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Rising Stars: Meet Amber Ren

Today we’d like to introduce you to Amber Ren.

Hi Amber, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
I spent my childhood in China and moved to the United States in middle school. I have always drawn since I was a child. However, after high school, I went to study Business at Georgetown University. During my time there, I was really unhappy with my choice of major and felt lost about my future. I just couldn’t picture myself doing finance in the future.

Eventually, I made the decision to follow my heart and applied to CalArts’ Character Animation program because I have always loved animation growing up. Luckily, I got accepted. After graduating, I started working as a color stylist at Dreamworks TV on Trolls. During that time, I also looked into illustrating books. After some research, I got an agent, and started from there.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
My biggest struggle was landing my first job after graduating CalArts. While I really liked animation and the teamwork it required to create something together, I had a hard time reconciling my personal style with what the animation industry was looking for. After some time, I was able to circumvent that by expressing myself through children’s books which I also adore. Another one of my struggles that I still deal with now is time management. Both animation and children’s book illustrations are very demanding so I have to sacrifice a lot of personal time to meet the deadlines. I love doing both so it is a worthy trade-off in my case.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I am currently a background painter on Jellystones at Warner Bros. Animation. For my personal work, I am inspired by my love for folk art, and traditional Chinese painting, as well as my own childhood memories from China. I also illustrate children’s books. I’ve illustrated 6 books so far and one of them is Because written by Mo Willems which is a New York Times Bestseller. Earlier this year, my art for Because was featured as part of the National Symphony Orchestra Family Concert at the Kennedy Center. That was an amazing experience seeing my art projected on the big screen.

What matters most to you? Why?
My dream is to make my art have an impact on people. As a college student at that time, I will never forget how I felt leaving the theater after watching Toy Story 3. It was such a relatable, heartwarming story about growing up that moved me deeply. I told myself that I want to create things that will touch people the way that movie did. I am still working towards that goal today. One day I will make everyone cry like how I bawled watching Toy Story 3!

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