2019 Post-Mortem


Highlights:
  • Took my second improv class at UCB
  • Saw Aly and AJ live (my middle school self would be so proud)
  • Enjoyed making mistakes in Kyoto
  • Went to a LGBT wrestling show
  • Did the Panimation takeover
  • Appeared in a podcast about Bong Joon-Ho
  • Studio Ghibli museum and teamLab Borderless!
  • Made a dumb tweet which led to School of Motion reaching out and giving me a free course

If 2018 was a whimper then 2019 was a bang. It was easily the busiest but also best year I’ve had both personally and professionally. It was such a whirlwind of many factors that it felt like two years crammed in one. 

In January and February, I worked for a small studio in Downtown LA. In March, I had the unique opportunity of working on a series of social media promotional graphics for an indie folk band with my friend Andrew. Andrew had gotten the gig but reached out to me to see if I was able to work with him on it as he knew it was too much for one person to handle. It was entirely remote but also had a quick turnaround. We had to create a series of posts from scratch (including storyboards, styleframes, animations, etc) in a one week span. Oh, and Andrew was going to Utah for the weekend for a ski trip. During that one week span, we worked feverishly in my apartment where we basically got cabin fever and started to go a little insane. I even lost my temper on one or two occasions due to failed renders. However, the client ended up liking the results so hey. 

I accomplished a childhood dream of mine by going to Japan in April, just in time for cherry blossom season! One of the main reasons I became a freelancer was that I could have the flexibility to travel more. I’m pleased to say I took full advantage of it this year. Throughout 2019 I went to Austin, Texas; New York City; San Francisco and of course Japan, China (x2), Taiwan, Hong Kong and Canada. (Oh also an abandoned ghost village three hours north of LA). 

When I came back from Japan and China, Andrew once again got me another gig but this time for Snapchat! I got to work at their Santa Monica office which was pretty cool. 

June was by far my busiest month yet. I was triple to quintupled booked for most of the month which was sheer insanity. I was still in the stage of freelancing where I said yes to every single gig for fear that there wouldn’t be another one. June was my most financially successful month. However, the toll it took on my mental health was not worth it. I was completely burnt out.

It should also be noted that I had been getting a lot more remote work which had been one my goals going into 2019. However, I didn’t foresee the challenges that remote work would bring. The main reason would be that I was working from my apartment a lot since I have my custom PC which is more powerful than my laptop. This meant that there would be days where I wouldn’t leave my apartment at all. Even though I’m an introvert, I do need some socialization or else I go crazy (lol). I had entertained the possibility one day becoming a digital nomad but I think the challenges would far outweigh the positives since at the end of the day, even though you’re in a foreign place, you do need a place to work during business hours and a stable internet connection. I’d rather work, save up money, travel without working and come back. I wouldn’t mind moving to a foreign country for a while though! (Sponsor me European or Asian companies plz).

I went to New York at the end of July and I took a week to get a breather and figure out my priorities for the second half of the year. I was a bit burnt out on taking mass quantities of smaller gigs so I wanted to find a stable permalance job that would last for a few months.

My wish came true in August. I started working for NBC at their Universal office in the digital department. I was the first Motion Designer they had hired so I was given a lot of flexibility for what I could do which was both exciting and a little intimidating.

NBC was a really positive experience! My supervisor was really lovely and understanding. She would always check in to make sure I wasn’t overwhelmed with work and always told me how much she appreciated the work I was doing. The hours were steady and I only had to work overtime once in the three and a half months I was there. It was definitely one of the best work environments I have been in.

In September, I was lucky enough to get tickets for Blend so I traveled to Vancouver for a few days! Blend was a complete whirlwind and exhausting but also really fun. It was amazing being able to meet people from all over the world and to meet people I had only talked to on the internet (special shout out to my Blend roommate Andrea). The actual conference itself was only for two days but Giant Ant had a social mixer the day before Blend at their studio. There were plenty of after parties after each day of conferences. I was also lucky to still be in Vancouver the day Ordinary Folk had announced a spontaneous lunch.

Aside from the social aspect (which was excellent), Blend was an amazing conference. I really enjoyed the presenters that talked and I also appreciated that Blend had a diverse lineup of speakers. I know it’s already been said a million times but I absolutely loved Handel Eugene’s talk. I’d definitely recommend reading his blog post about his presentation. The other presenters were also great! It made me so inspired to work on my own projects (though… no time… RIP).

Vancouver was also an awesome city to visit. The scenery was so beautiful and the people there were really friendly. I definitely recommend going to Blend the next time it happens (though good luck getting a ticket).

After Blend, I returned to NBC and worked for them until mid-November when I left for my second East Asia trip of the year. And oh yeah, I had been hired by Elizabeth Warren’s campaign at the beginning of November. Yeah, that’s a thing that happened.

I had seen a job listing for the campaign on School of Motion’s job board back in July and found it interesting so I applied, not really expecting to hear back. Well, I did hear back in August where I had a few phone calls with members of the campaign, including the creative director. The phone calls went well so I was optimistic about my hiring chances. Then… cue complete silence. Cut to the end of October where I got an email from a member of the campaign asking if I was still interested in the position? Yes. The rest is history. I started working for them remotely after I returned from Taiwan. I’ll be moving to Boston at the beginning of January to work at the campaign headquarters.

I describe myself a political person and I take an active interest in politics. For a while, I had been wondering how I could use my motion graphics skills to make a change. Don’t get me wrong- I love doing entertainment and tech based graphics but they don’t really make much of a change in people’s lives. I actually reached out to a staff member in Elizabeth Warren’s campaign back in June asking if they needed any volunteers for graphics. Things turned out much better than planned!

Looking back at 2019, I’m really happy with how the year turned out. I made a ton of new friends at meet ups like Blend or R&D. I got to work on all sorts of interesting projects. I also got more comfortable turning down work when I felt too overwhelmed with projects and taking breaks. 

Looking ahead to 2020, I don’t really know what to expect! I hope to hone my skills more (time to learn Blender once and for all), dedicate time to making a short film (it will happen one day, I swear!!!), learn Korean and hopefully make a positive impact with my graphics.