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Meet Cindy Phung

Today we’d like to introduce you to Cindy Phung.

Cindy, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
My love for animation began when I could first understand what was on the TV. I was automatically attracted to cartoons. Growing up, I had Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, Disney, and more that inspired me to keep drawing. I was mostly fascinated with older, black and white cartoons because it felt like finding a relic while flipping through channels. My mind was always centered around animated shows and it hasn’t stopped since. My sister and I would also always sit around the table drawing our favorite cartoons and random creations for hours. I remember thinking that she was a much better artist than I was and always pushed to draw as well as her. Eventually, she moved on to other interests and activities while I continued to draw all throughout high school to today.

In my Sophomore year of high school, there was even a time where I imagined Looney Toons characters cheering me on as I ran on what felt like 50 laps. It was around a 200-meter track on a cruise and the weather was extremely humid. Mind you, it was 6 in the morning! Every lap I completed, Tweety would fly next to me and remind me how many more laps I got left. Being on a large, rocking boat in 80-90 degrees in the dark, having the Looney Toons support me while I ran drenched in sweat really helped me with my early morning workouts. Although it was super random and silly to have cartoon characters cheer me on, it was the motivation I needed!

By the time I was applying for college, I wasn’t sure what major I should put myself in. While thinking about this, I was drawing in my 3rd or 4th sketchbook and realized that I have been an artist my whole life. I applied to art, was introduced to animation in an intro class, and after five years, I graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration/Animation. Now, I am working towards my goal of making more sequential art since I love to make stories.

Has it been a smooth road?
I wouldn’t say my road into animation was smooth but the support of my friends and family definitely helped push me towards where I am today. There are days where I struggle when I’m feeling like I am not doing enough, or my art isn’t as good as I want it to be. Sometimes I would place my pencil/stylus on an empty canvas and blank out thinking that I, all of a sudden, don’t know what or how to create. I also tended to yearn for comments and critiques on my work but would feel like no one was even paying attention. Being an introverted person didn’t really help my cause either. I have found that by networking in art/animation groups and being more social in my personal and online life, I was able to overcome most of these troubles because I always felt inspired again after sharing my ideas and doing my best to put myself out in the world more.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I am currently creating more art and stories to add to my portfolio. I am an illustrator, animator, and storyboard artist trying to get my foot into the door of opportunities where I can create stories whether it be in an animated series/film, children’s books, or comics! In my past works, I have interned at Feldspar Ventures as a Character Designer and made designs for a successful Kickstarter series called “Amota and Nebson” started by the successful Youtuber, SirSkyward. Being able to work with other creators made me really excited to see what other stories I can help with. I also completed an animated short film about a shadow finding his passion in dance and swing music. It was a blast being able to create and direct my own story and a great achievement to have completed my own short film.

I feel like what sets me apart from others is my openness to all kinds of animation of any genre. For example, I can still find enjoyment in pre-school shows like “Arthur” and “Blues Clues,” while also enjoying more mature works like “Infinity Train” and “Rick and Morty.” I absolutely will never forget my love for my childhood shows that sparked my passion for animation and I feel as though that love made me the kid at heart that I am today at 23 years-old!

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
Over the next 5-10 years, I think 3D animation will continue to experiment with a variety of styles, which is something we’ve already begun to see more frequently in the last few years compared to the beginning of last decade. Thanks to the rise in streaming services, traditional 2D animation may also become a medium that is utilized more than it has been in recent years. It would be great to see more of a mix between 2D and 3D animated films in the future! As for the target demographic, I can see the animation industry increasing their production of content geared towards adults/young adults with mature undertones. Working at an after-school program for middle school has shown me what they like to watch, and they are always eager to see more adult-themed shows and movies – even if they are too young for them…

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