What is your name and your current occupation?
My name is David Chung, and I’m a Background Designer at Nickelodeon. In galleries most people know me as The Chung!!, smartass painter.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
I used to be a taste tester of various exotic animal meats for The Taste of Hunan Chinese Eatery until they were shut down for selling pirated prostitutes and DVDs. But other than that, I guess working at PetSmart was kind of crazy. I once made it rain dog food after puncturing a palette of Eukanuba on the top stock shelf with a fork lift….on purpose…over a couple of rude douchebags.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
I’m proud of every project I’ve ever been a part of!! Well, except for one. No, two. Maybe more. But we don’t talk about those. I was young and stupid.
But the current project I’m working on, I’m beyond proud of being a part of it! But I don’t think I’m allowed to talk about it. Or am I? I have no idea what the deal is about being able to talk about shows that haven’t aired yet. Everything seems so taboo after we had to take a mandatory sexual harassment seminar last week. But I think I’m allowed to say that it’ll be on Nickelodeon this Fall 2011, and it’s called Robot and Monster. Also the intent of the harasser doesn’t matter, it’s the impact on the harassed.
How did you become interested in animation?
Who isn’t interested in animation!? Well I guess Steve doesn’t care much for animation. My wife is always talking about him, “Steve this! And Steve that!” pffffft. Fucking Steve.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I’m from the streets. I don’t even know how I got into animation to be honest with you. I didn’t even go to school for animation. I majored in illustration and showed in galleries. Then one night at a club, someone bought me a drink, next thing I know, I woke up at a computer being forced to design backgrounds for Spaceba…oh yeah, I said I wouldn’t talk about that. Anyways, that was in 2007 and therapy has been expensive.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
As soon as I get in, I fire up my computer, flip through my emails, go retrieve some coffee and a muffin, realize that all the best muffins had the tops stolen off of them, then I go back to my cubicle feeling all grumpy, then I open up my latest working file and cram as much drawing in as I can for the next 3 hours until it’s lunch. When I come back to my cubicle, I usually feel miserable because I’ve stuffed my face with various sandwiches and ice cream. Working my way out of the food coma I put myself into, I flood my veins back up with caffeine and start drawing again until it’s time to go home…where I end up having to draw and paint some more for galleries until about 4-5am every morning. Then I pass out in bed next to my wife, only to have her punch me in the chest to wake me up because my alarm has been going off for the past 10 minutes and I’m snoring like a gravel truck. Then it’s back to work!
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
Everything! I get to draw all day long and I work with the best and most fun crew in the world! But if you want to be really specific, I love it when they put brand new urinal cakes in the men’s room. They smell like honey dew melons and sunshine…until it gets dissolved in pee…then not so much.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
Other than never being able to get the muffins I want because someone keeps stealing the tops to them? It’s listening to people bitch and moan about not wanting to do their work. Usually they would spend more time coming up with excuses not to do their job and throwing a fit over something they could have done in half the time they’ve spent complaining. Bah. Oh well, they’re at every job I’ve ever worked at, especially when I worked at The Taste of Hunan Chinese Eatery.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
the long hours. Even after work hours, you’re still mentally working.
What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
I use Photoshop CS5 to do all my design type work, but since it’s a CG show, everybody else uses some sort of witch craft.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
When I first started at Nickelodeon, I briefly met the creators of Avatar: The Last Airbender, Mike DiMartino and Bryen Konietzko…but then I got nervous and developed a tummy ache and ran back to my cube to practice breathing like a pregnant lady.
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
I’ve always had trouble being able to live in one place for more than 4 years. Hopefully I can call LA home for awhile.
Any side projects or you’re working on or hobbies you’d like to share details of?
I’m constantly painting for gallery shows on the side. The next show I’ll be in is the next I am 8-bit show, then it’s a solo show in October.
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
I can inhale air from my mouth and exhale through my nostrils while my heart beats at the same time.
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
Try to talk to as many people in the industry as you can to get a feel for what you really want to do. Don’t think that any job is beneath you, if you can get your foot in the door by being an intern or PA, then do it! So many of our PAs are the most talented people ever, and many of them have moved onto being designers, painters, CG modelers, etc. plus they have the most insider knowledge of the industry out of everybody. And in the same regards, don’t ever think that anybody is beneath you either. in short, don’t be a dick, work hard, and you’ll get there.