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Meet Richard Chen

Today we’d like to introduce you to Richard Chen.

Richard, before we jump into specific questions about your art, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I always was interested in the arts as a child. For as long as I can remember, I was either painting, drawing or making something. My parents noticed my interest pretty early and helped foster it by putting me and my sisters in art classes and just encouraged us in general.

The passion continued throughout grade school and high school, Visual art classes were always my favorite and really made me think about seriously pursuing Arts as a career. When time came to decide what path to follow for college, It was a hard to pinpoint what I wanted to do. I thought about potentially going into architecture, or industrial design and even graphic design (like my sister) but it wasn’t until a friend of mine who told me about the Sheridan Animation program that it really solidified what I wanted to do. I loved animation growing up, whether it’s Saturday morning cartoons or animated features, It was all I watched and drew- I wanted to be a part of that.

I was fortunate enough to get accepted into the program after high school and had an incredible time learning the craft of animation. Most importantly, it put me in a space filled with like-minded people who all shared the same passion and fed off each other creatively. We learned from each, shared ideas and techniques and just pushed each other in general to improve. Some of my favourite memories were from just sitting around with my friends and exchanging story ideas and how we were going to make our own movies in the future.

After college, I was fortunate enough to land a design job right away with a studio here in Toronto. I started as a junior designer, designing small things and learning the job as I went. Fortunately, I was surrounded by a great group of artists who took me under their wings and was always willing to share their knowledge and critiques. Over time, I was entrusted with more complicated assignments and responsibilities and worked my way up to a design lead position. Gradually, over time, I started Art directing and production designing on a multitude of different projects, from animated TV shows, short films, live-action shows and feature films.

Currently, I’m the supervising Art Director and Creative Director at a Toronto Animation studio. I work with a super talented group of artists, making cool content together. It’s been a wild ride and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It’s a job that I love, and I hope to be fortunate enough to keep having fun in the years to come.

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’s been relatively smooth, but there are always bumps along the way. Animation sounds fun, and it is, but there’s a lot of hard work and late nights put into producing what you see on film and TV. Sacrifices like time away from family, friends and loved ones are things that can be difficult, just due to the nature of the job. Also, different projects come with different challenges and difficulties that come with it, but that’s also the fun part, it keeps things fresh all the time.

We’d love to hear more about your art.
I specialize in Art Direction and Production Design. I work with clients and directors to try to bring their vision to life with the help of a talented team of artists. I work on a multitude of different projects, sometimes they’re smaller boutique type of assignments and sometimes it’s major feature film projects. Regardless of the project type, each client gets the same dedication and personal touch no matter what. In some ways, I try not to treat the projects with the traditional client and vendor type of mentality, but more so that we’re all on the same team trying to achieve the same goal together. It makes me feel more invested in the project, which in turn creates a better working relationship and product.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
I would have to say the latest feature film that I Art Directed for Netflix called “Next Gen” It’s directed by two friends of mine who I greatly admire, and I got to work with an ultra-talented group of artists who’s craftsmanship and dedication is second to none. It was an absolute joy to work on- dream project type of deal. I can only hope to be lucky enough to work on another project with the same type of magic. Go check out the movie if you get the chance!

Contact Info:

  • Email: richardchen.draws@gmail.com
  • Instagram: @richardchen.draws

Image Credit:
The photograph of myself working was taken by Alex Taler.

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