Creative Spotlight | Lester Chan
Published on 14 December 2020
Tell us a bit about who you are and what kind of creative work you make
I’m a 25-year-old animator, specializing in 2D cel animation (where you make an animation frame by frame and use hand drawing) but dabbling in all sorts of other stuff. My personal practice is all over the place, but often it is informed by pretty uncontroversial and not-very-subtle political opinions! Recently I’ve been getting more into creating music, but it’s usually in service of the animating.
I’m currently freelancing, animating mainly on ads and music videos. I’ve also occasionally been given opportunities to direct idents (the footage with a station’s identification or logo) for companies like MTV and FX.
Are there any special processes, techniques or tools you use to make your creative
As a 2D digital animator I was taught to use drawing tablets for most of my work. I’m currently running a 16-inch Cintiq tablet.-The technique that I’ve found works best with this tablet is to work with my face really, really close, though it does come at the expense of your eyesight and posture!
Though most of my work is on the computer, I’m finding more and more that I enjoy blending it with analogue techniques. I’ve started colouring in my frames on paper, rather than digitally, which adds a lot more texture once the animation is put together. This process also gives me a menial activity to do while I listen to podcasts. I’m not great at colouring within the lines, but I find that having the pictures in motion does a great job of hiding mistakes!
What’s the most challenging part of working as an artist / creative?
Recently, the challenge has been finding the focus and motivation to start personal work. Getting an initial idea is usually the easier part for me, but then committing to fleshing out a concept and story can be really challenging. There’s a lot of tunnel vision that I’m not conscious of when I’m set on a certain story element (and it’s usually not as brilliant as I think it is). This block can really hinder experimentation and obscure other paths of creative iteration.
This is especially true if I’m trying to make something funny, but I’m way too precious about keeping the first punchline that I come up with. I end up missing narrative opportunities, or I overcomplicate the story beats to accommodate a single joke. Feedback from friends end up being essential to working through these kinks, though I definitely don’t follow their advice as much as I really should!
Do you have any rituals or routines that help you to be more creative?
Eating breakfast before working and staying well hydrated definitely helps, especially when you’re going to be animating for a long stretch. It’s definitely advice I need to take more often, especially the brekkie bit. I go bouldering for exercise, so I also find myself doing a lot more finger exercises to keep them nimble and stop them from getting injured, which probably wouldn’t be great for drawing.
Personally, I don’t animate as well with music on. To keep from being bored, I usually listen to longform podcasts. The only time I can’t do that is if I’m animating lip-sync, in which case it interferes too much with the work. I’ve been finding recently that I can’t listen to too many news podcasts, because it can drag me down and affect the work.
Where can we find out more about your work and get in touch?
You can find me @lstrchn on instagram!