Initially I went to college for engineering and, in that same year, I flunked out. I had to face the fact that I was horrible at math and it made me feel really bad about myself. Since I had always had a distaste for school, this was my tipping point. The whole experience destroyed my self-esteem, and I felt like I would never be able to contribute to society.
It was really my wife that pushed me to be an artist. I was first inspired to try doing art when I visited San Francisco and saw spray paint art on the street. Their ability to quickly create planets and landscapes in just minutes was inspiring to me. Since I was only 16, I had to ask my now mother-in-law to buy me spray paint after school so I could make posters to sell the next day. Later during my senior year of high school, I signed up for a ceramics class. I wasn’t interested in the subject initially, but I needed my art requirement to graduate and I thought the class would be easy. Midway through that semester my passion for art was truly realized. My wife brought up the idea of doing it as a career, but I brushed her off thinking that pursuing art wasn’t a practical option. When I failed my third engineering class in college, she really began pushing me to do what she knew I would be much happier doing. There was a lot of fear keeping me from leaving engineering for art. I worried that I wouldn’t be able to support myself because I still believed in the idea of the “starving artist.” Thankfully she won me over.
My parents were really not onboard about me being an artist. I had no artists in my family, and none of us even knew of any artists besides Bob Ross. Being the son of immigrant parents I now understand their initial hesitance. They sacrificed a lot to give their future kids the opportunity to live here and pursue meaningful careers. It took a lot of convincing to get them to help me go back to school for art. There was a lot of pressure the next time around to make something of myself.
While working at Costco and pursuing my fine art degree during the day, I taught myself digital painting online at night. I sketched on my lunches and breaks, bought all the online classes and videos I could afford, and reached out to artists I looked up to see how I could improve. Each nugget of information I found was incredibly valuable and to this day I still appreciate any opportunity to learn. It took me almost two years of constant effort after graduating until I got my start on the Disney Jr. series Puppy Dog Pals. Bow to the wow!
To this day, it’s still hard to believe what I get to do for a living. It’s truly a privilege to work in the animation industry with such incredible people. It feels like just yesterday I was day dreaming about what it would be like. I worked past a lot of fear, doubt, and obstacles until I got to where I am now. If you ever feel like reaching your dreams is too far away or impossible, I hope my story will motivate you to reach your full potential.