Debbie Yu is a wonderful person I had the pleasure of discovering. Not only is she a talented artist, but she loves sketching, life drawing, and animation! Being a recent Graduate of Animation at Sheridan College, she is at a point in her life where she is just having a great time learning more about art, herself and the world! Read below for the full Q&A…
As an artist with formal education training, is this something you would recommend?
Debbie: I think school provided a great environment for learning, and a healthy competition with your peers. It was awesome working beside very talented and passionate people. I’ve made great friends who have also become colleagues. So for me, school provided a very valuable experience.
What was your time like at Sheridan?
Debbie: I worked at really weird hours. I was really passionate about figure drawing, like many of my peers. I would have to say probably due to my first year teacher Mark Thurman being so encouraging and his work was really inspiring, and pushed me in a good direction. In first year I would go every day to the extra classes just to improve- it was addictive! Also I helped out on a couple films that the senior students were doing. Also I was very lucky to have the chance to have worked with an amazing and talented team to create the short film, Electropolis during school. By my last year, I created the film The Flute Player.
I love the calendar project you participated in for 2012. What was the overall objective for this calendar (the type of artwork and theme), and what was your mindset going into it?
Debbie: Thank you! My friend Kyu Bum Lee came up with the idea. I think we all just wanted an excuse to draw our favourite things, girls, creatures, and environments. The best thing about working on this is that we had a deadline! Because I don’t finish so many personal projects things I start.
What is the biggest challenge you encounter when transitioning from traditional sketching to digital painting?
Debbie: I love the beautiful colors of ink. Even if it’s just black and white, once I scan it in, it’s like the warmth of the drawing disappears. Also when you’re drawing, the material becomes a part of the art and presentation, digitally it’s just a texture on a rectangular box. Also I haven’t yet found a way to imitate the real texture of pencil drawing digitally. Having said that I also love digital painting. It’s just a different way to draw and paint!
Is speed painting a form of excercise for your abilities?
Debbie: Yes, for sure. It is a way for me to practice painting form, observing light and colour, and yes, excercising what I know. I still have a lot to learn.
The Flute Player was a short film that you oversought. Could you tell us what the animation process was like and working with typographers and other creatives?
Debbie: I had the film idea brewing for a long time. What I wanted out of the film was to just draw and design what I loved, what I thought was beautiful, and charm my audience into my world. I’m really proud of everything I’ve done for it, but looking back there are so many things I want to change. I am very thankful to all my helpers. My typographer is a very good friend of mine, Jennifer Thai. She is an amazing talented designer and took some time out of her busy schedule to create a font for me based on the style of my film.
Do you have any favorite Asian films or Anime?
Debbie: I absolutely love TOTORO! I grew up watching it. My favorite scene was when Satsuki was picking up firewood and it got blown away by a huge gust of wind. I actually remember re-enacting that scene (I was three years old) with markers.
You do a bit of freelancing so I was curious if how you dealt with an unruly client? How to approach to remedy that situation if you find yourself in that unfortunate position?
Debbie: Yes, when freelancing you have to know a bit of business. A lot of times clients will try to undervalue your work and time. People know that fresh grads, or students are super eager to get experience, so they take advantage of that. A lot of times they try to offer you spec work, or try to pull out half way through, and not pay you. My advice is to always make sure everything is clear on the contract, and signed, and even ask for a deposit before you begin a project.
What advice can you offer to recent grads to create a killer portfolio?
Debbie: Do what you love. Do what is you. Do what you think is beautiful. And also, keep studying, keep practicing, and keep inspired.
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