Ta-Wei Chao

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What is your name and your current occupation? 
My name is Ta-Wei Chao, and I did this animation with my wife, Tsai-Chun Han.
We are both freelance artist, which we work together as a team.

What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
We don’t really have any crazy job before…I worked as a part-time librarian when I was in college, and Tsai Chun used to be a comic artist assistance.

What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
We did a series of history Illustration book about tree Asian cities, Taipei, Tokyo, and Chang’an. I learned a lot of historical knowledge myself in the process of drawing the book.

Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business? 
I was born in Taoyuan, Taiwan, and graduated from CalArts’ Character Animation Program. Tsai-Chun Han was a born and raised in Taipei, Taiwan. She graduated Fu-Hsin Trade and Arts School, studied western painting.

What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
After I left my previous job as a storyboard artist, I started to work at home. Usually I wake up around 6am then have some breakfast, and a cup of coffee. I will start my work by drawing on my tablet. Besides eating lunch, I would usually do some exercise in the afternoon. I believe it is very important to stay healthy, because it is the key to have everything done on schedule.

What part of your job do you like best? Why? 
Get to draw everyday.

What part of your job do you like least? Why? 
Sometimes I need to change my design according for the client, who has no aesthetic sense for meaningless reason. This drives me crazy.

What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis, how has technology changed in the last few years in your field and how has that impacted you in your job?
We use an iMac with Wacom cintiq to do the job. I used to animate with pencil and paper, but recently I switched to computer because it’s easier to change and move stuff around. Computer also helps saving time, which I don’t need to scan all my drawings one by one.  However, I still miss drawing with pencil and paper. It gives me a different feel of texture. With the digital tools, I am still trying to mimic looks of traditional painting and drawing for the most of time, but it is still really hard to achieve the same natural brushstroke and color.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?  
If you could change the way the business works and is run how would you do it?
The most difficult part is communication. As an artist we need to communicate our idea to clients or coworkers. Everyone has a different stand point, sometimes it is really difficult to get the right word to describe the image in different people’s mind. I think things would be better if everyone can just respect each other’s idea and profession.

In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
No, I don’t travel that often.

Describe a tough situation you had in life.
I won’t say it is the toughest situation in my life, but when I served in the military camp in Taiwan, everyday was a struggle for me, not physically but mentally. We didn’t have any freedom in the camp, but just obey the rules. However it made me tougher as a man in the end.

Any side projects you’re working on that you’d like to share details of?
I am still looking for the inspiration for my next film, but I am working on some concept drawing for a feature animation project in Taiwan. I’m pretty exciting about it, because the story take place in Taiwan around 1980’s. It is the period of time, which I grew up with, so I am really looking forward to capture the image of my childhood memory.

Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
No…nothing unusual, I am just a normal person.
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
I feel making animation is a life long journey, which I’m also just in the beginning stage, but I believe if an artist just keep doing the things he/she like and stay truth to the work, He/she will find the people who like his work.

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