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Meet Andy Cung

Today we’d like to introduce you to Andy Cung.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Andy. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I am currently a Story Artist at Netflix Animation but prior to making my career change into the entertainment industry I was an Electrical Engineer for seven years in Orange County. Growing up, I had your typical Asian parents that steered you towards a career path in health care or engineering. It was not until way later in my life that I realized you could make a career for yourself in animation.

After working as an engineer for several years I wanted a way out of that career path because I was not enjoy it and not personally fulfilled by it. During that time, the internet was growing and cultivated an online art community of people who worked in animation and lived action. Thats when I learned that people got paid to do art for animation and film. I did some research about art schools and learned that art tuition was very expensive and I did not want to pay that expensive tuition or get in more student debt for another degree. I also learned that a lot of artists got jobs because of their portfolio work not because of their degree.

Since all you needed was a portfolio to get your break into animation, I decided to look for trade schools that would teach me the skill sets for an animation portfolio geared towards storyboarding. The schools I ended up learning from were Concept Design Academy, Kazone Art Academy, Brainstorm, CGMA, and Schoolism. I would then moonlight as an art student at night and on the weekends while maintaining my engineering job during the day. I was helping out with my family at the time so I could not have dropped my engineering job and be a full-time student. I juggled all of that for three years and then I got my lucky break and began working in animation on February 9th, 2015. The feeling of putting in my two weeks notice and driving off from the engineering campus was one of the greatest feelings I’ve ever had. I have not looked back since.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It was definitely not an easy path. The biggest challenge was maintaining the mental and physical endurance of juggling a full-time engineering job, being there to support my family, trying to keep up with my studies for art school, and trying my best to not sacrifice my health so that I could have the energy to juggle all of it for those three years. There were days where I was burned out, doubted myself, and wanted to give up. I would then allow myself a small break to recover my head space and then pick it up again the next day. At that point, I had invested so much time and my own personal money I could not give up and did not want to turn back because I wanted out of engineering.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
My focus is on writing and storyboarding for animation and live action films. I sometimes will write my own stories and convey them visually through comics or storyboards. Most of the time I work with directors or show runners to help them visually communicate their written scripts and stories through storyboards. The storyboards will then act as a template for animation or as a template for shooting movies. Ironically my biggest tool set has been my analytical skills and critical thinking which I had acquired from engineering. In writing and storyboard you’re spending a lot of time problem solving with given parameters much like an engineering problem.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
I think grit is important because you’ll need that tenacity and optimism to stick it through any journey you take because it will be filled with obstacles and challenges. Learn to love to learn is important because you need to keep growing as an artist and it keeps you humble because you don’t know everything. Being self-aware is important because you need to be honest with yourself about what you can do and cannot do. Lastly, the ability to build genuine relationships with people because I don’t think you can succeed by yourself. I think you can get a lot further in life with the support of your family and friends who believe in you and want to see you succeed.

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