To Top

Check Out Alex Liou’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Alex Liou.

Hi Alex, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
I’m a 29 years old freelance Motion Designer / 3D Artist based in LA. I’m originally from Austin, TX and have a degree in music business from the University of Texas at Austin. I’ve actually spent most of my life so far in the music industry, education, and performance. I played a number of instruments growing up including piano, bassoon, guitar, and percussion.

I played around in different rock bands and eventually joined marching band in high school. This led me to be part of an activity called Drum Corps International for a minute, which boiled down simply is professional marching band where groups of 150 members would tour the US for a summer performing at different competitions. We would rehearse anywhere from 6 – 14 hours outside in the sun. I performed in the front ensemble with a group called the Bluecoats, based out of Canton, OH, for the summers of 2010 – 2013. You were only eligible to perform until you were 22, so once I hit that age limit, I set my sights on my final performance opportunity with the indoor/winter version known as Winter Guard International (age limit 23). In 2014, I decided to move to Nashville, TN in order to perform with my dream ensemble Music City Mystique. It was during this time I also ended up landing an internship and job with the drumstick/mallet manufacturing company Innovative Percussion. As the youngest hire in 10 years, and a shining resume of 1 photoshop class in high school, they decided to toss me into media and marketing. After finishing my performance career, I also started teaching at Music City Mystique but also taking care of media duties. I started with videography and graphic design, which eventually led me to the world of motion design and visual effects. I immediately fell in love and plunged myself into watching tutorials and taking as many classes as I could online to learn about it. Every free second I had was spent learning or creating something to get better.

All this time though, it felt like I was just going through the motions at work. It grew to just be a mundane repeated task that I had to clock in and clock out every day. I could’ve just sat at that job coasting through life on a comfortable steady paycheck. But I wanted more, I wanted to see what else was out there and to learn from the artists that I looked up to. The morning I turned 25, I had a total quarter-life crisis just feeling so lost in what I wanted to do. After consoling a lot of friends, I realized I just wasn’t happy where I was. It was from there that I decided I needed to change careers and move somewhere else to throw my system into shock. As someone who grew up in the South, you don’t see nearly as much diversity as you do on the coasts. I was in Taiwan one year with my parents and realized how strange it was to be amongst a sea of people who looked more like me. I decided from there that I wanted to move somewhere more diverse. I had just had an incredible experience visiting a friend in LA a few years back and it was also the city where so many of the jobs I wanted to be a part of existed, so it ended up looking pretty perfect. From there, I just started reaching out to different design studios in LA looking for internships, expressing my passion and decision to change careers.

Eventually, I was accepted by this awesome studio Cantina Creative and got a chance to not only learn but work on some of the biggest projects of my life so far. Working on Avengers: Endgame was never even a possibility in my head. Since then, my life has just sort of had a positive snowball effect in terms of career and just life in general. I’ve been freelancing since then, which is almost three years now, and love this new lifestyle. Having the constant unknown but also the opportunity to work with different studios really keeps me on my toes and fresh as an artist. I’ve also never been a better student so eager to learn new skills. I’ve found new groups of amazing friends here who I love dearly and can’t wait to spend time with again. And like I mentioned previously, the immersion of culture has been amazing for me. Now living in Koreatown, it still blows my mind to walk out every day and see more people who look like me than not. But also the food selection, how could I ever leave that? It’s absolutely been one of those situations where the risk was truly worth the reward and more. I can’t even imagine where I would be if I had decided to take the “safe” route.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Absolutely not, there were a lot of bumps along the road just figuring out what direction to go. I just kept doing the music thing thinking this was what I wanted to do, but deep down my passion had just sort of shifted. I still love listening to music, but I don’t think I want to work in that world exclusively. Getting out of my comfort zone was a big one. I had my friends in Nashville, I knew where the grocery stores were, I knew my neighborhood, I was comfortable. I had spent my life so far in music so I had already cemented my career right? But all in all, I wasn’t happy. Realizing and coming to terms with this was a tough task and honestly took me a little while. Just knowing which direction you want to face is a daunting task in itself. Next in line is probably just feeling adequate enough but also attempting to catch up to other artists that have been in the industry. With me entering this game later in my life, I always feel like I’m playing catch up. I think most, if not all creatives, suffer from imposter syndrome where we never quite feel like we’re ready. That’s something that I still deal with on a day to day basis. You just learn to face that fear and move forward. I also don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing to feel because if we didn’t, would we still have that same drive to push to get better?

