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Meet Carys Feehan

Today we’d like to introduce you to Carys Feehan.

Carys, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I’ve always been excited about the arts – growing up I danced, performed, sang and made videos, but mostly I drew for hours on end. Both my parents are Welsh but moved to Hong Kong before I was born, so I lived in Hong Kong for the first 18 years of my life. I went to school with people from all around the world and got to grow up in an exciting country with parents that encouraged curiosity and exploration. My two sisters are both wildly creative in ways I could only dream of ever achieving. I have so many memories of all the insanely cool art my older sister was constantly crafting as I grew up, as well as the countless nights where my younger sister and I would draw under the covers with headlamps and pretend to be asleep when my parents came to check on us.

I knew I wanted to go into the visual arts, but it took me stumbling upon animated student films online for me to realize that animation was what I wanted to pursue. I spent the rest of my time in school completely dedicating my time to improving my art. Animation is so multifaceted that even the skills I did have didn’t translate well, or didn’t match up to what I felt was standard to get into Calarts – which quickly became my first choice. I was so new to this approach to art making that I was sure I wasn’t going to get in. Being accepted was completely unexpected, I was so nervous! I moved to the states to attend and it’s been challenging but I love it out here. I am so grateful to have had this opportunity to pursue my passion like this, and most importantly to have met the people I have met. Some of the people I’ve come to know in my almost two years here are now my best friends and biggest inspirations.

Has it been a smooth road?
I had a good childhood full of experiences and a loving family, but in secondary school I experienced an emotional shift and became very anxious and insecure. I didn’t speak to a lot of people, consistently isolated myself and as a way to navigate my emotions I started drawing even more intensely. It felt like the only way I could communicate efficiently without feeling nervous. Even then, I beat myself up over the work I was creating – I never felt like I was good enough, I improved a lot but it wasn’t a productive state of mind. I still struggle with feelings of incapability and social anxiety to this day.

It’s an intensely pressured industry and, whilst I’ve never felt competitive towards my classmates, I struggled with comparing myself to them. Everyone is so talented and passionate, I think a lot of us struggle with imposter syndrome. Coming from a more fine art centric background, it can be really nerve wracking to work in ways I don’t feel familiar with – I’d never animated before this course, let alone storyboarded or done layout. It was a daunting process and my first year was full of self-doubt, but since gaining familiarity with the pipeline I’ve begun to feel more comfortable in my skin and what I have to offer.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I’m still working to find myself within my craft, but this past year has been a huge step for me. I’ve recently found a passion in visual development and the process of animating. There is something so exciting about designing a specific world and creating characters that interact uniquely within it. My current work aims to observe people’s inner dialogues and how the world warps around them.

I draw a lot of inspiration from my Welsh heritage – the richness and melancholy romanticism of its folklore and the landscape itself. Over the years, I’ve noticed my love for Wales as my spiritual home appearing in different forms throughout my work. It informs how I approach world building and a character’s place in scenery in terms of atmosphere and visuals. There is a certain affinity to the way I feel myself approaching landscape and characters that I feel like is a cornerstone of my work.

Recently, I am looking for ways to collaborate and expand my work back out to other forms of art. I want to try all kinds of mediums and channel that discovery back into my work. I find I am most inspired when I consume and create content that excites me and allowing myself to engage in these things makes my work stronger.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
I love LA for its universal passion for art – you can find everything here, it’s so richly embedded in the culture here. I feel impassioned every time I get to visit the city. The culture of art is motivating in ways I hadn’t been able to experience before moving out to California. I also love having access to such an exciting music scene – everyone plays in LA! I think I’ve been to more concerts and shows in my time here than I ever have in my life. We’re also so close to all these beautiful national parks, the accessibility to mountains specifically is so replenishing and really has a direct impact on my art making. What I like least about the city is probably it’s inaccessibility. Coming from Hong Kong where public transport is quick and reliable and everything is close together, LA gets very frustrating to navigate. This place is too damn big.

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Image Credit:
Pedro Vélez, Michelle Feehan

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