To Top

Meet Monica Orange of Background Design and Illustration

Today we’d like to introduce you to Monica Orange.

Monica, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Growing up, I’ve always been a lover of art and animation. Often times you could find me in the corner watching my favorite Disney movie on repeat and sketching with a pad of paper and pencil in hand. This love for both art and animation has stayed with me my whole life. Surprisingly though, when it came time to choose a degree to study in college, I went in an Illustrative direction instead of an Animated one.

Overall, I did enjoy my college years, but due to all the varying opinions of my professors and mentors in college, I felt so pushed and pulled with what to do with my artwork, I never really found a focus for what type of art I wanted to create. It was due to this that I graduated with a very underwhelming senior art portfolio. Even after four years of art school, I was nowhere near ready to pursue an artistic career.

Post-college, with lack of focus and undecidedness in regards with what to do with my life, I did what every normal person does. I moved from my home town of Grand Rapids, MI to work for a certain mouse in Florida. I ended up working a couple of different jobs for just over a year at Disney World in Orlando. I won’t go into too many details of what I did, but I will say this, Working at Disney World help me realize what I really wanted to pursue was a career in TV animation as a designer. A background designer specifically.

I ended up moving back home to save on money and for two years, I worked odd jobs during the day to pay the bills and at night worked on a completely new animation centered portfolio. After a talk with a then stranger, but now mentor who worked in animation, I finally made the leap and headed for LA. The first eight months of my time here, I worked at Disneyland to pay the bills. It was fairly easy to transition into a position there due to my experience at Disney World. But then, on October 1st, 2018 I started my first day at a real-life animation studio, where I’m still at today.

Currently, I work in Production at DreamWorks TV animation, but at night I freelance for a couple of other animation studios as a vis dev artist. I’ve very happy with where I’m at right now, though I do hope that I can start working full time as a designer in the next year or so.

Has it been a smooth road?
I’ve had a pretty tough and winding road to get to where I am. When pursuing a career in animation, or any field for that matter, there is never a singular rout that will work for everybody. Despite my deep love from an early age for animation, I had to wander around for a long time before I had the focus, maturity and motivation to really get my butt in gear.

Also, and I don’t think people talk about this enough, but I simply had to work crappy, low paying jobs for a long time just to support myself. Those jobs are exhausting, and as much as I wish I could say that despite being exhausting, I would come home every night and spend hours every night pushing, and polishing my portfolio, that’s simply not true.

There were, and are a lot of nights where I would just come home and vege out. If you want to pursue an artistic career, especially in animation, you have to constantly be growing as an artist, but sometimes you just need to take the night off and binge watch an anime or two. It’s always been easy for me to fall in the trap of doing this too often though, but I think I’ve grown a lot and have found more of a balance between hard work and relaxation.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I am a background designer, Illustrator, and comic artist. I love drawing fun, whimsical designs, and I’m most proud of how much better I’ve gotten at my artistic growth and work/life balance.

I think something that really sets me apart from other people is my can-do attitude, willingness to learn and roll with the punches. I’m also a very cup-half-full type of person. I’m also quite outgoing.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
I definitely think LA is a great city to be in if you’re pursuing a career in animation as it’s really the central hub of animation in the US.

I can really only speak to people interested in an animation career, but If you truly feel that your artwork is at or above the level of people working the job you want to work, or at least very close, and you can financially support yourself, I would 100% say you should come out to LA. Recruiters take your work much more seriously.

However, If it’s too much of a financial burden, or if you think you’re not quite ready, It’s totally ok to spend a little more time at home saving up and really perfecting your portfolio. With that said, everyone’s path is different. I know for me, It was a big risk moving out to LA as I only had enough money saved up for a few months rent at best, and no job immediately lined up. I simply got very lucky and was very blessed that I was able to work at Disneyland for a few months to help keep me on my feet.

I would also urge anyone interest in coming out here to try and find roommates before moving out. Preferably someone you already know, but if you don’t know anyone, be very cautious while searching for a place to live. Take a trip out here first if you can. In fact, take multiple trips out here before moving.

LA is expensive, and while there are a lot of things about this city I love, there are also some major challenges with living out here that you don’t even have to think about when living in other places. Make sure this is a place you can be happy.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Monica Orange

Suggest a story: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

More in