the art directors who are picking those pieces that go into the book. So this is a good way for you to kind of feel out the taste of the studio that you’re going for.

Iva Mikles  

Big there is an author and artist living in Los Angeles. She started her career in the arts by falling in love with comic books. This eventually turned into a career in working in animation. Victoria’s film credits include tangled Wreckit, Ralph Rosen, Paperman, Big Hero Six, and Juana. Her current work focuses on storytelling with her debut picturebook, meow, and many other novel and graphic novel projects in development. So please welcome Victoria Yang. And let’s get to the interview. Welcome, everyone to the next episode of art side of live and I’m super excited to have Victoria here. Hi.

Victoria Ying  

Hi, how are you guys doing?

Iva Mikles  

Oh, perfect. I’m super glad that you joined us here. And let’s just start directly with your background. And maybe you can share some creative outlets will be heard as a child and when was the time when you decided, okay, I want to take this professionally.

Victoria Ying  

Great. Yeah, so I was always really interested in art. When I was a kid, I kind of had a talent for it. But I never really took it seriously until high school when I started getting really into comic books, I really started reading the Japanese manga. So like Ranma one half was my favorite manga when I was in high school. And the thing I loved about it was that it was this creator own story. Like, she was the writer and the illustrator. And, you know, she kind of it felt very much like a personal piece of artwork that we were able to kind of participate in. And at that point is when I realized like, oh, yeah, this person, this is their job, like, this is what they do for a living. So I decided then that I really wanted to pursue art. And I in high school, I started taking art classes outside of school, just to try to see where in the arts I wanted to be, I think I thought I wanted to become, but I, you know, my mom was very of the mind that I should explore and kind of see what else is out there. So took classes in like product design and graphic design and all kinds of things basically just to kind of get a taste for like what the professional artwork art world looked like. And then I realized I really just love drawing figures, I love drawing people and telling stories that way. So I ended up going into illustration when I went to school. So illustration was such a great program at my college Art Center College of Design, because it really taught you like the fundamentals of communication. And then I was lucky enough to be able to be part of the a new minor program that specialized in entertainment design. So that was really cool. And it was really helpful for me to see that like the job that I wanted in comics, like although it’s it was a little more difficult to achieve back then, like there was a way for me to tell stories with pictures. And that was through concept art. So I went through that program, and then I started pursuing animation after that.

Iva Mikles  

And so how was it for you, you know, to go through the program and kind of like, how were you selected for Aiden? And maybe How did you land your first artistic job? Because sometimes it’s really like, Okay, do you apply? Do they find you and

Victoria Ying  

yeah, for sure. So for the program, it was an application process. And they it was really interesting because I thought I had to be really really great at my skill set before they’d accept me but it kind of turned out that they had a very open mind about what they wanted and They were much more interested in people who had good ideas more than necessarily the seals, because, you know, they figured it. So even though it wasn’t super confident in my portfolio when I applied like they definitely saw something and accepted me to the program. And then after I graduated, my first job was at Walt Disney Imagineering, which, if you hear that name, it sounds like I worked on the parts. But at the time, they were actually trying to develop, I guess what we now call mobile games, like casual mobile games, something active and like web based and for kids. And at the time, like, they didn’t have a particular division that was making that so then it kind of went to Imagineering. So I was there just developing this game with doing characters backgrounds, like a lot of the same stuff that I ended up doing for big studios. And then I was there for about a year. And I knew about this Disney training program. And I had applied when I graduated, but it didn’t get it. And then I decided to try again, because you have three years from when you graduate in order to get it. So I applied the second time. And then the second time with a new portfolio and some more new work, I actually got accepted. So that’s how I got started at Disney.

Iva Mikles  

Perfect. And I’m sure like a lot of people from the audience, they will be more interested as well like, Okay, well, how do I prepare the portfolio if you have some dibs, like, what is important that will the people look for,

