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Conversations with Li-Yu Chen

Today we’d like to introduce you to Li-Yu Chen.

Li-Yu Chen

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I’m a motion designer from Taiwan, currently based in Los Angeles. However, the journey to reach this point has been long. My passion for art began in childhood; I loved painting and playing with toys like Lego, which is somewhat related to what I do now. My early goal was to pursue a college education in an art-related major.

During that time, I even prepared for the technical entrance exams for design and art subjects in Taiwan. However, I soon gave up on that path. I couldn’t quite pinpoint why, but I felt that I didn’t have an interest in traditional art such as watercolor, sketches, and oil painting. I returned to the typical academic life that most Taiwanese students experience, focusing on regular subjects to prepare for college.

In the end, I ended up in a business program. Throughout the four years there, I found myself somewhat interested in those subjects, but I also knew it wasn’t the right field for me in the long run. My personality and passion didn’t align with business. The most important thing is that I still felt a passion for art and design.

So, during my final year of undergrad, I made the decision to shift my career path in a different direction. It wasn’t a sudden decision; I had always known that I would eventually come back to art. The question was, in what direction should I go?

The only things I knew for sure were my love for painting, watching films and TV shows, animation, playing with digital applications, and utilizing tech devices to fuel my creativity. After some research, I discovered that motion design was a perfect fit for my interests.

That’s when I began my journey in this field. I enrolled in a graduate school known for its motion design program, dedicating time to catch up on the design sense and technical skills I lacked. I spent around two years there to boost my skills and design sense and expand my overall horizons in this field. I had a great time there. This year, I graduated and found an almost dream job for me. Now, I’m settling down in LA.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
It’s never been easy for me to reach this point. Since the moment I decided to change my career, nothing has been easy. I’ve experienced a lot of self-doubt since the time I decided to change my career path. I wondered how I could compete with those people who have spent 5 or 10 years in the design field already. How could I catch up with them? How could I compete with them?

But I chose to take on this challenge. I spent around a year preparing my portfolio for graduate school. The more work I put into it, the more I realized how much I love this field. I was accepted by the school, but then I faced another challenge: adapting to life in the US. This is my first time here, and my English is not good enough to be completely comfortable dealing with daily issues, but it’s okay—I’m doing the best I can.

The first year I spent in the US was smoother than I thought, even though there were many challenges to overcome as an international student. Fortunately, I met so many good friends, schoolmates, and faculty members who supported me through all the challenges. I also feel that I have been improving as I stay here. I’m so happy I chose to come here to chase my goal.

Language, academic work, and working in this US are all new and challenging to me, but I’m trying to confront these challenges on the way to achieving my goal.

Overall so far, there have been moments of crying, feeling depressed, and experiencing pressure, but I’m glad I didn’t run away. I’ve been doing what I should do, confronting these challenges, and getting closer to what I want.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
In Motion Graphics industry, we tend to position ourselves as either designers or animators. However, I’m interested in both. I continue learning various subjects and techniques I need, such as illustration, 3D, and 2D, as I believe that having knowledge in all these areas is helpful for creating good work.

Currently, I work as a designer and animator in the field of motion graphics, primarily focusing on creating title sequences for films and TV shows. This is sort of my dream job, and I never thought I could have this opportunity at the beginning of my career. In this field, I believe there’s room for more art and creative concepts to be incorporated into our work, and I feel fortunate to be a part of it.

We all have a different way of looking at and defining success. How do you define success?
My definition of success keeps changing. However, for now, success is doing what you truly want to do without being internally or externally mentally or physically forced to do things. It’s about having the freedom to do the things you genuinely enjoy. At that point, you will experience an extraordinary sense of freedom. I believe I still have a lot of work to do to achieve this status, but at least I know I’m closer to it than I was years ago.

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