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Meet Maria Vitan

Today we’d like to introduce you to Maria Vitan.

So, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I started drawing as a little kid when I was growing up in the Philippines. I remember my first successful drawing was a copy of this elephant chasing some flies on a tin pencil case. I held it up to my family when I finished and they all cheered for me. That was a good moment. After that, I started drawing anime characters.

We immigrated to Los Angeles as a family when I was 13. It was hard and a very powerful experience as a teen. I kept drawing throughout school, taking art classes here and there. I enrolled at Otis College of Art and Design in college and that was when I learned about concept art and painting. I fell in love with landscape painting or plein air painting. This was also around the time I focused on becoming a background painter for animation.

I interned on Adventure Time for a semester and was hired as a production assistant on Ben 10 shortly after. I finished my school and kept working as a PA until I met the director that would hire me as an artist on the Lego Mixels production at Cartoon Network. After that, I moved to Nickelodeon to paint on Pig Goat Banana Cricket. I came back to Cartoon Network to learn color designing on We Bare Bears. Now I’m the color supervisor on The Fungies!

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?
It has been a struggle as a production assistant who wanted to be an artist. It was painful to be so close to the job you want to be doing but are not allowed to do. I handed out work to artists and processed them to send to overseas. I get these beautiful artwork and all I wanted to do was work on them too! As tough as it was, it was a valuable experience since I learned the ins and outs of the production and I met many wonderful artists who are now friends.

Another tough thing that was a struggle was being able to separate your identity with work and your personal one. As an artist, you are somewhat cursed to have your personal being at stake when you’re working. I think it stemmed from not being the most confident person, your peers being so good while literally working side by side with the most talented artists out there, and the rise of social media. But perseverance and just working on your own projects helped a lot. I also learned to do other things that is not art that helped overcome the struggles.

Please tell us more about your art.
I am an artist working in the animation industry. I love color, nature and landscapes. I love taking people to different places in my illustrations. I love exploring nature through the use of color.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
I do my best to persevere. I believe the ability to create art is not something you are born with but is something you achieve through hard work and long hours of study and honing your skills.

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