rylee-sng-interview-filipino-artistRylee Sng works as an Animation Artist at Rezonate (Flux Design Labs). She is a graduate of De La Salle, College of Saint Benilde, where her animated short film, FETCH! won an award in Best in Narrative at the Benilde Animation Festival, and was also a finalist, later on, at the Animahenasyon 2016 awards. Some of her interests include watching animations, playing story-driven games, learning a new language, and taking a walk late at night. If you want to see more of Rylee and her work, check out her Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, or her online portfolio.

Q: Everyone has an origin story. Could you share with us the exact moment (or moments) wherein you realized that you wanted to become an artist?

I started drawing ever since I could remember. I was exposed to a lot of cartoons back then. I would draw the characters that I see on tv or books. Growing up, I became interested over the different techniques that other artists do. And so I would research about them, practice, experiment and then repeat. It was more of a hobby that slowly turned into passion over the years.


Q: From that moment, and throughout your journey as an artist, what has been your biggest struggle?

Overthinking. I tried so hard to think outside the box when the answer was usually just right under my nose. I think way too much that I end up not taking any action. My struggle with this also somehow correlates to my other problem, which is time management.

Back when I was younger, this didn’t trouble me because I simply enjoyed drawing. The more I learned about many things as I grew up, the more indecisive I became.



rylee-sng-interview-filipino-artistQ: How have you been able to cope with (or overcome) this struggle?

Now, I do things step by step. I think of simpler ideas first. Writing and drawing down my thoughts also helps out in seeing the bigger picture. If something didn’t work out, I backtrack and try it another way. I also take in to account what I’d learned in the past years. I go back to the basics whenever I feel stuck.

Before, I tried cramming my ideas in one go, and that usually turns into one big ball of mess. I realized that the way I did things before wasn’t gonna work. I needed to try a different, yet simpler approach. Do things one step at a time. I just needed to be organized with my thoughts and be patient with the whole process. But most importantly, I set a goal on what I wanted to achieve with a certain piece.


Q: What would you consider is the ONE thing that REALLY helped you level up your skills?

Drawing messy hahaha! Back then, I used to try too hard to make my sketches perfect only to end up dissatisfied. I was way too conscious on how I draw things because I didn’t want to feel like I wasted a page of my sketch book. One day, it suddenly dawned on me: wasn’t I just wasting a sketchbook if I don’t draw on it at all? So I stopped trying and let loose the creativity within.

Most of my sketches right now are really messy. Lots of lines, overlapping drawings, and a lot of ugly but also good sketches too. Sometimes, I just draw straight up with a pen. If I didn’t like what I made at first, I examine what’s off about it and redraw it differently. When I see something I like out of all the chaos I created in a page, I would pick that up and clean it up digitally.



Q: What is one thing you’d wish you’d known before you started your artistic career? Why?

I wish I knew more about the business side of art and networking. You can’t survive with just creating art alone.  It’s very important to know how to manage yourself and your connections with clients and other artists.


Q: What drives or inspires you to continue making your art?

When I see a really good animation film, I take in all the elements it could offer me, from the backgrounds to the subtle movements of each character. Same goes for games. When I see great animation, it just instantly puts me in the mood to draw more.


rylee-sng-interview-filipino-artistQ: What does your average day look like? (And when do you fit in the time to create art?)

On a weekday, I would prep and be on my way to work. After office hours, I would stay a little longer at work to either think over the next idea or work on a current piece. I would do this until late hours, sometimes a little past midnight, before going home. I know, it’s a bad habit of mine hahaha.


Q: How do you deal with distractions or challenges that you encounter while you’re working on your art?

I usually don’t do well with distractions, I just submit to it and procrastinate for hours hahaha!  Though, if I really need to focus, I set a deadline or a quota for the week. I also give myself a few minutes with the piece I’m working on to get myself in the zone. But if I really like the current project I’m working on, then distractions shouldn’t be a problem.



Q: What do you do when you feel just completely uninspired or burnt out? How do you motivate yourself to start working again?

I play games, watch movies, hangout with friends or eat something. Just the usual things I like to do in general that’s not related to drawing.

