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

Hi Vicky, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
Art has always been my biggest hobby since I was really young. I was privileged to be born into a family with a moderate income and to parents who supported my creative development. However, this hobby remained a hobby for a long time because I could not see where it could take me.

It was not until when I turned twenty that I realized there was no other field that I wanted to work in besides art. Then it took another three years for me to see the beauty of visual storytelling and my own potential in this specific field. I chose the genre of animation, specifically 2D animation because of its versatility. It allows me to utilize my knowledge and skills from other forms of fine art because there is no limitation on what you can animate or how you animate them. Anything could be animated pretty much anywhere, as long as you have a camera to take photos of the frames. It is such a free genre that it redefines and challenges traditional storytelling. I want to keep making my own independent animated shorts because audiences are less subjective when they watch an animated film. I would like to have my voice heard, as well as the voices of some of the underrepresented groups that I am part of.

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.
If I were to describe my current style, it would be 2D frame-by-frame animation with a mixed-media approach. I enjoy experimenting with different techniques and mediums and combining them digitally. The process is similar to Monoprint; full of surprises and sometimes happy accidents.

Despite watching a lot of animated shows and movies while growing up, it was not until after I studied traditional animation that I started to realize and appreciate the immense amount of effort that goes into creating an animated piece. Even though I have studied this genre for many years, it still took me quite a while to understand the beauty and versatility of this medium.

When I first attended Ottawa International Animation Festival in 2018, I was blown away by the many different possibilities in this genre. That was when I first understood the terms “experimental animation” and “non-linear storytelling.” I started to explore different ways of making animation and combined my printmaking work with digitally animated 2D characters. The process was fun, but the shorts I made turned out to be rather amateurish; I lacked skills in storytelling and editing. I decided to further my education at USC.

I am very grateful to have met so many amazing mentors at USC who helped me find my artistic eye and filmmaking instincts. I found my passion in under-the-camera animation, and I really enjoyed working with techniques such as animating paper cutouts, painting on glass, etc. I also got more comfortable with traditional animation after learning all the animation principles from Eric Goldberg, an amazing Disney animator and director.

During my second semester at USC, the pandemic hit and took away my access to campus. I switched to digital animation entirely, both 2D and 3D. All the skills I learned eventually come in handy in my other projects. I was also able to attend many animation festivals online and get inspired by animated shorts from all around the world. I also wrote a handful of scripts for animated shorts and improved my skills in storytelling. It was not an easy year but I was able to return home and spend time with my family, who eventually became inspirations and subjects for my thesis project.

I have only just graduated and my career is barely starting. But I have a positive mindset that I will earn more recognition in the future. I do think that I have a unique voice, and I cannot wait to express it through my future films.

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?
Los Angeles definitely has some of the best museums across the country. The Getty Villa has beautiful landscapes and an amazing collection of artworks. LACMA and The Academy Museum are also worth a visit, and they usually have different traveling exhibitions on display. The Broad in downtown LA is a free museum featuring modern contemporary art. The Museum of Contemporary Art in LA has a number of locations and they usually have an interesting curation of different genres of art.

I don’t even know where to start with the food here- there are so many to choose from! If I am craving authentic Chinese food, the cities east of LA (Alhambra, San Gabriel, Monterey Park) are definitely the places to check out. Bring a Chinese friend with you if you are overwhelmed by the selections and they will make the ordering process easier for you too.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I have had a number of mentors throughout the years, and they all taught me important art lessons and life lessons. The three years I spent getting my master’s degree in Animation at USC were extremely helpful in my personal growth because of the mentors I met at this university. I am very grateful that I had the opportunity to be mentored by Christine Panushka and Sheila Sofian on my thesis film. They have both been in the education industry for many years, and they have helped me grow tremendously during this past thesis year.

My family, especially my parents, have supported my art practices from the very beginning, despite not working in the artistic field themselves. They have allowed me to explore my own path and let myself make all my life choices, which is a relatively rare trait for traditional Chinese parents. I really appreciate their love and support.

My friends and cohort at USC have also contributed to my artistic development. I am grateful to have formed close bonds with a few of them. We support each other during difficult times and our mutual encouragement helped all of us to become better artists and better people.

Website: https://www.xingyugu.com/

Image Credits
Vicky Xingyu Gu, USC School of Cinematic Arts, Los Angeles Animation Festival

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