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Meet Katherine Soldevilla

Today we’d like to introduce you to Katherine Soldevilla.

Katherine, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I started drawing from a very young age… young enough to get put on a timeout. It would happen so often that I no longer saw it as a punishment. With a crayon in hand and a blank space on the wall, the possibilities were endless. I inherited a lot of my creative abilities from my dad’s side. He could draw, sing, dance, and even do a bit of carpentry. He had all of the ability but none of the encouragement.

Art was not seen as a lucrative career in the Philippines back then. But in his downtime, he would copy comics from the Sunday paper, and I thought it was simply magic. My very first art class was at Mission: Renaissance where I began using pastels and learning about color. As I grew older, I started watching a lot of cartoons and anime which began to influence my art.

My mom continued to foster my love for animation by sending me to Animation Academy in Burbank. I learned about designing characters, doing turnarounds, and creating backgrounds for animation. There was more to this animation thing than I thought and it blew my mind. During high school, I focused more on experiencing life and making friends.

When I was in junior year, I took classes at Saturday High which is an art program for high school students at Art Center College of Design. I took a costumed figure drawing class taught by Jean-Paul Orpinas. I learned so much about being more confident with my line, viewing form through simple shapes and silhouettes, and capturing the life of the pose through gesture. This class cemented my desire to go into art because of all the things I can do, it is the one thing I have been consistently passionate about.

I began attending Art Center College of Design right after high school. I quickly learned that turning a passion into a career is a lot more difficult than it seems. I felt like I was barely keeping up with my peers. I was on the brink of quitting a couple of times, but I’m so glad I didn’t. I had to remind myself there was someone on that review board that saw potential in my portfolio and that I belonged there. I changed my focus to Illustration: Entertainment Arts and everything just seemed to click. I picked up digital painting, learned how to visually develop a story, and even took a class in motion graphics which made my drawings come to life. I also picked up hobbies outside of school like sewing and baking to explore different areas of creativity and simply just for fun.

Since then, I’ve worked on a variety of projects. I worked in games for a little bit as a 2D UI/UX artist at Hyperkinetic Studios. I worked with the art director to come up with the look and feel of the studio’s first IP, Epic Tavern. After that, I began freelancing and have had the opportunity to create a music video for Jon Fledge, I was a colorist on a commercial for Quest Nutrition, and I am currently creating character and prop designs for pitches. In my spare time, I continue to dabble in After Effects and make up my own projects.

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?
Oh, there have been plenty of obstacles.

The road to my first job was not a direct one. I definitely took a detour by working a couple of service jobs here and there. I fell into a depression after graduation and wasn’t able to find any work. With the service jobs, I learned how to work with different personalities, practiced humility, and gained a deeper understanding of people in general. Having worked as waitress made me value getting work as an artist even more.

It wasn’t an easy decision to leave the team at Hyperkinetic Studios when I did. But I still wanted to pursue a career in animation as a visual development artist.

The field of animation is very small, competitive, and difficult to break into when you don’t know anyone. Starting with zero connections has been really tough, but I pushed myself to start going to these networking mixers organized by WIA (Women in Animation). These have made all the difference in my attitude towards socializing and even interviews. I met people who were going through the same difficulties as me, and I didn’t feel so alone in my journey.

We’d love to hear more about what you do.
I am currently working as a freelance Illustrator and Visual Development Artist. I specialize in designing characters, props, environmental designs, color, and a bit of animation. Clients often use this art in pitch bibles to present their ideas to studios or companies.

The thing that I am most proud of is creating an animated music video on my own. I made the music video for 747 by Jon Fledge. He came up with the narrative of the story, and I created the character designs, storyboards, animatic, color script, promo art, and animated the video. I did all this over a short period of time, but it was one of the most fun projects I’ve ever done (and I would absolutely do it again.)

I think my ability to work in different styles, sense of color, and fun ideas sets me apart from the others.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
I think one of my most favorite memories was building a mission for my class assignment. I was in fourth grade, and my parents helped me on this one.

We got one of the mission kits from an art store and built it together. I think my mom was more into it than I was because she went all out and made stained glass windows out of cellophane and confetti.

When I turned mine in, I noticed no one else had thought of decorating the windows the way my mom did, and for that, it made me feel like mine was special.

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