We had the good fortune of connecting with Young-Ji Cha and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Young-Ji, why did you pursue a creative career?
Pursuing a creative career was a pretty easy choice for me since art class was only place I felt comfortable and excited to be in during school. I figured I’ll just follow the path that I was most comfortable with even though I was not a very creative person. This push me to work harder since there wasn’t any other profession I saw myself to be in the 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.
My career is technically divided into two parts, but both utilize all the skills I learned from school. The first half of me works in the animation industry as a visual development artist and the second half as a gallery painter. Working in animation is quite different since it requires a team effort and there are stricter guidelines, versus working on my own personal projects for galleries where I have more freedom to express my own voice. I started my career in animation as a background painter and as exciting as it was for me, I still craved to work on my own personal projects. Which led me to go back to traditional painting on my own. I started sharing some of my art online and Thinkspace Gallery gave me a chance to showcase my work which has led to other projects.

I got to where I am in my career because of my decision in college to switch from being a traditional fine art painting major to a Visual Development major. This resulted in me staying in school longer than most of my classmates and also costing a lot more tuition. But everything is working out now since I am able to work in both fields.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Whenever my friends and family visit me we always visit Koreatown for amazing Korean food. There are just too many great restaurants in K-Town but some of my favorite summer food spots are YuChun restaurant where you can get delicious cold noodles called Naeng Myun and BBQ Rib. After the meal, I recommend stopping by at Sul & Bean for Korean style shaved ice as well!

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I don’t think I’ll be where I am right now if it wasn’t for my internship mentor Mike Dutton. Mike was the first person who noticed my work during my college graduation exhibition and gave me an opportunity to intern at Tonko House Studios in Berkeley. It was the first time I was recognized and awarded with my work and I will never forget that moment. Through the internship, I met so many amazing artists and learned how to design and paint through absorbing their thought processes. One of the most important things I feel like I took away from the internship was the importance of teamwork. I try my best to carry on what I learned from them in my current position and will continue in the future.

Website: www.chayoungji.com

Instagram: @chayoungji

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