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Meet Yuki Mori

Today we’d like to introduce you to Yuki Mori.

Yuki, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
My family moved to Rochester, Minnesota, from Japan when I was five years old. I probably had a hard time integrating into the Midwest because I remember being at home with family more than with friends. To keep me occupied, my mom used to make me big cardboard houses and let me draw and scribble all over them. I always liked making crafts, drawing and collecting stickers, beads and other junk to make more junk to put in my cardboard house.

I started to take art more seriously my junior year of high school. My art teacher had told me that pursuing art could lead to as much success as a more conventional career path and that definitely sparked something in me. That week I ditched all of my plans to go to a “regular” college and applied to all art schools. Mainly schools with animation programs. I was super selfish at the time and caused my family a lot of stress but I was so excited that I wasn’t thinking of what I would do if I didn’t get accepted.

Fortunately, I was accepted and moved to California to study character animation. When I was younger I wasn’t very patient so studying animation felt like a strange match, but there was something about animation that I really liked. The school I went to focused heavily on traditional paper and pencil animation and had a strong foundation. Sitting down for hours everyday to finish assignments and personal projects really made me appreciate animating. After learning the fundamentals and finishing a few short films, I decided to transfer to ArtCenter to study illustration in order to create stronger imagery to further elevate my work.

Has it been a smooth road?
Looking back at my time as a student, I don’t think any step of it was smooth. It always felt like a mild mess. I studied Illustration, but I knew that I still wanted to pursue animation. So every semester I would try to make animated projects along an illustration deadline. Sometimes it’s easy with just a gif for a midterm, but other times I was trying to finish a 2 minute short in a few days. It was tough and I’ve almost exhausted myself many times but after every project, I found myself still excited to keep working.

My journey so far has not been linear at all, so there is a lot of self-doubts that comes with it. Whenever I would compare myself with my peers who are pursuing a clearer path, I would worry if what I am doing right now is the right choice or not. Through the years, I’ve gotten used to trusting my gut and my process more but I still get hit with waves of insecurity. However, I am very lucky to have friends who are supportive and always tell me to believe in myself more.

There have been many more bumps in the road but I am glad that they were there. I think creativity shines the most when you have obstacles, and they all helped me improve and be a little bit stronger as an artist.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
My work consists of mixed media animation and illustration. I do everything from ideation, character design, set building, etc. Whatever is needed to execute the project!

A lot of my work has been described as nostalgic and charming. I think this is because I base a lot of my work off of my childhood and finding a sense of belonging. I spent my time trying to juggle my American identity, along with my Chinese and Japanese roots. When I was younger, I often felt like an outsider, I was always aware of my flaws, and what made me different. With my work, I try to create stories for characters where their imperfections are highlighted in a playful, inviting way. Many of them are based off of my friends and myself, which might be a reason why they feel more relatable.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
I hope that in the next 5-10 years, there will be more variety within mainstream animation. There have been a few movies and shows that show more experimentation within animation and that is so exciting to see! More contemporary visual treatments and techniques that are used to emphasize the story is something that I look forward to for sure. With new technologies developing, the ways that audiences are taking in animated content is changing. So there will be areas to explore different ways of storytelling and communicating through animation. Everything is also becoming more interactive with AR/VR and I can’t wait to see how these advancements will be used within the industry even more.

One of my goals is to work within children’s educational programming, and I am excited to see these advances could be used to help educate kids!

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Yuki Mori

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