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Life & Work with Mo Gatchalian

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mo Gatchalian.

Hi Mo, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
Ever since I was a kid, I was inspired by shows like Sailor Moon, Powerpuff Girls, and My Life As A Teenage Robot. Great stories of strong girls fighting monsters and otherworldly creatures always fascinated me when I was young, especially when they also dealt with problems regular people had. Ever since elementary school, I remember making comics, drawing fake movie posters, and drawing self insert characters for me and my friends. As I grew up and I focused more on a specific career, I wanted to get into animation. After taking an animation class in community college I realized what I was actually passionate about was storytelling, which led me to entertainment design and traditional illustration.

I’m inspired by my own experiences and the world around me so my work reflects that. The small digital comics that I make are based on real events I experienced because those are the stories I love telling people the most! My interests are everywhere and my art expresses that. As a child, I always wanted to do everything art-wise and that still holds true to this day. Ever since graduating from ArtCenter College of Art And Design with a BFA in Illustration, I’ve been able to do everything I’ve wanted to do. Currently, I’m working as a freelance illustrator from my cozy little bedroom studio at home.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
I had a lot of self-doubt when trying to pursue art as a career. It took most of my high school career to convince them that it was a viable career for me. For most of my life, it felt like I was trying to prove to other people that I could be an artist too. Many teachers, peers, and even friends would doubt me and try to stir me away from pursuing art. To this day, I still doubt myself or even worry I’m not “worthy” of being friends with all the great artists I know. What helps a lot is knowing that we’re all growing at our own pace and that it’s not a competition- that and having friends who support you no matter what.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I love doing anything and everything! When not working on character design or storyboarding, I still love making one-off illustrations for fun. I’m into anything from cutesy drawings of animals to tarot and the occult to cheesy B-grade horror films. My ability to take on any project is what I’m most proud of. During my time at ArtCenter, I took any class that interested me which lead to the large “toolbox” of skills I have now! Though I work more digitally these days, I still love experimenting with physical mediums when I have time; my favorite being block printing.

Do you have any memories from childhood that you can share with us?
My favorite childhood memory that I (and my parents) like recalling is when I would climb the chain-link fence to ditch school when I was in kindergarten. I was a shy kid growing up and didn’t make too many friends. My dad would hear a knock at the door of our apartment that was a block away only to find I had run away from school again. This was such a common occurrence that the school had to buy a tarp to put over the fences to prevent me from climbing over.

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