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

Hi David, why did you pursue a creative career?
I wouldn’t consider myself a particularly intuitive artist. I have a lot of artist friends who tell me that they knew from a young age that they were interested in drawing and painting and all things “artistic”- I was not that. I spent a lot of my teenage years studying for standardized testing and bouncing around from one extra-curricular activity to the next. I tried a LOT of things, like swim team, piano, figure skating, tennis, math competitions, etc., but nothing really stuck. And while I definitely had the grades to back up many different areas of study, I didn’t feel like I was really learning anything of value in school.

So in the meantime, I turned to things like games, anime, and movies to keep myself happy. Eventually, in my junior year of high school I started to seriously consider art as a career. It definitely took a lot to convince my parents, but after going to countless figure drawing sessions and drawing in multiple sketchbooks every day, I managed to apply and get accepted to several art schools.

Throughout my time in college at Ringling College of Art and Design, I came to realize that art for art’s sake was something I was not interested in at all- rather, the ability of visual art to communicate an idea or tell an important story is what makes art so powerful. Pretty pictures can be nice to look at, but if they have no substance or story, then they might as well be nothing more than a self-indulgent expression. The attempt to convey something raw and uniquely universal to the human experience is something I think is extremely difficult to achieve, but it’s something I think every person needs and appreciates. Deep down, we all have a desire to be understood somehow, and the pursuit of the ability to tap deep into those emotional roots is a very specific challenge that I find to be one of the most fulfilling things I’ve ever done.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I went to Ringling College of Art and Design and made an animated short film called Bon Appetit! It’s musical about a snail who wants to be a part of something greater, even if it means he has to make some sacrifices. Even though the message is maybe a little unhealthy, I think that’s pretty representative of who I am- as long as it’s something I’m interested in and I’m committed to, I try to do whatever it takes to get something done.

A really big lesson I learned is to pick the problems you like and minimize or delegate the ones that you don’t. When making my film, I knew I wanted to hone in on the animation and cartoony aspects, but I really didn’t like working with sims (cloth and hair computer simulations) because of how finnicky they tend to be, so I designed my story around a character without hair or clothing. That way, I could reduce the amount of time and work I had to put into things I wasn’t as interested in, and was able to put time into challenges I did enjoy, such as animation.

Also, consistency in smaller steps is much more impressive than huge leaps every once in a blue moon. Passion won’t keep you working and growing, but persistence and a good schedule will. I used to work in short bursts before college because I’d only start things when I felt like I had a spurt of energy or inspiration, but those things come and go very frequently in unpredictable ways. When I had to come up with new story ideas every week for story classes, scheduling time to sit down at a desk with a cup of coffee or tea got me a lot further than waiting for inspiration to strike.

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.
I’m really not a person that likes a super strict or heavy schedule- I prefer to have a few options and then play it by ear, that way you can have enough breathing room and really feel like you’re taking your time and enjoying the moment. I love just existing in a place and feeling the energy of life around me without necessarily having to be in the spotlight all the time, so for that reason, I like visiting places like farmer’s markets, food trucks, small parks, cozy cafes, hole-in-the-wall restaurants, that sort of thing. I also don’t enjoy commuting frequently or over long distances, so going to a general area and staying there for a while is something I’d usually do. So, as you can probably tell, I absolutely hate guided bus tours.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There are so many people that have helped me along my journey. In particular, I’d like to talk about my art teacher from home, Steven Zhang. He was the first person to believe and fully support my dream of becoming an artist and pursuing a creative career, and went to great lengths to help me achieve my dream of going to an art college.

During my application process to art schools, I needed a lot of practice drawing live models, but the closest life drawing sessions were either too expensive or too far. Steven helped set up a professional studio environment, talked to models, and arranged personal life drawing sessions under his instruction several times a week just so I could improve and have enough material for a portfolio to apply.

Both of my parents are very supportive of me today, but initially they weren’t- and it made sense. As Chinese immigrants, unless you were extremely talented and had all of the right resources to learn, art wasn’t a skill that you could use to reliably support yourself financially. Steven helped explain to them that a strong artist will have always have work as long as people need to express ideas.

Website: https://davidguo.portfoliobox.net/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/david_woah/

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/davidguo101/

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