We had the good fortune of connecting with Christina Faulkner and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Christina, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?

When I first started working there was no balance. In college, I became conditioned to working 12-16 hour days to complete my assignments. I really internalized that “work around the clock” culture and tied my value as a person to it. It was ‘me’ and I was very proud of how long and hard I could work. That had a really profound impact on my life and mental health. I found it impossible to live in the moment because I always felt like I should be working. I would be thinking about how I wasn’t working while doing chores, hanging out with friends, and even on vacation. Free time was usually spent languishing. Lacking direction and motivation without an assignment in front of me. I felt guilty for doing anything other than sitting at my desk. I was also frequently exposed to things that reinforced this mindset, like watching people pull late nights at the office, social media glorifying hustle culture, and really expensive living situations. A mindset like that can only go on so long. I burned out quickly, stayed burnt out for years, and could never give myself a true mental break. I knew I needed a change.
In the past few years, I’ve made an effort to let go of the idea that to have worth as a person I had to be working. I still get my work done, but I try hard to leave it at my desk at the end of the work day. I’m clear with myself and others about my work/ life boundaries. I also make a big effort to be present in my free time and fill it with things that cultivate me as a person; like hobbies, movement, and seeing friends. It was hard at first to value this time without the thought that I could be working running through the back of my mind, but now I find myself really enjoying it. I don’t place any expectations upon myself other than to enjoy the moment and find something that engages me.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?

I am a character designer and visual development artist working in the animation industry. I just wrapped as a Visual Development Artist on Dreamworks TV’s Madagascar: A Little Wild TV series and have some exciting unannounced projects in the works.

The biggest thing that sets my work apart from others is the googly eyes I try to sneak on to everything.

The thing that excites me most is seeing animation opening up to many different kinds of perspectives. I remember watching Bojack Horseman for the first time, and it changing my world because I had never seen characters grapple with their mental health on screen in that way. It hit me at the right time, on such a deep level, and really made me feel seen for the first time in the animated medium. Whether it’s mental health, discussions about inequalities and toxic systems, or LGBTQ+ and BIPOC representation, animation should be empowering many different types of people to tell their stories and speak their truths in front of and behind the screen. I ultimately feel like the most important thing we can do as storytellers is to help kids and adults understand important issues and feel seen and valued just as they are. I think a lot about kids like myself growing up, who don’t fit in with their environment and how animated shows can really give them a chance to experience a safe space mentally. Something comforting and creative that lets them know there are kindred spirits somewhere.

I think the hardest challenge for me in animation has been keeping my passion alive. When I first started working, there was no work/life balance. I was constantly getting bogged down and working way too hard on everything. And when I burnt out, I burnt out for years, really losing sight of myself and my personal goals within the medium. The thing that helped me the most with that was establishing clear boundaries between professional and personal time. It can be kind of difficult to reinforce at times, but it’s absolutely essential to me remaining mentally fresh and excited enough to create my own stuff in my off time.

I think the most important lesson I learned working in the animation industry is to put your time and energy into the things you can control; things like your attitude, your boundaries, and how you treat others. Ultimately you can’t control the future, you can’t control many of the things that happen to you, but you can control how you respond to them. Also, always invest in yourself!

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
The best thing about LA is all the things that are so accessible. You can find great stuff in every small pocket of the city. I’d definitely take them hiking and to a lot of parks. I’d probably also take them to Urth Cafe. It was one of the first places I was ever taken to in LA and it occupies a really special place in my heart.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My partner Cyrus has been instrumental in enabling me to live my dream as an artist in LA. I wouldn’t be where I am now without all of his support, encouragement, guidance, and ace meme curation.

Website: www.christinafaulkner.com

Instagram: www.instagram.com/christinafaulknerart

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/christina-faulkner-art/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaulkne

Image Credits
Photo by Cyrus Soliman Art by Christina Faulkner

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.