Victoria Ying  

for sure. So, biggest portfolio tip, if you’re looking to go work at a big studio, like Disney, or DreamWorks or Pixar is to kind of know what they’re looking for, I’d really recommend looking at art of books. And that way you can really see what the taste of the studio is. If you look at an artist book from Dreamworks, it’s completely different than an art book from Pixar. And it’s not just like a book thing, it’s actually the art directors who are picking those pieces that go into the book. So this is a good way for you to kind of feel out the taste of the studio that you’re going for. Like for example, DreamWorks tends to be a little bit more detailed and more realistic and very rendered. And if all your work is like pastel drawings and stuff, it probably isn’t going to be a good fit there. But if you look at Pixar as work, like their stuff is a little looser, it’s a little bit more color and feeling based. So if that’s something that you think that your artwork has, then that might be a better place for you. Or let’s say that you could do both those things, then it’s a good way for you to start honing your portfolio per studio. I think that’s the other thing, too, I really recommend doing your research and having a portfolio for each studio instead of just having one portfolio. Because everyone’s looking for something different. And in order for you to really tailor your work to the place that you’re applying, you know, like, I wouldn’t recommend applying to Disney with like, you know, gruesome monsters or like, you know, girls and bikini armor, you know, like, it’s not really a thing that they make. And even though you might do that really well, it’s probably, you know, not something that they’re gonna respond well to.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, and would you also separate portfolios for a character design and the environment art, like maybe bizdev, and concept and all of that, if you decide to, for example, apply to Disney?

Victoria Ying  

You know, I think that that really depends on you as an artist. That’s definitely something I get questioned about a lot. And because I’m someone who does both, I was considered a generalist at the studio, I was never like a character designer, but I was visited. And sometimes I did characters, the people who are character designers strictly, that’s all that they do. And I think if you’re a beach or at least a Disney because I, we have a perspective, I think it’s really important to be able to draw characters, not necessarily as a designer, but to communicate with them. So like, I find that some of the most effective is to have pieces are ones that have characters reacting and have storytelling in it that way. So if you want to be more of a generalist, I would kind of put in both. But if you kind of looking to be a character designer, then I would maybe just stick to characters. And I think that the overall thing that I want to stress is actually don’t put anything in that you didn’t love making. Because if you get hired for that thing, then you’re going to hate it. So you know, there’s that and then the other part of it is that you’re only as good as the worst piece in your portfolio. And people can tell if you didn’t like me, like you think that oh, it looks pretty good. And yeah, maybe it does. But I think that you know, as an audience, you can always sense it. If the person who made it had fun, or if the person who made it, like enjoyed that. So like, I actually looked at a lot of portfolios when I was working at Disney, and one of the things that would always stand out was like when people would put in something that they just didn’t care about, but someone told them that they had to have in their portfolio like, I don’t know, like someone had an environment, but they were clearly a character designer. And I felt every time that I saw that it was always like, oh, like, why you feel stopped? And you’d be like, oh, like, do you think this is good? Because all your other work is great. And this is just kind of okay. And then it kind of brings into question your taste, like, do you know what’s good, and I think that that ends up being a problem. So I think that like, if you’re a character designer, and you don’t like doing environments, don’t put them in. And if you’re a environment designer, who doesn’t like doing characters, like don’t put them in, because they’re gonna stick out like a sore thumb. Because if you’re really good in environments, and you’re kind of so so at characters, like high beds, I always kind of think of a portfolio as like a, like a first date, you know, it’s like you, you want to put your best self forward, you want to be yourself, you know, you don’t want to be pretend to be someone you’re not. But at the same time, it’s like, you want to put forth the best version of yourself. So yeah,

Iva Mikles  

there are also people discussing sometimes like, Oh, should you put description what you actually mean by this piece, or for the just put solely like just artworks.

Victoria Ying  

Um, personally, I like to look at art books, not just for their informative aspects, but also for their graphic design. Most illustrators are not graphic designers, we are bad at putting images on a page, you know, like, we don’t really understand what we’re making in terms of a flat piece of graphic art. So I always like to look at the art of books as an example for like, here’s how to arrange pictures and words. And words are actually really helpful, because I think they break up the page. And, I mean, honestly, like, when we were designing the book for lovely, I made everyone write descriptions of their art. And a lot of people were like, well, I don’t, I don’t know what to write about this. And I’m like, I don’t know, just say that you like the color purple, like, I really don’t care. But we need chunks of text in this to make the page look good. Like, it’s like a balancing thing. And for me, I think that, you know, I recommend putting text in, but not necessarily for the text sake, like, I don’t know that anyone’s gonna read it. But I do think it helps make the page look nice. And helps kind of make it feel like a finished piece. Like, when you’re because you’re making a book, like essentially, a portfolio is a book. So you, it feels more like a real book, and less like just a bunch of images put together in a, you know, like a photo album. I think that that makes you feel more professional and kind of puts you higher, and puts you more on the same playing field as all the other, you know, artists who have been working for a decade, even if you don’t necessarily have as much artwork. That’s the other good thing about it too, is you can kind of pad your portfolio a little bit with text. But again, like this is something you have to kind of do delicately, because like if you kind of ham fisted ly just put text in it, it’s not gonna look good, either. So yeah, I know, it’s a weird kind of answer. But no, but my personal feeling

Iva Mikles  

either totally makes sense. Because also, as you mentioned it, it looks more professional. And it’s more like a final product, basically. So you’re present thing like a book and layout, and it’s all good. It kind of goes together, right?

