Today we’d like to introduce you to Diana Ling.
Diana, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I was born and raised in Los Angeles–every chapter of my life featured a different part of LA. I always loved drawing and design so in 2012, I graduated from the USC School of Cinematic Arts with a B.A. in Animation and Digital Arts. My career trajectory after college was definitely rough—the longest and most noteworthy job I had in the first half-year out of school was a 3-day stint as a 2D animation at Buck Design. After struggling for a while, I decided to enroll at Art Center College of Design to level up my drawing skills. I studied there for 3.5 terms and then left in the middle to try advertising storyboards.
In the beginning of 2016, I got my first job in animation as a storyboard revisionist on WB’s DC SuperHero Girls—unfortunately, I was not mentally well and suffering from terrible insomnia, so I had difficulty concentrating and after two months was laid off. I was quickly able to get another referral from an old USC professor for a job at Hasbro’s Transformers: RID. I stayed there for about a year as a revisionist, then moved onto WB’s Young Justice: Outsiders, also as a revisionist.
After being in the storyboard department for about two years, I realized that I really didn’t want to be a storyboard artist and wanted to do visual development for feature animation. So I left in the middle of Young Justice and solely worked on my vis dev portfolio for a few months. I was lucky enough to be approached by Wild Canary for (finally!) my first design position on Disney Junior’s The Rocketeer. I ended up staying there for a whole year until the season ended, and then…my friend and fellow artist Jason Scheier approached me about being a visual development artist at Alcon Entertainment for an upcoming movie called Darkmouth—my dream job, and where I’ve been for the past six months!
Has it been a smooth road?
As I mentioned above, my journey was definitely not smooth. Between 2012 when I graduated USC to the end of 2015, the longest job I had lasted only three days. I became incredibly disillusioned after USC, which culminated into a year-long battle with depression in 2015. I realized that no one was holding me back except my own doubts and fears. I was afraid of the competition, was greatly affected by social media, and worried a lot about the uncertainty of success in pursuing an art career. I worked really hard to change my mindset and was constantly taking classes outside of work to improve my skills. I learned to hustle, write good emails, talk to recruiters, etc.–really forced myself to get out of my comfort zone. I wanted to succeed badly and felt that I could do it if I could just get out of my own way and have a little patience.
Now, I’m no longer afraid of the uncertainty of being an artist. When I look back on my journey, I am actually surprised at how quickly I was able to achieve my goals. I’ve only been in the industry for four years now.
Please tell us more about your art.
As a visual development artist, I specialize in creating illustrations and assets that determine the overall look of a TV show or movie. I am multifaceted and can do both characters and environments. I think I pride myself the most on my speed–I can get most things done fairly quickly and well. I am also a good listener–I take notes well and don’t get offended easily by criticism. I can keep my ego separate from my work.
In terms of my actual work, I still feel that I am trying to find my voice.
Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
As I mentioned earlier, I am a LA native and every part of the city represents a different chapter of my life. A lot of locations here feel nostalgic to me. I enjoy the weather the most but hate the traffic.
Check out the VoyageLA Podcast:
Episode 1 with Content Partner Lisa Taitelman, Founder of Hiking & Wellness company Find Your Trail.