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Meet Jingqi Zhang

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jingqi Zhang.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Jingqi. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
With no need for any professional equipment or experience, drawing is one of the most economic and popular hobbies for kids in China. I began to draw from a very young age without expected I could keep it so long and go so far. As the same as my peers, I grew up with manga and anime. When I was a teenager, I loved the characters and engaged in the exciting adventures so much, that I was sad that Inuyasha was in 2D, but I was in 3D, so I could never meet him in person. At that point, I always believed going to an art school would be my destiny. However, it seemed destiny decided to trick me a bit for some hard reasons, I ended up in Preschool Education. However, when I was about to give up and compromise, I got a chance to be an exchange student in Denmark learning animation. During my time in Europe, I not only learned the infinite potential of animation, but opened my mind by experiencing different culture and life. I can’t describe either how thrilled I was firstly seeing my girl character walking wiggly on paper, or how touched I was to be only 2 inches away from the masterpieces in museums. I wanted to share stories, my feelings and thoughts. I wanted to shout out my happiness, excitement, as well as sadness and confusions. At this moment, I realized animation was the best media to communicate, beyond the languages, ages, ethnicities, reality… After the exchange program, I began to apply for animation schools deciding to pursue another bachelor degree. It wasn’t easy to manage the application process but the longing of making animations and my friends’ supporting helped me going through all the obstacles. Now, I am a Character Animation student in Cal Arts. I always feel lucky and blessed that I am able to do what I love, and being surrounded by these talented creative souls.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
When I was applying animation schools, my biggest enemy were loneliness and self doubting. During my four-year majoring in Preschool Education, I couldn’t find anyone who had passion in animation and would love to share opinions with me. I thought I was regarded as an alien and day dreamer who wanted to purchase animation dream aboard. I guess it was me didn’t believe myself. In this case, when I got my offer online, I didn’t trust my eyes but kept reloading the website hundred times to make sure.

For now, I am training myself to be a storyboard artist. I feel the deeper I dig into it, the more I need to learn. Sometimes I couldn’t figure out what’s the best arrangement of the shots. Other times, I keep doubting my stories are interesting. I have had a hard time shifting between audience view and board artist’s view. But overall, it is a joyful pain. Audiences will tell me if I made the right choice in the end.

Please tell us about your work.
I am now a Character Animation student in Cal Arts, aiming to be a storyboard artist. And I hope to create my own show which is about plants in the future. For now, it is just a very rough outliner and needs lots of effort to build. The goal is ambitious, but nothing hurts to dream big. Also, I am looking for opportunities in industrial projects that could train myself as a storyboard artist. During my first year, I have finished my animation film, which is based on ancient China. The story is about a man gets a sword accidentally, and he begins to rob passengers. The film actually presents my thinking about the conflicting of power and desire. In the past one year, is nominated in 14 animation festivals around the world.

I am also a freelance illustrator for children’s picture book. I have drawn ten cute stories for a Chinese company which is to teach kids English. I am glad to try another efficient way to tell stories, as animation always need more time to made.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
I don’t define myself “success”. It is just a life choice, and everyone has their own path to go. But personally, the inner motivation drives me here is to recognize my real passion. Like any normal human-being, I have thought about give up million times whenever the difficulty came. But when I imagine myself doing a job I don’t care for decades, which is like a loveless marriage, the fear makes me keep going. Other thing is to be patient, which I am still bad at. Build an engaging rich story needs lot of brain work. The more details you find out, the more believable it will be. People enjoy unique stories. I realized if I get lazy, I will just use the typical elements to fill in, and the story will be cliché.

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Jingqi Zhang

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