When I do need a break from my work, I just come back to it on the next day. Breaks are important for me to not feel completely burnt out and they also help refresh my eyes when I continue a piece. Though, I prefer not to be away from unfinished work for too long because I might forget my plans for it.


Q: What would you say has been your most EPIC win so far?

I think my most epic moment would have to be back when I was a few weeks from graduating. My grad film FETCH!  won Best in Narrative at the Benilde Animation Festival 2016. It means a lot to me to be recognized especially for that particular category because it served as proof that I made a lot of improvements over the years.


Q: What would you say has been your biggest failure?

I had one moment in my life where I thought of actually giving up my goals of having an art career, and I think that was my biggest failure as an artist. All I can say is that it wasn’t a great year for me that time. I was questioning a lot of things, including how much I would do for my passion.

Despite the moment of doubt, I am somewhat glad I had that experience. Failures are not there to mock you, rather they exist as a learning experience. Besides, when you start at the bottom, there’s no other way but to go up.


rylee-sng-interview-filipino-artistQ: What, for you, has been the best way to promote yourself and your work to potential fans, clients, or publishers?

Posting art in social media. Sometimes, I would draw fan art because it’s easier for people to relate. Joining art projects such as zines is also another way to let yourself out there. Attending conventions is a great way to showcase your art and at the same time meet other awesome artists.


Q: What has been your game plan throughout your journey? What’s the BIG picture here? The ultimate dream? The end game?

A few weeks before graduating, my college prof asked me a similar question. I didn’t have an answer and pretty much struggled with this question. I could say back then that my big goal was to work in big production studios like Disney, Dreamworks, etc. but I wasn’t even sure if that was what I really wanted as my ultimate dream.

After graduation, opportunity came knocking on my door. All I could think of was the fact that I didn’t know what I wanted yet, but I might as well take it and see where this path leads me to. After a year, I realized how much I missed the process of making a story, an animation film. I want to be a big part of a team that would create animation films. Perhaps, an animation director or a storyboard artist.


rylee-sng-interview-filipino-artistQ: What, for you personally, has been the source of your ideas, creativity and talent?

For me, to be honest, ideas can come from anywhere. Whether it’s from films or games, maybe from the view that I saw during a midnight stroll, or a pretty funny pun. It really depends on my mood I guess.


Q: What is your big “WHY”? Why do you feel the need to make art? Who are you doing it for? What’s the hidden reason behind your big dream?

I want to create art that can influence others and that I can be proud of. I want to share my story and inspire many, just as how other artists have inspired me. Art exist to inspire!


Quick-Fire Questions

rylee-sng-interview-filipino-artistQ: What 3 stories (comics, movies, documentaries, novels, etc.) would you say influenced and inspired your work the most?

Akira, Garden of Words, and lastly, Animal Crossing New Leaf. It’s not really a story-driven game, but is it weird to say that it actually helped improve my drawing skills?


Q: What are the top books, art books, blogs, podcasts, or workshops you’d recommend that helped you level up your skills? (Feel free to plug in as many as you’d like)

The Animator’s Survival Kit by Richard Williams, ImagineFX Presents: How to Draw and Paint Anatomy and Movie StoryBoards: The Art of Visualizing Screenplays. For artists who are just starting out, I recommend reading Steal like an Artist by Austin Kleon.



Q: If you could work remotely, from anywhere in the world, where would your office be? Why?

Outer space! But if it has to be somewhere on earth, anywhere that’s cold but dry and has a really nice view of the sky. Hmm, I may have described space.


Q: Name ONE artist/writer that, if you could, you would pick their brain and find out all the hidden secrets behind their amazing work?

Hayao Miyazaki!


Q: Who do you consider your biggest mentor that helped you improve your skills?
(Doesn’t have to be someone you’ve met personally. Can be someone you look up to, or someone whose art has inspired you to get better, over the years.)

There are two professors back in DLS-CSB that set the foundation for me as an animation artist. I couldn’t pick between them ahaha! The first one is my professor for story writing and the other is my professor for post-production. Their personalities are like day and night. However, the both of them taught me one thing: and that is to never lose sight of the goal, the purpose why you created the piece in the first place.


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