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Meet Yana Pan

Today we’d like to introduce you to Yana Pan.

So, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I’m an animator director born and raised in China, but now based in LA. My creative journey started when I saw my friend in first grade who drew a grape princess. It was the first time that I understood “imagination”, and I’m fascinating at how she could create such amazing character. Ever since then, I always draw as a hobby, until I decided to go to School of Visual Arts in New York City. The next thing I knew, I graduated from SVA and started my life working in the advertising industry.

My first job was great, the people that I worked with were amazing and I learned a lot from everyone; however the paid is really bad, in another word they didn’t pay me at all for a couple of months. After I tried to negotiate with them, they finally decided to pay me $100 a day. Soon I decided to left the company because what they were doing is unfair to me, and what I was doing is unfair to the entire industry. As a foreigner that needs visa to work and stay in the US, finding a job is always very challenging, and company would use your status to take advantage of you. I also gave myself the pressure of I need to prove that my works are better than the local artist, because why would people hire you (a foreigner) than someone is an American if your work is mediocre? Sometimes it was a healthy pressure, sometimes it’s not. I’m lucky that I’m able to manage the pressure myself and be able to find other jobs.

Eventually, I decided to go back to school because I was growing as an artist, and I had very different view on many things compared to the 18-year-old me. I thought it’s about time to explore myself as an artist again and took the time to do works for myself and develop. With all the hard works that I putted in throughout the years, Calarts’s experimental animation program accepted me, which it was my dream program.

Right now, I’m still doing my MFA at CalArts, and I’m slowly but surely trying to shift myself towards someone who is more than an animator. I want to be everything, an animator, director, designer, chief, fashion designer, and I believe I can be everything.

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?
One of the biggest struggles for me is getting a visa to work in the US as a Chinese. Even when company is willing to sponsor me because my nationality is China, so I need to go through a lottery to get the working visa, and there are only about 30% chance to get it if you only have an undergrad degree. It is a pure luck thing, which I didn’t have the luck to win the lottery.

I think most of the American don’t know how hard it is for immigrant to work in the US, even when we find the job, the visa is still pain in the ass. Because it was in the visa requirement that first of all the company needs to prove that I’m not taking any American’s job, and then after we submitted the application, there will be lottery for Chinese people. Even when your nationality is not China, there is still a chance of being declined.

Please tell us more about your art.
I’m proficient in 2d animation and design, and what sets my apart is my colors and textures in my artworks. I’m also very adaptable, even though I have a strong personal style, but I could easily adapt to any style for commercial works.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Persistent is the most important thing to me, but do it with a purpose. I always evaluate my works and try to see what I’m lacking of and what I wanna achieve.

Contact Info:

  • Website:
  • Email:
  • Instagram: yanapan.animation

Image Credit:

Design and Animated by Yana PAN

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