Where did you grow up and when did you decide to become an artist?
I grew up in Houston, Texas. I was always "the class artist" in school, but I don't think there was a particular moment I decided to become an artist. I wasn't one of those kids who knew exactly what I wanted to do when I grew up, and when it came to choosing colleges, I chose to study animation thinking it sounded like an interesting career path and fairly aligned with my interests.
Did you go to an art school or are you self taught? How did you develop your skills?
I went to USC for animation and later took two terms at Art Center for illustration. Luckily, being in Los Angeles meant I could continue to take life drawing classes at the Animation Guild and take design classes at Concept Design Academy. Besides taking classes, I spent a lot of time drawing on my own time and hanging out with fellow artists.
Have you always been supported in your artistic path or has it been challenging to let your family and friends understand your choice?
I'm lucky to have very trusting and supportive parents. While initially, they might have had their worries for an art career is a rather unconventional path, they trusted me to choose my own path and make my own decisions for better or for worse.
What was the strongest influence you had when you were growing up ( artists, movies, cartoons, comics etc.. ) ?
I loved Miyazaki movies, Disney movies, and books --both illustrated children's books and fantasy novels when older.
Did you have a favourite subject to draw when you were a child and do you still have one today? If you do, what makes it so special?
I loved drawing princesses, mermaids and girls with outrageous hairdos. I often drew inspiration from fairy tales and children's books, so my favorite subjects were indicative of the books I read. I also went through a phase where I tagged all my friends' notebooks and classroom whiteboards with poop. Actually, that wasn't a phase, I still do that.
What part of the creation process is the most fun and easy and what part is the hardest?
I both love and hate the initial phase of finding research and sketching ideas. I love tackling a new design challenge and not knowing what I will come up with, but sometimes I have difficulty knowing when to stop sketching and start finalizing a design. Things get much easier one you find a direction and have done sufficient research.
What projects have you worked on in the past and what are you working on at the moment (if you can tell us)?
I'm currently working on a Disney Jr show called Miles From Tomorrowland at Wild Canary.
What is your longterm career goal and what would your dream project be?
I mostly want to work on many exciting and challenging projects with people who inspire me and help me grow as an artist. I'd love to lead a team as Art Director, but I don't see that as an end goal to my career, but rather one of hopefully many interesting opportunities.
Working for a company or freelancing: what suits you best? And why?
I work better at a studio than freelancing, since I like having the separation of work and free time. With full-time freelance, work and free time often blend together, and I'm always thinking about work or feeling guilty about not working. However, I'm definitely not opposed to taking on freelance when a fun project comes up.
What advise would you give to an artist who is dealing with an art-block? How do you boost your imagination and keep yourself creative?
Stop comparing yourself to other artists, and be inspired rather than discouraged. I try to maintain a healthy balance of work and life experiences, which can be anything from traveling, trying new restaurants, watching movies, going dancing, or coffee shop sketching. I also continue to take classes, practice life drawing, and go plein-air painting. Stay motivated by surrounding yourself with people who share similar interests and goals in improving their art, which is helpful on those days you don't feel like waking up early to go painting!
Concept art, animation, illustration, comics, there are lots of choices. When you’re young, sometimes you know only one thing: you love to draw. What should a young artist take into consideration to make the right decision when choosing an artistic path?
I know everyone says this, but do what you love--seriously! And if you don't know what you love, take time to discover what that is. There also isn't one path to finding success. Everyone's path is different and sometimes people take longer to discover what they love to do. Our interests change all the time too, so what we find exciting right now might be replaced by a new passion a few years later.
Many art teachers and schools suggest to their students that a commercial artist should always work in one consistent style if they wish to have a healthy career. In your own experience, do you believe this to be true?
Unless you already have a standout style and large fanbase, I would say having versatility is essential to a healthy career, especially when starting out. Studios are more likely to bounce you on to a new project after one ends if you have a diverse and adaptable skillset. Also, adapting to and mastering different styles helps you learn and grow as an artist, and in my opinion, makes work more fun!
What’s your point of view about the industry today: what are the expectation for someone who wants to make a living with an artistic career?
I think now is an exciting time to be in the industry with so many projects in the works, and not just in TV, feature or games. Studios and artists keep pushing the art form, and creating new media. New grads should not expect to land their dream job immediately, but should persevere and remain open-minded to new and different opportunities.
Finally, Where can we see your art online and get in touch with you? How can we buy your creations and support your work?
You can see my most recent sketches on my Instagram ( @michelleinteal ), and also on Twitter ( @MichelleInTeal ), Tumblr ( michelle-lin.tumblr.com ) and my website ( Michellelinart.com )
Thank you Michelle :)