What a Pixar designer and artist does in a day’s work

Site: San Francisco Bay Area

Job title: Character designer, artist at Pixar Animation Studios

Previous jobs: Character Designer at Tencent Timi

Which led me to my current position: I started drawing when I was 3 — and I drew on my parents’ beautiful white walls at home. They didn’t blame me, so I kept drawing. My father is a writer, so we also had a lot of books at home. I loved reading classics like “Pride and Prejudice”, “Jane Eyre” and “Frankenstein”, and when I was moved by the stories, I created illustrations. So I’ve always linked drawing to stories.

Working for the animation industry is the perfect way to combine my love for art and history. Not to mention my passion for fashion — for a short time I considered being a fashion designer. But after learning that I’m not very good at sewing, I used drawing to express my love of beautiful clothes and dresses. So being a character designer is really a great way to combine my passions.

How I spend most of my working day: My day is devoted to drawing and artistic creation. Working from home doesn’t affect me that much as a digital artist; I draw at home and attend many Zoom meetings. I am quite comfortable working from home as I enjoy a quiet and private work environment with my two hairless cats, Princess and Lady. I often work very, very late, sometimes until midnight.

9am: I’m not a morning person. If I have a meeting at 9:30 like I do today, I get up just half an hour before to get ready and have breakfast. This is the advantage of the FMH.

9.30am-10am: I have a meeting with people from the technical department. At this meeting, we typically review 3D models and discuss issues, such as how to transfer 2D designs into 3D models.

10 a.m.: I check my email and my social media accounts, including Twitter and Instagram.

11:30 a.m.: I meet our artistic team. Each film has its own artistic team and we design the film’s appearance, characters, sets, lighting, etc. — essentially all the visual elements of the animated film. We are a small team, with around 12 people, and we are all very close. This Art Team meeting is for us to talk about our mission, our timeline, and if we have any updates. If anyone has any questions about our mission, now is a good time to ask them.

Midday: Zoom lunch with my colleagues in the art department. We have this lunch every Friday. It’s a good chance to bond during the pandemic and have some random, fun conversations. I love these lunches, even though I can’t make them every week.

1:15 p.m.: Another meeting to talk about a project for our film. In an animated feature, there are so many characters to design. Sometimes a certain character or group of characters might need a little more attention, so we’ll put together a small team that will only focus on developing that type of character. During this meeting, we talk about the problems we encounter when creating a particular character.

1:45 p.m.: My office time. Without an appointment, I can finally work on my mission now.

2:30 p.m.: We have an art review this week. This is usually the most important meeting of the week for us. We create a presentation, show our creations to the director and get notes from the “boss”.

4 p.m.: A post-art review meeting with the art team. We usually talk about what we learned from the review and what our next steps will be. We also talk about the fun plans we have for the weekend!

7pm-midnight: After dinner, I rest, play video games and watch Netflix with my boyfriend. I continue to draw, but it’s on my free time. Besides my studio work, I also make TikTok drawing videos just for fun, and I also have an interest in turning my art into different products, so I’m trying to start a small business at night. I always find myself more productive at night, so I work until bedtime.

It may sound stressful, but that’s not how I feel — I really enjoy my day-to-day!