We had the good fortune of connecting with Richard Chen and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Richard, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
I’ve always been a workaholic. When I was starting out, I thought working longer hours, doing the OT and taking on extra projects allowed me to prove that I belonged. As my career progressed and the responsibilities that came with it increased, I worked even harder to make sure it wasn’t by mistake that I was put in these positions. If it meant that I can push the quality of something but it meant putting in more time- I would do it. Looking back now, it was probably not the healthiest attitude, and it took me a while to realize that.
I recently became a father for the first time, and I think that really put things into perspective for me. I realized that work is always going to be there, but the time missed being away from my family is something that I can never get back. Working from home offered me the unique and special privilege to be there with my son and wife everyday. It allowed me to watch him grow up in ways that I never could if I was working in the studio. I got to hear his first laugh, see him eat his first solid foods, watch him crawl and take his first steps, and most importantly- hear him call me “DaDa” for the first time. These are moments that made me reevaluate what is important to me, allowing me to detach from work when I need to, and to set the appropriate boundaries so my work doesn’t interfere with my family life. I still put in my full efforts while I’m at work, but I’m trying to draw a clearer line that isn’t as blurred as it was before. It’s still a work in progress, but I like to think I’m headed in the right direction.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’ve been Art Directing for many years, and what I find most exciting about my job is that everyday is different. Everyday there are new problems to solve, new projects to discuss, new styles to develop, new stories to be heard and new people to work with. Nothing can be worse than to keep doing the same thing day in and day out, where’s the fun in that? In animation, the possibilities are endless, if we can dream it up, we can make it happen.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I’m a sports fanatic, so depending on the time of year you’re visiting Toronto, I’d recommend checking out a Raptors, Maple leafs or a Blue jays game. Toronto is also a super multicultural city so definitely check out all the neighborhoods; Chinatown, Greektown, Little Italy, Kensignton Market, the Beaches, The Junction…etc. Each spot offers it’s own unique vibes so there’s definitely a lot to explore.
We also have a beautiful waterfront and beaches in the east end for those who prefer a more chill atmosphere. Toronto is also a great walking city, I personally find it the best way to see the city, but if you get tired, hop onto a streetcar, subway or bus to take you to your next destination. It’s super convenient.
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?
I’d like to shoutout my wife Marissa. She’s the most understanding and generous person I know, and have been with me through the ups and downs; seeing me through my best moments and not so great moments- she’s my rock. She’s also the most loving mother to our son, Felix. We’d be lost without her. We Love you so much!