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Meet Evangeline Chang

Today we’d like to introduce you to Evangeline Chang.

Evangeline, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Strangely, it started with ballet. For 11 whole years, ballet was my life. Becoming a dancer felt inevitable to me. I did pick up drawing as a side hobby, only doodling between (and honestly, sometimes during) dance classes. It wasn’t until my freshman year of high school that I decided to stop pursuing a dance career. After over a decade of training to become a professional ballerina, it was like I suddenly woke up to realize that it just wasn’t for me.

After dropping the goal I had been chasing my whole life so far, I felt stuck. I kept asking myself, “well, what do I do now for the rest of my life?” I didn’t have the perfect answer — I still don’t! I ended up keeping myself busy with school activities, but found myself drawing more and more. I started taking art classes once a week, which opened my eyes to the possibility that I could draw and tell stories for a living.

The first time I heard of CalArts was at the California State Summer School for the Arts (CSSSA). I attended CSSSA for visuals arts, for at the time I thought I had to end up in fine arts or illustration. While at CSSSA, I realized I was interested in the work the animation students were curating more than anything, and that led to some serious research about the animation industry. When the time for college rolled around, my heart was set on CalArts’ Character Animation program, where I thought I could express myself and grow as an artist and storyteller.

Fast forward, and I got accepted! It didn’t feel real at first, but after attending CalArts for the past year, I can only feel grateful to have come across so many kind, unique, and hardworking peers and mentors. From here on out, I’ve got nothing to do but give 100 percent of myself into everything I make!

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I don’t think anyone has had a genuinely smooth road to get to where they are today. I’m thankful for my friends, parents, and sister for their support, but it hasn’t been the easiest. In order to start chasing my new dreams, I had many lengthy conversations with my parents. I think it was hard for them to understand the path I was choosing at first, but we kept learning and researching together, and now they seem pretty excited about my journey into animation.

I struggled the most with my art when I was still in high school because there was a long period of time where I couldn’t make anything I was genuinely happy with. Maybe it comes with growing up a bit, but now I really love that drawing has become my biggest passion, and I appreciate that I can create, even if I’m not thrilled with every single piece or story. And for anyone reading this that needs to hear it, you can create and you will keep improving the more you practice. Good luck and enjoy the process!

Please tell us more about your art.
When it comes to my own artwork, I think it’s hard to find what “sets me apart”. I’m still trying to find what might be special and different with my work. Honestly, I want to explore my work more and find my voice. There are probably tons of little things that influence my work in special ways I don’t even realize, simply as a result of my personal past and present. The people that I’ve met — even just once — may factor into my stories more than they’ll ever come to know.

Maybe in the future, I’ll be able to answer this question better. The experiences that lie ahead will certainly change my art in all kinds of ways, too!

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
Everything that I’ve done so far has led up to this moment in my life. Looking back, I think I could’ve loosened up whenever I put unnecessary pressure on myself, and focused more when I was too negligent from time to time. That’s a balance I still have to practice. Also, I could have been more patient with myself. There was a time when my improvement felt too slow, and as a result I became frustrated with my art. Now, I’ve stopped thinking about my future in animation as a race against the clock to get better. Instead, I’m indulging in the very subjects I love the most while pushing myself one drawing at a time. Improvement can only come with the combination of time and effort, so I tell myself to just keep creating, as best as I can.

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