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I’m a motion designer who primarily spends his time in the 3D world. I love creating trippy, abstract, and experimental pieces of work. I’ve been spending a lot of my time lately playing in the 3D software Houdini and discovering new ways to incorporate different simulations such as smoke, water, fire, and more. It’s been a really tough but fun learning journey getting this program under my belt. I’ve also done a bit of FUI work which stands for Future User Interface. That’s like the various screen and HUD graphics I got to do on Avengers: Endgame. Nowadays, I also strive to create personal projects throughout the year that continue to push my skills as an artist. Besides Houdini, I also use Cinema 4D, Redshift, Octane, and the Adobe Creative Suite. I feel like every year, I have something that I can be more proud of than the year previous, and that feels amazing. Up till this point, the highlights were definitely working on these various movies. My favorite one so far was probably getting to do the title animations for Bloodshot. That was a really fun technique to develop and incorporate. I also sort of inserted myself on the project when I wasn’t originally hired for that gig because of my skill set.

I think what sets me apart from other artists is my skill set and artistic eye. Houdini is a tricky program to learn that not everyone necessarily vibes with how it operates. But also, my different influences and experiences have helped me train and develop my style. I’ve grown up on a life of anime, manga, food, travel, video games, and more. Mix that in with the regimented lifestyle of Drum Corps and practice habits of a musician. That all amounts to how I structure myself and my work. I also like to think that I’m stupidly organized when it comes to projects.

This year, I’ve been asked by my good friend PJ Richardson to help him out with the FITC Toronto 2021 title sequence. This is a pretty huge opportunity in our industry that gets a lot of eyes on. This again was something I had never even dreamed of working on or felt like I was ready. We’ve just been having a blast exploring and seeing what new techniques we can implement. So for me, this year has just topped it once again. Who knows what else is coming down the road, we’re not even halfway through the year!

How do you think about happiness?
I think about happiness in a number of ways. My personal success in terms of career is a big one, but more in the sense of getting the opportunity to work on cooler and cooler projects versus just the monetary gains. The monetary improvement has definitely been a cherry on top, but it’s been more awesome for me not only to see but also feel the progression of my work. I also think about happiness by the amount of time I spend with family, friends, and my cat Appa. Obviously, some of that’s been a bit difficult this year, but I’ve been trying to stay connected as much as possible. With the power of the internet, I have had the opportunity to meet a lot of new people through social media or Discord servers too. It’s always the reminder of not forgetting to look up, there’s more to life than just your work. Lastly, it’s by experiencing as many different things as possible. This could be from traveling, camping, watching anime, meeting new people or even eating delicious foods. I truly believe that the more we are exposed to, the more places of inspiration we can pull from. I cannot wait to safely travel and share meals with family and friends again.

Contact Info:

Image Credits:

Headshot: Sam Cruz

Suggest a Story: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in Uncategorized

  • Hidden Gems: Local Businesses & Creatives You Should Know

    Every day we have a choice. We can support an up and coming podcaster, try a new family-run restaurant, join a...

    Local StoriesJuly 19, 2023
  • IG Hidden Gem

      flipbirdfilms — — — corecontributorsgroup — — @ianevenstar — @sarahmichellecoaching — — wish.wellness — — @bugazziart...

    Local StoriesFebruary 19, 2022
  • VoyageLA FAQs

    We’ve prepared this FAQ about VoyageLA in an effort to ensure that anyone who is interested can have a full understanding...

    Local StoriesSeptember 23, 2018
  • The Future of Food

    We worked with the folks at Squarespace to find the most exciting and innovative local entrepreneurs in the LA area and...

    Local StoriesJune 29, 2017
  • The True Renegades

    Cindy Whitehead is a 70’s pro skateboarder who was inducted into the Skateboarding Hall of Fame in 2016, she is the...

    Cindy WhiteheadMay 11, 2017
  • Breaking Free of the Golden Handcuffs

    Jennifer Berson, the founder of JENERATION PR, shares her incredible story of breaking free from her golden handcuffs and pursing her...

    Jennifer BersonApril 25, 2017

    Last week, I found myself sitting in my classic sports car in Compton, CA on a Friday evening with a flat...

    Rick VillasenorMarch 1, 2016