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Life and Work with Christina Chi

Today we’d like to introduce you to Christina Chi.

Christina, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I grew up on Neopets.com which taught me everything from HTML to the stock market, grinding away hours of my day to make enough fake money for some fake pixels. They also had a fake newspaper with a comics section – real art from real people! Today, I have only a rudimentary knowledge of HTML and stocks (but like, I GET what they are), but I retained my love for comics and befriending other creatives.

I studied Animation/Illustration at San Jose State University, where I immersed myself in a supportive community of artists very similar to the artists I admired online. I met my professor and mentor David Chai, who would make an animated film every year. He taught me everything I know about the animation industry, from the entire production pipeline to just being a good person to work with. I graduated in 2017 and am now a Production Coordinator on the show Bob’s Burgers.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
The animation industry has progressed a lot, but it is still a very male-dominated industry. I sit in 2o-people meetings and am the only non-white guy in the whole room. Things like that make me feel smaller than I already am, but being small is better than being nothing.

For me personally, I am inspired by familiarity. So I think it’s important for minorities to exist even if they feel like they don’t matter because continuing to create allows us to reach out to other people in similar situations. Animation is an especially good outlet for that, so I’m glad that I have that opportunity to exist here right now (if that makes any stupid sense).

We’d love to hear more about your art.
Honestly – I don’t have a lot going on!! I wish I could say I have more to be proud of, but all I have are dreams. I guess that’s why I moved to LA.

Just kidding!!! Sorta. My most passionate project right now is my LemonBoy comics, which you can find on Instagram under @leeembi. I posted a drawing of a lemon with a goofy face one day and then my coworker Jay peered over my cubicle wall and asked if I would draw some comics starring that lemon character if he wrote them. I said sure, and it’s been a very nostalgic ride since. Not in the sense that LemonBoy is some imaginary character from childhood that I can remember but can’t find anywhere in the archives of the internet, but in the sense that I really love comics and collaboratively creating stuff with people! If LemonBoy does remind you of some silly early 90s creation though, then that’s good, because that’s the vibe I’m going for.

Who have you been inspired by?
A lot of creators like Lisa Hanawalt, Megan Nicole Dong, Nomi Chi, Jillian Tamaki are huge artistic inspirations in my life. They have such unique styles and voices and I want to grow up to be just like them. And this is an extremely boring answer. I’m also inspired by my mom. She escaped from war-torn Vietnam, hiding in a sad tiny boat and sailed across the oceans just so I could grow up sitting on my butt in front of a computer. And she also signed this waiver so I could play on Neopets when I was nine years old. I think about her a lot whenever I feel lazy.

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