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Conversations with Clara Chou

Today we’d like to introduce you to Clara Chou.

Hi Clara, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
Getting to where I am right now is totally an accident! I’ve never thought about becoming an animator. I was more into film and photography back in high school in Taiwan. I watched almost every movie that I could access except for horror movies. That’s when I started to dive into the world of filmmaking, even though I didn’t realize it until starting pursuing a BA in Film and Animation in the UK later on. I didn’t start animating until the last year of my undergraduate. I got so amazed by how animation can bring the audience into an unreal world and how magical the animated world could be. After graduating, with a lack of experience in animation, I went back to Taiwan and started taking classes to prepare for a portfolio while working as an intern in an advertising company.

Later on, I worked as an assistant animator in a postproduction company in Taipei for a while. During the two years in Taiwan, I found my interest in Character Animation, which is bringing the characters to life through acting. It was interesting because I almost forgot how fascinated I was with acting when I was very young. However, my parents didn’t support me at that time, and that dream of acting died inside. Therefore, I was so excited to find out that I can act through characters in animation, and it’s like a dream come true! I was so lucky to get into the MFA animation program at University of Southern California where I meet a bunch of good friends and mentors from the school and the industry and really express myself as an artist through animation.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
It’s not a smooth road for sure. Coming from an Asian country with a conservative cultural background, there are always conflicts when it comes to choosing a career path. My mother wanted me to study Business which is the opposite of what I wanted. I had to convince her and finally she accepted which took a long time. After a sudden shift from film to animation, I graduated from university with not much experience in animation since I’ve just started by then. It was difficult to find an animator job with the portfolio I had. Also, I wasn’t sure if I would be good at animation, and I didn’t have time to waste anymore. Even in USC, especially in the first semester, I was struggling a lot. Fortunately, my parents, my friends, and my professors were supportive when I was struggling with my projects. I was really fortunate to have so many talented people helping me along the way.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I am a 3D artist specializing in 3D character animation. Through my last collaborated project, I learned a lot from my colleagues. I have become very interested in character modeling, character lighting, and VFX. I enjoy bringing cartoony performances to the characters the most. Telling hilarious stories is what I’m really good at. I always enjoy the audience’s laughter. One of the short films that I’m so proud of is a short that I made last year at the beginning of the worldwide pandemic. It has been such a bad time for all of us, therefore, I wanted to express joy through my film. I was having a cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows on it and thinking, what if the marshmallows come to life and tell me not to worry too much and just enjoy and be happy? That inspiration made my film “Relax and Mallow out.” It got selected for several animation festivals. Through that film, I realized how much I like to create little and happy comedies. I believe that express my personality so well and would definitely be the direction that I’m going for. I want to create cute and funny artworks and bring happiness to the world.

What matters most to you?
I believe that my passion for animation matters the most to me. It is my passion that brings me to where I am, and it gives me the courage to take risks and go on a journey that I’ve never thought about before. It helps me get through all the struggles and obstacles that I have faced. I believe one of the reasons why I’m so lucky to have all the people helping me along the way is that they see my passion for animation and that I’m willing and eager to learn. The passion brings me to a place where I belong, and I have the chance to meet all the friends and teachers that teach me a lot. I’m really grateful for being where I am and becoming who I am.

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Image Credits:

Pictures by Clara (Yun-Cheng) Chou

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