I don’t think that my parents would have predicted that they would have a child in art school. My father, a technological man, and my mother, who spent most of my childhood as a stay-at-home mom, can hardly be considered the artistic type. They never enrolled me in an art class, or encouraged me to pursue creative outlets. Instead, they forced my non-athletic, twiggy self into six years of little-league softball. In high school, they hung their heads in shame as I traded in my catcher’s gear for play scripts. They winced when I asked for rides to art shows. My senior year, my dad scolded me for not taking calculus.
By the time I applied for college, it was clear that things weren’t going to change. While they were relieved that I was hesitant to make a career out of the fine arts, I remember the exasperated expression on my father’s face when I told him that I wanted to pursue animation and filmmaking. It was only with my keen knowledge of the film industry, as I recklessly pulled up numbers and gross figures, that my parents grudgingly accepted the fact that I could pursue art and make money—if I were lucky.
Because I didn’t have much support from my parents, art was something that I had to completely self-teach. I found my inspiration mostly through contemporary filmmakers, practically idolizing directors such as Stephen Spielberg, Geoerge Lucas, John Hughes, Wes Anderson, the Coen Brothers, and Hayao Miyazaki. Above all, I worship the senior creative team at Pixar. Most of my daydreams revolve around working along side with John Lasseter, grabbing lunch with Andrew Stanton, and just chillin’ with Brad Bird.
Sometimes, my admiration for such people brings fault to my work. The biggest challenge I have as an artist is my lack of self-confidence. I tend to look at such accomplished filmmakers and wonder how I can reach their levels, both in quality and conceptually. I know it is nonsensical to compare myself to such famed people, but it is in my nature to push myself beyond my natural limits, to have grandiose aspirations for my work and goals set so high that even some of the most famed people in the industry have not reached them.
In the end, I just want to be a storyteller. I want to explore the dark, complex sides of humanity. I’m interested in the motivation and psychology behind emotion, especially mixed feelings like anticipation and disappointment. I want to pursue the ideas of luck and karma, and I would like to find out if fate really exists. I like to experiment with various forms of animation, so I can tell stories about people in surreal and abstract ways. I would like to be a formalist who does not abandon meaning, and a postmodernist with hope for humanity, a hope that is buried under all my discontent.
Despite negative feelings, however, I feel that I have succeeded at finding out who I am, not just as an artist, but as an individual as well. I know what values I hold, and how I would like my art to portray such ideals. At this point, I am only struggling to find a comfortable method for doing so. I have While I see myself as a pessimist, I do believe that I will be able to solve such a problem.
Sometimes, I like to put my artistic identity crisis aside. For now, I continue to bemuse my parents, thriving in my uncertainties and insecurities, watching them squirm, smiling slyly to myself.