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Meet Patradol “Dodo” Kitcharoen

Today we’d like to introduce you to Patradol “Dodo” Kitcharoen.

Patradol, before we jump into specific questions about your art, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I grew up in Bangkok, Thailand in the 90s as a kid who loved doodling and watching cartoons. The quirky art style and humor of that time period really shaped my taste and personality. Doodling became my favorite childhood pastime and the big chunk of encouragement came from my dad, who always laughed at every single silly joke I drew. In middle school, I made comic strips about my classmates doing silly stuff, passed them around in class for some laughs and found out they love it. Our teacher was initially not too keen on how I spent my class time. However, she got around to reading it herself and became a fan! The reactions got me interested in storytelling in addition to drawing.

In college, I majored in animation production at Mahidol University in Thailand. I was quickly drawn to storyboarding, as it allows me to both draw and tells my stories. Through my school projects, I got to try my hands on different kinds of stories and mediums beyond my usual comfort zone. I had the opportunities to make a war veteran 3D drama short, animated documentary about children’s imaginary friends, and a goofy prince charming 2D comedy short. All these projects allowed me to crystallize my personal style while adapting it to different kinds of narratives at the same time. The creative process and outcome were extremely rewarding and I knew that I want to continue growing my skills in this field.

After college, I joined the storyboard team of the Monk Studio, one of Thailand’s leading animation studios. Here, I got to see the business side of animation and learned the ropes on how all the department collaborates in a commercial project. After almost two years there, I decided to move to Los Angeles and went to USC to learn and broaden my horizons even more. I had opportunities to meet and work with such talented classmates and amazing professors. Both my work and Master’s degree experience showed me where I can grow on both the commercial and creative sides of the animation world.

It had been a very pleasant and exciting journey so far. Being an artist leads me to places and introducing me to so many talented people and amazing stories. I know that there’s still a long way to go on this path and I am looking forward to it!

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It was not an entirely smooth journey. I am very fortunate that I have such lovely friends and family I could turn to for personal supports. However, there are a lot of times where I have to make my own personal call on how I want to move forward. There’s no right answer and a lot of unknowns.

As we know, the animation industry in LA is extremely competitive and you need both personal competency and someone to vouch for your work to get yourself seen. On one hand, I have to keep my works fresh and improve my skills. On the other hand, I also have to put myself out there, network and keep my eyes out for interesting projects. Marketing oneself is also something that many artists, including me, find really hard to do in the beginning. Dividing time and effort between the two is a constant balancing act for me.

A lot of the stress came from not really knowing how to match your skills to the ever-changing needs of the creative market. There’s not a lot you can control beyond self-improvement and the whole ambiguity can easily tire you down. To fight that sense of discouragement, I have to constantly tap back into the joy that originally got me started with art. It’s a lot of self-reflection on what part of my creative process makes me happy, finding inspirations from works that I like and, my personal favorite, doodling silly things unrelated to work. You have to be able to remind yourself of your ‘why.’

On the upside, these constant struggles and hustling had really pushed myself to improve my work very quickly in a short period of time and to see the contributions I can give to my collaborators in various projects. It not a smooth road but an amazing learning experience.

We’d love to hear more about your art.
I love making playful, quirky and lighthearted illustrations or short animated sequences. I have a particular soft spot for details or sequences that can draw a good laugh from the audience. In terms of skillsets, I specialize in storyboarding and 2D animation, especially for action and comedy shorts or TV animated content.

As for my proudest work, it would be my USC graduation film, “Go! Go!” It is a 4-minute music-driven comedy animated short about an alligator’s first time in a theme park. Go! Go! is currently going on the festival circuit. It was my first time working as a director with a full team with skill sets completely outside my area of expertise (music and song writings in this case) and I am really proud of what we did.

I think people are drawn to my work, especially Go! Go!, because of the unforced feelings of fun, whether it is through little comedic moments or a character’s playful design. I want to give my viewer’s the same positive energy I put into the creative process. For example, I decided to animate most of Go!Go!’s background characters to create a sense of liveliness and include quirky details that reward those who notice them, like a character making funny faces or putting my friends in there. To me, it makes the dynamic sense of joy more tangible. To the viewer, I think it made the story felt more alive and engaging. I cannot express enough how happy I was when I saw that my film was able to give the audience a good time and receiving such great feedback from festivals.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
The biggest credit would go to my family for always being so understanding and supportive. They let me pursue what I love even though they are not familiar with the animation business. That unconditional trust and support really keep me centered when I felt uncertain about myself.

I also have friends who are always there to cheer me on and see my works, my colleagues who show me different aspects of the creative process and my professors who lead me into so many exciting opportunities. They help me stay excited with my creative journey.

Finally, there are the people who kindly provide feedback for my works. Whether it is the middle school teacher who likes my class time doodling, the artists who reviewed my portfolios or the juries who gave me comments during the festivals. These inputs have shaped me to become the artist I am today.

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Image Credit:

Patradol Kitcharoen

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