Victoria Ying  

Yeah, yeah, totally. And, you know, one of my biggest criticism is that people’s book is always flow, you know, it’s like, do you understand the way that the person who’s reading this is going to consume it, it’s like, you may think that you put your best pieces in here. But is there a rhythm to it. And like, when you’re looking at a real book, like a artif book, you can kind of see the way that they break up a page from like, Oh, here’s a page of sketches. And now here’s a page of here’s a full page spread of a beautiful painting. And now here’s, like four different little colored pieces. And I think that’s also a good thing to reference when you’re making your portfolio. Just so that way, when someone looks at your book, that they feel that they’re not looking at, like 80 pages of sketches in a row, you know, it’s like you kind of want to keep them interested. Like, it’s almost like a song.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. So you can have some kind of order and as you said, logical flow to the Yeah. And what helped you the most maybe to develop your art skills, you know, something when you had like a aha moment, like, Oh, if I do this, that everything looks much better.

Victoria Ying  

Huh, I mean, I do think that like, having good mentors was really, really helpful. When I was at Disney and their program, they assign you a mentor. And you know, I just got lucky that the two people that got picked for me were just the right temperament and really different from each other. So then it really helped me to kind of develop both sides of my creative personality. Um, I would definitely recommend trying to find a mentor. And sometimes like, that’s hard if you’re not like in a community that has a big animation network, or if you’re not in a place where there’s a lot of people who are kind of above you skill wise. But, you know, I think that face to face meeting and trying to network and even creating those opportunities for yourself, like, maybe trying to put together sketch groups or critique groups and stuff like that, I think that that kind of feedback is really great. And finding those people who are your peers, and peer mentors are also really important. And trying to find someone who like gets you because I think that, you know, we get caught up in thinking that like, all art criticism has the same way and the same value. But if the person who’s looking at your work doesn’t understand you, or doesn’t understand you as an artist, or where you want to go you want to make, I think that it’s really hard to like, listen to them on a critical level, because they’re not really, necessarily with you. So I think that, you know, finding a good mentor is really difficult. And it’s like, a long process. But I think that like, if you manage to find good one, then that is just like, worth four times college education.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, because they they also they can explain the array the structure of learning and improving step by step or pointing out the things which you should work on at that moment. Right.

Victoria Ying  

Yeah. And, you know, I think that my own mentors, like they got me from two differences perspective. So I think that’s another thing to consider, like, maybe one of your mentors can really help you with storytelling or in one of your mentors really helps you with your skills. But, you know, finding someone who’s supportive and really interested in you, as an artist, and someone you get along with, I think that that’s really important. I’ve done a couple of mentoring programs like online ones, where, you know, you get to kind of get matched up with a mentee and then work that way. And I’ve had some success with it. But again, it really does feel like this process where it’s like, sometimes you gel chemically, and sometimes you don’t. So I think that like having a big network and, you know, don’t necessarily be like, Hey, will you be my mentor? Because that’s weird. You want to kind of like, make friends with somebody who you admire? And who you whose work you really like and who you’d like to emulate. So, yeah, I don’t know, I guess it’s a really long answer to try to find a mentor. Make friends with them, and try to find someone who like really understands you and what you’re trying to do

