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Art & Life with Chelsea Lee

Today we’d like to introduce you to Chelsea Lee.

Chelsea, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
I came from a family of immigrants from Indonesia who moved to California. There, like a lot of first-generation Asian parents, academics was very important. My brother and I was constantly put into after school tutoring, SAT Prep, encouraged to take as many AP classes in order to get into a “reputable” college. But since young, I’ve always loved drawing, I drew every day during class and even set up my own Youtube to record my digital drawing process. Inspired by anime and video games, I always enjoyed drawing characters from imagination. However, my parents always reminded me that art is just a hobby. My family moved to Shanghai for my father’s work, and I entered an international school called “Shanghai American School”. There, the pressure to get good grades and the culture of pulling all-nighters to finish a paper or study for a test. I struggled a lot as I found myself frustrated with the idea of study merely to get good grades, most of the subjects I took were not what I was interested in but were just tools to propel me to a good school. Like most high schoolers, there was a lot of anxiety directed towards the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?”, For me, deep down, I always wanted to be an artist, I wanted to enter a field that I was passionate about.

Through a lot of convincing, my parents allowed me to apply to art school. One of which is Art Center College of Design. Through my friends, I learned that there were jobs for people who like to draw characters and paint. Art Center opened new avenues for me and taught me what I can do as an artist in different industries. Luckily, going to a high school with such an intense working culture, I fit right in my new college. In ways, Art Center was a lot less stressful than high school, because I was doing something that I was good at and had the drive to succeed. It’s cliche/cringe to say, but back in high school drawing and painting was a huge part of my life aside from studying.

Alas, there will always be problems in life. Through 18 – 21, I went through a lot of ups and downs from a failed relationship to not knowing who I was or what I wanted. (the early twenties SUCK) Due to how I was raised, I struggled with putting friends and playtime before work. In most of college, I divided all my time into either art schoolwork or my long-distance relationship. But, I felt unfulfilled in many other areas of my life. In my time in college, I learned Art, is an important part of my life, and I would be unhappy if I wasn’t always pushing myself to get better at it, however, there are many other things that are important as well including personal-growth. I think there is a lot of pressure in certain schools (especially Art Center) to dedicate most of your time to your craft, it feels guilty to spend your time on other things. At least for me, becoming a well-rounded person actually helped my artwork.

I am 22 and just graduated this summer, and I can honestly say for the first time in a while I am excited for new opportunities to arise. I am currently working to become a Concept Artist in the game and film industry.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
I am a Concept Artist, essentially, I paint and design the environments or characters needed to visualize a game or film. Most of my work is done on the computer using a drawing tablet on Photoshop. (The same process of painting on a canvas, except the tools are on your computer.) When I am doing personal illustrations, most of my inspiration draws from dark fantasy, however, I also like creating light-hearted, wholesome scenes. Story Telling is an important aspect of illustration and concept art, whenever I compose a piece, I try and think of a story I want to tell my viewers.

In your view, what is the biggest issue artists have to deal with?
At least for my industry, trying to balance doing work the industry needs vs what you want to paint or draw.

If you are working in the Entertainment industry, you need to understand that you are working on a collective project to produce a final product. Not all the work you do will be exciting for you. Some of it will, but not all.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
I upload work on my website, https://www.chelsealeeart.com/

Instagram: @ceruru

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
All Illustrations are done by Chelsea Lee

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