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Rising Stars: Meet Rachel Chu

Today we’d like to introduce you to Rachel Chu.

Hi Rachel, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
Clocking up to ten years of computer graphics production work, visual creation has always been my way of life without question. A vivid imagination, a healthy dose of videogame geekiness and love for the complex narratives we can deduce simply from how people choose to present themselves, I worked towards character creation in 3D and all of the disciplines involved to fully manifest these concepts.

Fast forward to 2015, I had a one-way ticket from London to LA and a seemingly random internship at an art fabrication workshop that physically formed characters and creatures – Pretty in Plastic, based in North Hollywood. I was actually meant to be continuing on to New York to start in one of the world’s primary VFX houses, but that fell through so I thought I would catch the flight anyway and see how long I lasted.

That three months span in Los Angeles would open my eyes to this indescribable city, from the grunge of Noho to the whisky-loving dive bars of Silverlake and Hollywood, the fresh breeze of the Westside and every patch in between. I fell deeply in love with this city.

After becoming so disillusioned with my graphic work, I experienced a visceral redirection toward the real world of materials and nature, for which there can be no true digital replacement or recreation.

The unique combination of my years of 3D work together with the practical immersion at the plastic-pouring workshop years ago, all blended and inspired by when I lived in Japan and the profound aesthetics and principles of Zen [Buddhism], leads me to this journey I walk today.

Alright, 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?
Creativity is as much an appreciation of beauty as it is a reflection of what is going on inside of yourself.

I had to find this out the hard way, and it has totally altered my course in life for which I am profoundly thankful.

After maintaining many years of a fast-paced and demanding digital production work, I moved to Los Angeles from London in 2017 and found this intensity even more extreme.

Through everyday of creative output and external review, I was constantly extracting from my internal well of creativity without ever realizing a need to recoup or replenish it until it finally ran dry.

Shortly after moving and building this same fast-paced life for myself, continuing my work alongside some of the best designers in the world, I experienced a significant stress-based physical breakdown which forced me to drop out of all my ongoing professional digital projects. At the time, I had no idea that the mental stress I was continuing to carry could affect my physical capacity in any way, and so had kept pushing forward until I simply got taken down.

Being creative is a source of great joy to so many in life. However, the demands of working as a professional creative every day – producing non-stop, for constant rounds of approvals, and building somebody else’s vision – without a personal recharge it eventually takes its toll.

When I create my art, it’s an uninterrupted relationship between myself and my work.

I never knew that would be so incredibly enriching and freeing.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I’m a computer graphics all-rounder by trade, branching across a significantly vast array of software and disciplines, for which I have carved my unique strength. Professionally I act as a bridge between departments as I am in the unique position to work natively within a range of areas. This always-learning nature has now taken my interest off of the screen. Through my work, I hope to now also bridge the physical and digital, highlighting the parallels and duality of both.

The best catch-all way I can describe it; an all-round 3-Dimensional artist! Digitally and physically, on screen and in the real world.

I’m in love with layers and depth, our world is made of these things. I love appreciating the infinite depth if everything, and building using the combination of the clean order of the geometric form with the chaos of nature, preserving natural impermanence in the chemical bonds of resin.

When your hands push and pull the clay, when you walk around a sculpture, you have a relationship with it. You are interacting and responding to its form in a way that you cannot with pixels.

Networking and finding a mentor can have such a positive impact on one’s life and career. Any advice?
Keep looking out for people who inspire you not just by what they create but also by who they are. Character traits you would like to emulate and develop, a perspective you’d like more of in your own life.

Just as importantly, people who make you feel like you can achieve great things.

You will start growing being around them by osmosis!

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