Iva Mikles  

your career goals and kind of the efficient pursuit, right. Yeah. Before we continue, let’s take a little break. Because many of you have been asking me about recommendations for different tools and resources to help you out with many different things like studying finding inspiration, overcoming artistic blog, managing your time and freelance. So I decided from now on in the episodes, I will share with you some of my favorite things which helped me a lot and I’m sure they can help you out do so let’s go take a look. So the first one is all the roll, which is a largest audio bookstore out there with more than 100,000 audiobooks, and I love listening to stories and learning from books. And even if you’re another book reader, this is a great way to get the knowledge and advice from books just by listening. It would be a shame to miss out on all the great tips if you just don’t like to read. I usually listen to audiobooks while I’m traveling doing housework or painting. It’s very relaxing, and I learned a lot. With this awesome, you can get free 30 days trial, which is like getting free books. So try it out for yourself and go to artsideoflife.com/or the road. The next one is for all the freelancers and studio owners out there. It’s called FreshBooks. And it’s an invoice and accounting software that is super easy to use and significantly cuts your time needed for invoicing, getting paid, tracking expense time tracking and making proposals. great part about this is that with few clicks, you can export all important data for your tax declaration to and you can get a free trial 30 days to test it out for yourself do so go through artsideoflife.com/fresh books. The last one is trusted house sitters. And as you may already know, I love traveling to refresh my inspiration and avoid art books. But my budget doesn’t allow it so often. Fortunately, I discovered trusted house eaters website where you can do the petty thing and live for free like a local. I love dogs and cats and all kinds of animals so it’s great win win. In this way. It’s only about buying a flight ticket or travel there by car. Accommodation is for free. And you can have great fun with animals. And you can also throw them and practice your animal anatomy skills. It also works for those of you who have pet, and are looking for pet sitters to be able to travel. So check it out at artsideoflife.com/ehf, you will find more artistic resources, tips and tools used by me or mentioned in the interviews at artsideoflife.com/resources. So go check it out. And just to let you know, some of the links are affiliate links, which means I will get paid a small commission if you decide to purchase through them, but absolutely no added cost to you. And in this way, you get the chance to support Art Side of Life, which I really appreciate. And now let’s go back to the interview. And when you mentioned also the networking, how do you do your networking or everything is from school and the location? Or is it as the you mentioned, sketch class and conventions?

Victoria Ying  

Yeah, oh, conventions are such a big one. You know, CTN is really great for meeting new people. And Comic Cons too. It just depends kind of on the industry that you’re looking at. But I do think that cones are a great way to network. And yeah, like sketch groups and meetups, those are always really good. It depends, though, like kind of on who goes to those. Because like, you can have different crowds and each one and sometimes like if you’re in a big city like LA, some, you might need to like try a couple of them to find like your people. And, you know, for me, right now I’m pursuing writing. And so it’s a much more lonely kind of existence. So I need that networking aspect. Because otherwise, I’m just like here alone in my office. So like, I’ve really had to reach out and make that a much bigger part of my my lifestyle. Whereas like, when I was working in a studio, it was a lot easier, because we just be like, Hey, you want to get lunch? You know, like, put together a lunch group and whatever. And it’s like, now it’s like, no, it has to be a thing. And, you know, I’ve learned that it’s actually not that hard. People mostly want to hang out, especially people who do kind of lonely jobs, like, you know, an artist or a writer, because, you know, so much of what it is, is not interacting with people so much. It’s just sitting in front of the computer and producing a thing. And so it’s really great to be able to connect, and, you know, remember that we’re telling stories about people and you know, we should go home all the time. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Like, you can’t really tell an honest story if you don’t, like live live, so yeah.

Iva Mikles  

And so how do you plan your day or week? You know, like, do you have also like the social events and maybe do something daily, which contributes your sexes, like meditation, or,

Victoria Ying  

I mean, I really want to get good at meditation, I’m just not good at it. Like, I’m very easily distracted.

Iva Mikles  

You need a guide.

Victoria Ying  

Yeah, I’ve tried some of those apps before. Anyways, I really wish I was good at that. My own daily routine is I do have a bullet journal, which helps me a lot. When I was working in the studio, it was really different because your day was very structured. And I would go in and be like, Oh, I don’t know I’m doing today. And then like 15 minutes later, someone would come in and be like, here’s what you’re doing and be like, okay, cool. And I wouldn’t have to worry about it so much. But now that I’m working on my own, and all the deadlines are more spread out, it’s like, I have to figure out a system for myself, because it’s just not given to you anymore. I have a project manager, someone who’s like, here’s what you should be doing. And here’s when it’s due. And here’s when people are coming. So it’s kind of like, you have to do that for yourself. And that’s, it’s a learning curve. But yeah, so I do a bullet journal. And I tried to every morning and I tried to figure out like, Okay, here’s my projects that I’m working on. And then here are the ones that are due either this week or next week. And then I start blocking out my time based on that. Like maybe I’m gonna do Monday morning is gonna be for this product. And then Tuesday morning will be for this project. Yeah, and again, this is very much from a freelancers lifestyle, because it’s different. If you’re in a studio, I also try to make time for lunches, like I try to go out with people and I try to connect and network and meet with people who I am inspired by creatively. And a lot of times that doesn’t necessarily mean people who are doing what I’m doing. You know. I have friends who are screenwriters, my friends who are book illustrators, and people who are just doing cool work that I think is really inspiring. And that energy is something that I really need to be around especially as a freelancer. So because it’s so easy to just kind of end up like, ah, you know, it’s fine. Yeah, and it’s a unique that energy that spark in order to kind of keep pushing yourself. Yeah. And

