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Meet Jieyi Lee of Open Road in Burbank

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jieyi Lee.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Jieyi. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
When I was a child living in Taiwan, I treated the paper as the sea in which I could dive into my imagination, with my pencil as my vessel of artistic exploration. I would draw for hours, in my own peaceful little world, surrounded by the noise and boisterous activity that came with having five other siblings. Art was where I could find true happiness. I turned passion into purpose when I realized that I wanted to work towards art as a career.

My passion for drawing grew over the years following. I was lucky to have had such a supportive family who encouraged me to follow my dreams, which was a rarity among the multitude of traditional, often strict, families in my hometown. I took the first step towards pursuing my goals when I made the decision to attend a fine art-focused high school.

After finishing high school, I was accepted into a university in Taiwan, majoring in fine arts. It may sound like good news, but it was during this time that I began to question whether fine arts was something I truly wanted to have as a career. In a setting in which I was supposed to feel purposeful and artistically motivated, I only found myself feeling more and more lost. Suddenly, I was no longer sure of my future. The pressure of wanting to succeed became too much. I struggled to pay for school. I began to lose sight of who I was as an artist, which led me to make the difficult decision to take a gap year.

It proved to be a worthwhile choice because soon after my motivation for art had resurfaced, I was given the opportunity to study abroad in the United States. I traded my pursuit of a fine arts major for a chance at a career in digital media. The three years that followed were no easy feat, but I can proudly say that I made it. I graduated from Otis College of Art & Design, and I have since made a great life for myself as a motion designer. I’m finally living the dream.

Having a supportive family is definitely a huge help. Has it been a smooth road getting to where you are today?
It was not a smooth road by any means.

I faced many struggles not only making the switch in my artistic path from fine art to digital art but also in trying to adjust to a different lifestyle and culture. I had landed in Los Angeles equipped with less than a year’s worth of knowledge of the English language, but it was all I could depend on when I needed to ask for help from my teachers and colleagues, or when I had to learn how to use industry-standard software.

The language barrier became one of my greatest obstacles. I can’t count how many times I cried on the way home from school, doubting myself, wondering whether I was going to be able to get far enough in school to graduate, let alone have a job in art. Despite this, I pushed myself as an artist to get through school, determined to make my dreams come true.

Once I graduated, I thought I would be able to take a breather and rest. Life had other plans for me, however, because I had to face the nightmare shared by all international students: I needed a work VISA in order to stay in the United States. I have to emphasize that trying to get a VISA is a very daunting, very scary process. It’s no joke. The loneliness and stress that came with this uncertainty was the absolute worst.

Thankfully, I had the love and support of my friends, who gave me the encouragement to fight for my right to stay here. I had made a home for myself as an artist in Los Angeles and I was not about to give that up. After many instances of uncertainties and doubts, I was able to land a job that granted me with a VISA. And then I could finally take a breath.

Immigration policies can definitely lead to a lot of stress, glad your situation is working out. We’d love to hear more about your work. What else should we know?
Right now, I am working as a Junior Designer at Open Road, an advertising agency. Though we specialize in creating trailer graphics, I’ve had the opportunity to contribute my skills in animation and design towards a variety of projects for well-known clients. The best feeling is when a friend and I go to a movie theater and I see my own work among the trailers; I lean over and whisper, “I made that!”

Working with Open Road has been such a fulfilling experience for me. I’ve learned so much about developing my skills and technique. Above all, I LOVE my work family. They’re really awesome.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
OH yes.

Los Angeles is a place full of opportunities. I feel blessed to be so close to all the studios and agencies. If I could offer my advice to those seeking opportunity, I want to stress the importance of putting yourself out there. Living here can be difficult too, when you have practical things to consider, like rent and transportation. So, be smart and do your research before you come. Anything can be figured out if you try hard enough. Come and enjoy this amazing weather!

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