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

Hi Jane, do you have some perspective or insight you can share with us on the question of when someone should give up versus when they should keep going?
This is a hard one! There have been so many times where I just want to give up and quit art altogether. Times like these, I love revisiting old art and remembering the joy and passion I felt when I was creating them. It helps to clear my head and refocus. Having a good support group is also SO important. I am so lucky to have an amazing group of friends and an amazing partner that cheer me on. It always helps to have someone else believe in you, especially when you don’t believe in yourself.

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.
Design and illustration are my twin passions. In an ideal world I would be able to freelance on character designs as well as book illustrations. I love making bright, fun, colourful work that tells a story. To be able to take one look at a piece or character, and immediately know and feel what kind of a story it is. I love it when people tell me the reactions and feelings that they get from looking at my art, because that’s what it’s all about for me.

It definitely wasn’t easy to get to this point. Coming from a traditional chinese family, there was a huge amount of resistance towards me pursuing art. At some point, after failing my 50th maths exam, I think my parents realised that I am never going to excel in the sciences nor be happy doing. With their blessing, I moved to LA to attend Art Center College of Design.

I worked so hard in school and got good grades. But what they seldom tell you is that doing well in school means absolutely nothing in the real world. In trying to please the teachers, I lost my way and couldn’t tell what I enjoyed and didn’t enjoy anymore. It wasn’t until after graduation, when I had time and no one to please, did I find my passion and realign my goals again.

Trying to find jobs as an international student is hard. I knew that early on, and so I put all my effort into trying to build up a freelance career. Any freelancer would tell you that getting freelance jobs depend heavily on connections, which is kind of a bummer since I graduated in the midst of COVID. I take any job that is needed, including tedious tasks of arranging information on in an illustrator files. But these jobs eventually turned into design jobs. Eventually, I landed my first character design freelance in a big animation company, and I was so happy I couldn’t stop shaking.

TLDR; Don’t give up. Keep going in any way possible, and make friends with everybody. You’ll get there eventually.

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 actually had a few friends visit me from home! I loved bringing them to the Grand Central Market! Not only are the food amazing, there are so many interesting spots to hit from there as well, like the Bradley Building, and that gigantic Blue Bottle coffee shop!

Disneyland and Universal Studious are a must, of course. Sometimes just to sit and people watch. There are so many interesting people at Disneyland!

Santa Monica is also a favourite, walking along the pier and breathing in the fresh sea air. From there, driving along PCH and ending up at one of the small beaches along along the road to watch the sunset, followed by a delicious seafood dinner after.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
First shoutout is to my partner, Nick Laub. Not only is he an amazing designer, he is also the most patient and supportive partner one can ask for. He puts up with all my mood swings (esp the grump ones!), lifts me up when I feel like all I can do is sink lower, and takes such good care of me when the world just feels too overwhelming to exist.

Second shoutout is to my parents. They were hesitant towards me pursuing art in the beginning, but warmed up eventually, and have been so supportive in trying to give me the best opportunities to chase my dreams.

Website: https://www.janeshi.studio

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Janershee

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