Iva Mikles  

how was the transition for you, you know, to go from, like working a lot with us to do work and working on books and all of that.

Victoria Ying  

I think that the biggest transition is definitely the organizational stuff like you end up being your own business. And a lot of times working in a studio shields you from a lot of that, like, you don’t really have to worry about, Oh, what am I getting paid? Or oh, when? What time are my meetings? Oh, when is this due? Like, you actually have to do all that stuff for yourself when you’re freelancing. And I think that that, that transition, took me a while. But it’s definitely something that now that I’ve learned how to do it is really rewarding. And I feel like now that I have this system, even if I went back to a studio, I’d probably keep it because I think that it’s very efficient and helpful, and makes me less stressed out because I don’t have to worry about stuff. I’m like, oh, it’s all in the book. Okay, here’s, here’s where these projects are. So yeah.

Iva Mikles  

And so what are your now incomes? Or, you know, like, kind of how do you combine your income streams, you know, either selling from books, or art brains? Or how do you do the combination?

Victoria Ying  

Well, right now, I’m working on a lot of personal projects, I have a novel and I have a graphic novel I’m working on. And like a lot of short stories, and, you know, like, I’m trying to build something towards a big project that I could sell. And I haven’t gotten there yet. But like, that’s kind of my major investment that I’m putting into it. And I know that it’s not like my my flow of income is not the same as it was when I was in studio because I have this different focus. I am still working freelance for books, and film and TV. But it’s, it’s a little easier for me now, because since I work from home, I can chunk out my time a little bit better, so that I can also focus on kind of my big projects. Yeah.

Iva Mikles  

And then you can also, as you mentioned, like working on the bigger project, you can put aside I don’t know a year, so you planned on it before, so you can like save the money and you know, like, Okay, this is the working time. So yeah, sure. So everything planning in advance.

Victoria Ying  

Yeah, yeah, it took me a while to end up leaving the studios, mostly because of that, like, just to try to make sure that I knew what I was doing. And that I had enough of a like safety net in case things didn’t work out. And my first year, actually, maybe first two years, I had this problem where I would take so much freelance that I was basically working a full time job, which kind of was like, Well, why did I leave? Like, I hadn’t benefits? They’re like, this is hard. But, you know, this year, I’m really working on recentering still work for me and sent me all the way around?

Iva Mikles  

Definitely. So how does your you know artistic process look like when you’re creating new RFPs? Or even the bigger project this book? Like? Do you do a lot of, you know, story nodes is a written ones? Or do you do like sketches, or thumbnails or color palettes, mood boards.

Victoria Ying  

I mean, for artwork, if I’m making something that’s like, based on a story already, like if I have a screenplay, and it’s like a story illustration, I read through the screenplay, and I just try to, like, feel what the images are that come to me. And a lot of times those come up very fully formed, like, I’m like, Oh, I have a very clear picture of what I want to illustrate. And then at that point, I kind of start sketching and try to make that image fit the one that’s in my head. If I’m not lucky enough to have that, then I definitely go into the research. By character design is something that like is hugely research and I have to do a lot of Googling, and, you know, trying to watch movies, I think that’s something that I really tried to do is when I tried to do story, illustration, or work on character designs, I tried to watch films that not necessarily that look like the thing I’m trying to make, in fact, that’s probably not helpful. What is helpful is finding like that personality and that character, and what they act and feel like and that way I get a much more clearer idea of who they are as a person, and how I want to express that. So that’s where I start with that those types of things. Otherwise, sometimes, like, if I’m just like, I want to make something but I’m not sure what I have huge folders and Pinterest that are just like, these are pretty pictures and then just looking at them inspires me and I’m like, oh, I want to go to Paris or oh, I want to you know, go into a candy shop or something. So like having that kind of feeling is really helpful too.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. And then when you are creating some artworks, do you have a you know, the the most important part for you? Is it the layout or the character or as you mentioned, the feeling the connection with the audience, or do you try to level everything out?

