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Meet Chia-Hsin Lee of “It’s Not Just Art” in North Hollywood

Today we’d like to introduce you to Chia-Hsin Lee.

Chia-Hsin, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I wanted to be a host on Animal Planet or Discovery Channel since I was 12. I wasn’t sure what drew me to that vision. I supposed it was for my interest in Natural History. Throughout high school, I focused my studies on biology and successfully got accepted into one of the best universities in the field of Ecology in Taiwan.

In freshman year, I knocked on every single lab door and asked if I could assist in their field studies. As a result, I spent most weekends in the wild catching crabs in swamps, recording frogs in bamboo forests, feeding field mice, and organizing our greenhouse. My parents also supported me to be trained to be a presenter for the Society of Wilderness. Moreover, by the second semester, the curator from the biggest science museum in Taiwan was so kind to let me into his lab to help with his new exhibition covering dinosaurs and mammals. Everything was not only according to plan but going faster than I expected. My dream didn’t seem far at all!

However, I didn’t feel right. I was anxious and unhappy. I felt a curious urge to create. And with a very impulsive decision, I transferred to Landscape Architecture by second year.

Creativity was a new paradise for me. I thrived in Landscape Architecture, then two years later I wanted to go to Hollywood so I applied to CalArts Character Animation Program and got accepted. By then, I have completely forgotten my childhood dream of becoming a wildlife host. All I wanted to do was to be an artist at Disney. I planned to do what I usually do, to go all out, pull all-nighters, work hard, make connections, aim big, and make it big.

But I never did any of that. Instead, I spent most of my time in other areas of art, and was fascinated by how wide the possibilities of art can be! CalArts is an art school, with all different majors in one same building. I took music classes, theatre classes, film and video classes, dance classes… I made friends with people from across all majors who are so knowledgeable in their respective art forms. This was not paradise, this was a curiosity heaven! I have gained so much knowledge that I never thought existed! However, by the time I graduated, my classmates were all getting hired at big animation studios, while I had completely nothing.

I was confused. What went wrong? For the past eight years, since I finished high school I have put in so much effort, but nothing seemed right. I am a Jack of trade, and I scratched my head searching for that perfect job for people like me. That’s when the idea slipped back into my mind, my childhood dream, to be a host on an educational show. I had so much to share and so much passion for learning everything! I am a well-trained presenter, and I not only edit videos but I animate. I have everything ready as if my past eight years were planned ready for this moment. Everything comes full circle. I bought recording equipment, wrote scripts, and collaborated with my brother who is a PHD in Art History. I planned episodes of visual arts, sonic arts, religious arts, and design and architecture. There is so much I’m excited to research, document, and share!

Today, I am hosting my own show on YouTube on art and all its possibilities, called “It’s Not Just Art”.

Has it been a smooth road?
This most recent struggle was when I was a student in the Character Animation Program at CalArts, I was trying so hard to fit in, but couldn’t. That is when I learned that there is a huge world of different art forms out there, from linear to non-linear, from narrative to non-narrative, from abstract to non-abstract, and that narrative storytelling is just a small part of the grand world of art.

I learned that the artworks each award festivals celebrate don’t necessarily mean they are the best. There is no “best artwork” in the world. It more closely means they “best fit” the tastes of the curators of the festival. Anybody can have their own taste and celebrate the artworks they love. That’s one beautiful reason I love about art. There are no set rules.

It took me a while to learn that as long as you create something that you like, somebody out there will like it too.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with It’s Not Just Art – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
My YouTube Channel “It’s Not Just Art” not only gives you a deep introduction to different art movements but also takes you through a process of creating an artwork of that art movement from beginning to end. I think that’s what sets us apart because most other shows are oftentimes either all historical information or all art technique. Our show is a merry blend of the two.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
The best I love about LA is that it’s a city where it feels like half the people are film graduates. It’s a place where when you talk about film or video art, everyone is on the same page.

The least favorite thing about LA is that it lacks the deeper cultural histories like the East Coast. I love soaking myself in cultural sceneries and activities. I’m not saying LA has no historical spots. No. It has plenty of interesting sites that I love. However, LA still isn’t quite old enough to give that immense overwhelming feeling that I search for yet. But with new artists emerging everyday, things can definitely become very lively in the near future.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Rafael Hernandez, Juan Mendizábal, Kial Hocker

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