We had the good fortune of connecting with Liza Singer and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Liza, why did you pursue a creative career?
Since as far back as I can remember, I always immersed myself in stories. It was my way to cope, a way to escape from a childhood sometimes filled with less than happy memories. Reading and telling stories became a way for me to feel empowered in a situation I ultimately was not. It sparked a great passion, something I felt compelled to do, something I did wherever I went, creating and building characters and words whether I was sitting in an old antique store or doodling on my notebooks in the middle of a history class.
Telling stories continues to be very important to me, and continues to be the way I reflect on the world while also reaching out to both peers and kids and give them worlds to escape to and encourage them to keep fighting for themselves and a better future.
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.
Since I was little I knew I wanted to pursue a career in animation, but it ultimately seemed like a far more unrealistic goal as I got older. My parents felt there was little opportunity for stability and job security in the arts and with my academic background, didn’t want me to pursue something so idealistic as ‘just being an artist’, feeling I’d just end up a starving one. Instead they wanted me to get a career in STEM, specifically programming and work for a place like Google or Microsoft where they felt I would have far more job security. Regardless of how much love for animation, all the signs in the late 2000s pointed to 2D animation being dead so I didn’t have much of a fight I could put up at the time. But then Adventure Time happened, and then Steven Universe… and more and more there seemed to be a renaissance of 2D animation for the first time in ages and I became enamored. Meanwhile I was stuck studying things I had no passion for, going after jobs that were fine, stable, but nothing I really had a heart in. No matter what I did, the siren song of animation was just too strong, leaving me sad and unfulfilled. I knew if I wanted it, I’d have to move out to California which was a big “no way” on my parents’ end. In order to make it happen, I worked and saved up as much as I could until I could move out to LA on my own, saving up as much as I could from every paycheck from the work I had taken up until that point. When I got out to LA, I didn’t know anyone, didn’t have any connections, but through taking classes and working hard on a portfolio, within my first year I managed to find work on Disenchantment at Rough Draft Studios who took a chance on an unknown like me. There I met so many great mentors who helped push me farther, and I began to excel in a field I knew was where my heart was, and turns out it really was the home I had always been looking for, a career I felt I fight snuggly into perfectly. From Harley Quinn, to Pantheon to High in the Clouds I’ve been taking on more and more projects that I love. Now having found that I have come into my own as a Director, I am balancing my love for the day work, the collaborative process with many other artists, with working on my own original pieces of fiction, including developing several Graphic Novels with a publisher, Show Pitching/Development and beyond – something prior which only felt like a dream while I was simply just chasing stability. It’s been a long road, but one I fight every day to make sure has been worth the journey.
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 wish I could say I get out more but I don’t (especially after this year)! I sadly mostly focus on work life and when I do socialize it is mostly very personal with a small group of friends gathered together. In truth, if I do manage to get away, I love getting far away, heading to Joshua Tree or up to the Redwood, or heading down to Laguna for some of the more quiet beaches and hiking trails. Sometimes I like to take a friend or family to the Botanical Gardens if the weather is good and I want to stay local. My partner is a really mean chef so we generally eat plenty at home, but for lunch there are some really great eateries even locally that are my favorite Burbank/Glendale spots like Mambo’s Cafe, 85C Bakery, Coffee Commissary, Pho Hot, Carving Board. If I’m really craving something I’ll head to Little Tokyo for a bunch of things, especially Chinchikurin for some good Okonomiyaki.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My partner Joe is one of the most amazing partners I could truly ask for. As I pursued my dream of a career in animation, he followed, and continues to be an incredible support both of my professional ambitions but also the perfect person to share life with. I really couldn’t have asked for someone more kind, giving and generous and I’m really in awe of him every day.
My mother has always been an incredible support in my life. An immigrant born at the end of the Holocaust, she and my grandparents came over to the US as refugees, where my mother worked incredibly hard to support her family, by learning english and teaching them in return. She ended up becoming the first college graduate in her family and continued to instill an incredibly strong work ethic and heart, encouraging me to be open, kind and fight injustice in the world.