Victoria Ying  

I think that for me, the most important thing is the story or the emotion, the mood, kind of. So if I’m doing illustration, the main thing I want to communicate is how does the character feel. So I try to start with the character. And I placed the character first on the page, wherever I feel like it’s going to communicate the best, right? So it’s like, if I want to be looking up at the character that I sketched the character, where I’m kind of in a down view, looking up at them, and then I build the environment around that the environment is not the most important thing, because you’re not really going to look at it, honestly, you’re gonna look at the character, and you’re gonna see the environment. But it all has to feed into this one message and mood and story. So like, if the story is that everything cooks something, I don’t know, like a love story, right? And it’s like, you want to feel like, Oh, this is something where these two characters are meeting for the first time, like, how do they feel in that moment? And then how do you best communicate that? So at first draw the characters draw kind of their positions and their expression? And then build everything else around that to to emphasize that point?

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, because some people also weren’t like from the environment point of view, and then they adjust the characters to the environment, how they interact with the environment. So it’s always interesting to see how people think and how they start their process. Yeah, yeah, definitely. And is there something you wish you knew before you started your whole artistic career?

Victoria Ying  

Hmm.

Victoria Ying  

I think that, like if I was to do it again, I wasn’t really focused and serious student and, you know, it was really focused on art. And I wish that I had been more open to other things like not necessarily, like not been focused on art, but to experience the world and to be more interested in different aspects of life. Because I think that my focus didn’t make everything feel very derivative for a while. And it wasn’t until I opened myself up to being like a fully realized person that like, I could actually make artwork that was not just skilled artwork, but it was also something that had something to say. So, you know, I didn’t get back into reading novels until after college. And I feel like, I wish that I’d really stuck with reading and kept my imagination in terms of storytelling really going even though I was focused on skills. Because I think that that in the end has really made me a much better artists, because I’m able to build pictures in my mind. And I’m also reading different things like I read a lot of fiction, but I also read a lot of nonfiction. And a lot of my ideas, and a lot of the pictures in my head come from, you know, reading nonfiction, because it’s like, oh, well, I just finished reading. Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, which is like, such an interesting book, but also, like, so many interesting ideas about characters and people and interaction and the complexity of, you know, human relationship. And I think that, I wish that when I was starting out, I had more of that. So then, I didn’t struggle so much when I left school, because I do think that a lot of my artwork, and a lot of the artwork I see from new students is very shallow. And that depth, I think, is really important to making you a fully realized artist. And it’s helpful to you know, make it so that your artwork actually has something to say.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, some some message there. And as we mentioned, connection with audience, right, yeah. And when we talked about also these, like, going through the art career, what would you consider is the most difficult time in your art career? Because usually, that’s the time where we learned the most and maybe what was the key takeaway from that story.

Victoria Ying  

So because I’m such a competitive and focused kind of artist, it was really easy for me to not easy, but you know, it was really clear to me how to move forward in my career until I got to a certain point when I was working with Studios, where I started to feel like, oh, no, what? Like, I had this really weird moment where I was out of school, I had the job that I wanted to have. And okay, now what, you know, I no longer had a goal, I no longer had a thing to work toward there was no longer like a time limit. You know, it wasn’t like, oh, we have four years in school. And now you have a two year apprenticeship. And now you have, you know, this, it’s like, well, now, this is just it. And I think that that was a really tough hurdle for me to overcome as an artist, because just like having those types of very focused very clear goals, was what was driving me a lot. And I think that once that went away, I had to really reevaluate, like, what do I really want? What do I want in my life and what did I want from my art? And yeah, so I think that that ended up being kind of a soul searching moment and one that I am really happy with where I ended up but it’s definitely was something I didn’t expect. Yeah, so yeah.

Iva Mikles  

So it’s more to research as well. What are your next goals in your art career? Right? What do you want to do afterwards?

