We had the good fortune of connecting with Ye Aung and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ye, what’s something about your industry that outsiders are probably unaware of?
A lot of outsiders always tend to think Arts and Animation is not sustainable career. Growing up, I have been told by a lot of people that I should pursue something lucrative like Engineering or Medicine. Many of my relatives, acquaintances, and family members believed that pursuing art would not end well for me in the past. It is not just me who went through discouragement. A lot of my colleagues have similar stories as well. Admittedly, Animation is a very tough field to get into. However, it is a very rewarding career and nothing can replace the feeling of people appreciating your work on the big screen.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My pathway to becoming a professional animator was littered with roadblocks and challenges, especially when I first landed in California as a Burmese immigrant who barely spoke English. High school did not prepare me to survive in the real world, let alone in a whole new country. My naïveté got me into some trouble, including having an identity crisis and getting scammed numerous times. I learned from these experiences and luckily made some friends along the way who understood my situation and taught me more about life and culture. Nothing teaches you better about life than throwing yourself at it, am I right?
As an emerging new artist, I was very lucky to break through into the industry as quickly as I did, to be quite honest. It is very tough for new grads to get jobs in the current US Market Studios demand experienced workers and artists. To make matters more tricky, most studios ship out their tv animation work to studios overseas. Making it even more challenging for American animators to get into the industry. There are much more aspiring artists than there are jobs, making the industry super competitive.
Another scary aspect of the animation industry is most of the jobs are project-based, meaning you will always be looking for a new project after your current one ends, and you will be competing with other experienced animators for every job.
All careers have their fair share of mental challenges, and being an animator is no exception. I have the tendency to belittle my own work. I struggle with the self-imposed idea that I am not doing good enough and constantly compare myself to others. It’s hard to find a proper work/life balance and staying motivated without experiencing some burnout here and there. A personal mental obstacle I am experiencing right now is that my home country of Myanmar is currently in a crisis. I am always stressed, worrying about my family and friends across the sea.
Despite all of this, I try to see things from a positive angle and have confidence that things will turn out okay. I have been going on walks and hikes, exploring places (while following the CDC guidelines) as a therapeutic outlet for myself. I have also been trying out all sorts of new foods! It is very important for everyone to have an outlet for stress relief.
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 someone visit me a while ago. Doesn’t want to sound cliche but Disneyland is always a great place to visit!
In Pasadena, Huntington Library is a place where I would go from time to time just to get some peace of mind with lovely gardens and a nice walk. The art galleries are also amazing to look at and you can see the beauty of the Blue Boy painting up close.
For food, the Grand Central Market in Down Town LA is great as well as the places in Old Town Pasadena!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would like to give a shout-out to Hot House Productions and Six Point Harness studio to give me a jump start in my animation career. Even though we may be working on different productions now, we still run into each other on many different jobs.