Chin Ko

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What is your name and your current occupation?
Chin Ko, Visual Development Artist at Dreamworks Animation.


What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
Selling cloth washers and dryers, serving croissants and lattes at a bakery, and also I was in the Army guarding an island of hundreds inhabitants for two years.


What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
I love everything that I was involved at Dreamworks, however my favorite project is “Rocky and Bullwinkle”, the new animation short from Dreamworks.  It was fun to work independently most of the time, from early visual development throughout the entire production.


Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I’m from Taiwan, a small island but a very beautiful place with beautiful people!!I always loved to draw since I was in elementary school, but becoming an artist isn’t easy if you grow up in a very traditional Chinese family. I had my struggles but what made it worthwhile, is the joy it has given me. It’s my life, and art is a very important part of my life, they cannot be separated.


What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
It usually starts with a cup of tea, checking emails, setting up a schedule for the day, and then start painting.  I usually have a conference with the art director and production designer in the morning and maybe art review in the afternoon, but other than that I spend most of time painting and thinking about ideas.  Getting inspired and always hoping to inspire others.


What part of your job do you like best? Why?
I like to create something from nothing.  Every time when I start to put the first brush stroke on the painting, I feel happy.  Creating something from my imagination or ideas, is an amazing and powerful thing.


What part of your job do you like least? Why?
The waiting after the project is finished and before it is released. While I am proud of my work, I also want other people to enjoy it and waiting for their reaction is stressful.


 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?
I use Photoshop with Wacom Cintiq most of the time.  Technology changes, but the fundamentals are the same; it’s all about the artist’s interpretation and ideas.


What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
Getting older everyday?  I definitely feel less energy and require 7-8 hours of sleep everyday.  And all these new young artists are so creative and full of energy. They all have my respect.


In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
When I worked at LucasArts, I met George Lucas several times at a Christmas party, company BBQ, and other occasions.  I felt the force just by standing right next to him, a very powerful man.


Describe a tough situation you had in life.
I gave up teaching Mathematics for a career in Fine Art. After some arguments with my parents, I didn’t talk to my family for about 6 months…I was alone in the States, with all my unpaid bills. I worked part time and went to school. It was a very difficult period but that was also one of the best times of my life, I met some of my closest friends, I learned to be independent and most importantly I was clear about being an artist.


Any side projects you’re working on that you’d like to share details of?
I’m working on a mobile game with some friends in the industry. We want to make a simple game that can be enjoyed by anyone.  We are planning to release it this year.  Also, I’m working on an animation story pitch. The story is based on one from my childhood.


Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
I think I’m pretty good at badminton. I like to operate remote control cars and modify them.  I’m also very good at finding good deals online, does that count as a hobby?

Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
Always challenge yourself and never stop learning. Don’t expect it to be easy, but if you believe you are one in a hundred, maybe you are!


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