Victoria Ying  

Yeah, it’s, um, it’s like the art career, but also like, what do you what do you want from your life? And I think that that, that is something that I don’t think we necessarily think or talk about much because it is so hard to make it as an artist, it’s really, really hard to get to that point where it’s like, okay, well, this is my career now. And I think that like, because we end up so focused, because we try so hard to, to make that happen. It could be really hard for you to zoom out and just see like, this is actually my life. And it wasn’t I was dissatisfied with it. But it was something that for me, like, I was like, maybe you might I was 25 or something. And I was like, oh, okay, and now how do I move forward without a goal? So yeah, that was definitely like a challenging moment for me.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. But the, it’s great that you found what do you want to do afterwards? And so that’s amazing. And what about like, super far, far future? And, you know, like, what would you like to do in like, five to 10 years, like, dream scenario, you know, you cannot fail? How you want?

Victoria Ying  

Oh, my God. Yeah, I mean, there’s so many things. And I really, I really want to make my, I really want to make the storytelling thing work. So, you know, I have my book, and I have my graphic novel, and I’d love to get those published. And, you know, it’s kind of tough to say because, like, you don’t want to jinx it. But you know, I’d love to actually, like see them also reproduced in a different medium. So like, if my graphic novel gets made, I’d really like to see what what happened to it as a film or as, you know, something like that. So, but I’m just more interested in telling the stories that I have to tell, like, I have so many things that I have so many ideas. Like this year, I was writing another novel, and I was like, Okay, well, what am I going to do? And it wasn’t like, I had to find a story. I have like a list of 50 outlines that are like done. And I’m like, which of these should I make, you know, so it’s like, I would love to just be able to be at a point where I could write whatever story I wanted to write, like, if I wanted to write the story that I have about time traveling, which covens like, I just could, and someone would buy it, and it would be good. You know, that’s the kind of thing that I’d really like to see.

Iva Mikles  

It’ll be perfect. I mean, I’m looking forward to see that. I am sure that it will happen because you’re like, so dedicated, and you will go for it. So yeah. If you look to super far, far future, you know, like 100 years, you know, drones flying around. What would they be, you know, remembered for?

Victoria Ying  

I think, yeah, my storytelling. I think I’d like people to remember kind of just the the interesting stories I wanted to tell and be entertained by them, and then maybe for them to connect to some people. Yeah.

Iva Mikles  

Oh, it would be nice. Yeah, definitely. Because then you can have the connection with the story, then. Yeah, everything else like works around with Yeah. And before we say goodbye, and finish, maybe you can share last piece of advice or key takeaway, and then we will slowly and

Victoria Ying  

I think that one of the big things I’d like to recommend to people who want to get into this field and want to be successful artists is be unique and be special. And that usually means being yourself, and then yourself in the most, in the best way possible. So develop your other interests, like find the weird thing that you’re really into, like if you’re actually really into making ceramics, like, make some ceramics and try to see like how that can fit into your portfolio in some way. Because those types of things like they change the way your brain works. And that’s actually really cool. Because if you have the same brain as everyone else, then why would they pick you. And, you know, if you want to get picked for a job, but you have to be special, you have to bring something new to the table. And you’re not going to be able to do that if all you’re doing is kind of looking at animation, art and reproducing Animation Art. So I would recommend like, read more. Go to museums, find artists who you’re interested in, who are not working in your field, but who are maybe like sculpture, you know, sculptors or I don’t know, like calligraphers, you know, like artwork that is maybe not exactly what you’re doing. So then the input that you have will make your output more interesting.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, because definitely everyone also has a different background. And no, you can bring all your experiences to the art. Yeah,

Victoria Ying  

definitely. Yeah. So thank

Iva Mikles  

you so much, again, for being here. It was so fun. Yeah, thank you. And thanks, everyone who joined today as well, and I’ll see you in the next episode. Hey, guys, thank you so much for listening. I really appreciate you being here. You can find all the resources mentioned in this episode at artsideoflife.com. Just type a guest name in the search bar. There is also a couple of free artists resources ready for you on the website as well. So go check it out. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe and leave a review on iTunes or Stitcher so I can reach and inspire more artists like you. If you want to watch the interviews, head over to artsideoflife.com/youtube. Continue to inspire each other and I will talk to you guys in the next episode. Bye.

Announcer  

Thanks for listening to the Art Side of Life podcast at www.artsideoflife.com

Hi, I am Iva (rhymes with “viva”). I am an artist, illustrator, founder of Art Side of Life®, and Top Teacher on Skillshare. Since 2009 I've worked as an illustrator, character designer, art director, and branding specialist focusing on illustration, storytelling, concepts, and animation. I believe that we are all creative in infinite numbers of ways, so I've made it my mission to teach you everything I know and help either wake up or develop your creative genius. Learn more about me.

Recommended: