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Meet AnChi Shen

Today we’d like to introduce you to AnChi Shen.

Hi AnChi, 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?
I was born in Taipei, Taiwan and spent the majority of my life there. And because Taiwan is heavily influenced by Japan, I grew up watching A TON of anime. I loved how creative and diverse anime contents are; the facial expressions are top-notch and hilarious! But with that being said, I was never satisfied with how the stories progressed (Mostly because I don’t approve the love interests. Ha!), so I’d spent a lot of time designing new characters for the show and picture different versions of the story in my head – I enjoyed it very much! When I turned 8, my family moved to the U.S. for a few years and I started watching American cartoons. I remember being mind-blown by how different and diverse the art styles were and because there weren’t any Chinese subtitles, I had to piece together what’s happening based on the characters’ acting and expressions. Looking back on it, being exposed to both Japanese and American animation definitely planted seeds in my head and opened up my path to become a story artist.

In college, I majored in Animation at Taipei National University of the Arts, where I learned the foundation of animation and the experimental side of things. Fun fact: My first few shorts were actually stop-motion animation because I loved making puppets and seeing them come to life (On camera, obviously!) In my sophomore and senior years, I switched path to making 2D animation films. It was also around the same time that I started doing all the storyboards for my films and finding out how challenging yet rewarding the process of storyboarding is. After graduating and having experience making multiple shorts, it became very clear that my dream is to make movies! But it wasn’t possible had I stayed in Taiwan at the time, so I applied and got into CalArts in 2015. During my four years in Character Animation program, I developed more skills as a filmmaker and worked alongside many talented artists. As time went on, my passion for story grew stronger and it was clear that I wanted to become a story artist one day. I was extremely jazzed and honored when I found out I was chosen as a story intern at Walt Disney Animation Studio in the summer of 2018. A year later, I received an offer from Illumination to work in story and have stayed with the studio since.

I’m extremely grateful to be in the position I’m in and am always looking for ways to inspire myself as a creative so that I can bring fresh ideas to the table but also not forgetting to take care of myself. I enjoy making fun, meaningful and enjoyable content and will continue to do so. I’m currently searching for a new hobby, so you might see my art in different forms in the near future – Maybe ceramics? Riso prints? who knows 🙂

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Overall, My journey was smooth because my family was really supportive and I received a lot of help and guidance from teachers, peers and industry professionals.

The challenging part was making the transition from Taiwan to the U.S. because I couldn’t really apply what I learned back home to the industry here. I remember my first-year portfolio at CalArts was all over the place. I didn’t know what I wanted to do so it was a mix of everything and ended up very messy. I also spent a long time trying to develop my own creative voice and finding that good balance between Taiwanese and American humor so that my jokes can be universal yet still unique in my own way.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I work as a storyboard artist in the animation industry and make comics in my spare time. I love doing character designs and 2D animation as well and you can find my previous short films on my Vimeo! I have a huge comedy bone and I get my inspirations from life and all the wild dreams I have.

Do you have any memories from childhood that you can share with us?
Living in different countries with my parents and getting to experience unique cultures & lifestyles.

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