A New Chapter

It’s been terribly long since I had a proper update here, and I think it’s finally time to get down to that.

A lot of things have happened while I was MIA. First of all, after 3 and a half years, I finally graduated from LAAFA! I’m all done with it now, probably done with full-time schooling for the rest of my life. Needless to say, it’s a very big moment for me. Since LAAFA is still currently going through the process of accreditation while I write this, my certificate actually says “Non-Degree Certificate” on it, which I think is hilarious. My official grad show was on May 11, and here are some pictures of how it went down:

The show was LAAFA’s last event at Bergamot Station, which we were vacating due to construction that would begin in summer. So they chose to use our grad show as a last final event. Not many new people actually showed up to it, but it was a great time to meet all my teachers and other students in one place. It was also the only time my portfolio would exist in tangible form — although the school has now put these prints up in a corner of the school back in Van Nuys, which I haven’t actually visited since I graduated.

Of course, talking about my grad show also means naturally, that I must talk about my portfolio. :)

Here was my portfolio planning board, on which I worked with Peter Han to try and figure out what projects I wanted to include. I had so many different and diverse pieces and projects floating around when we actually sat down to do this (around fall of 2012), and it was just super confusing. Some teachers said, make a portfolio as diverse as you can. Some others said, make a portfolio that was specialized. I also had to think about the specific industry I wanted to end up in, because a portfolio for animation, video games, and movies can be quite different.

My portfolio has been through so many iterations; I started planning out my portfolio since around early 2012, and from that time until May 2013 I had constantly been revising it, going over what pieces and projects to include, what to take out, what to focus on. I had help from a wide variety of instructors and teachers and professionals, but sometimes it seemed as if everyone had a different opinion. Just when I thought I was done with it, I would decide to change something entirely, and it just went on forever. I had also even planned to have my portfolio ready by January 2013, so I would have a large space of time in which to job-hunt, but it didn’t turn out that way at all. In fact, the bulk of my work was completed between January and May 2013.

Finally, around the end of 2012, around December or so, I made up my mind to focus on a specific project that would represent the best of my work. The key reason for doing this was that I felt that if I spread myself too thin, I might compromise on quality, which I absolutely did not want. Therefore, the Shadowsworn project was the result of this decision. I spent months on it, under the mentorship of two teachers, who I worked with closely each week to make sure each piece was as pushed as it could be.

Portfolio Cover

Clicking on the image above will take you to my website, where you can view the full portfolio.

A couple words on Shadowsworn — I had always been fascinated with Rudyard Kipling’s work, and I absolutely dislike the Disney version of the Jungle Book. I felt that with Mr. Kipling’s vast imagination there should be something more to it, and while the Disney version had spectacular animation, a lot of design choices in the film never really sit well with me. I remember the mystical feeling from his Just So Stories as well, and with that in mind, I decided to tackle my own (eventually fantastical) version of the Jungle Book. I rewrote the script to include twisted and corrupted shadowbeasts, which I called the Empty, and to include a race of Ancients who had disappeared for millenia while the jungle’s inhabitants were transformed from their magic into half human, half beast hybrids. Mowgli is the only character in this revised script that is purely human, and the reason why has to do with the fact that (spoiler!) he was the Lord of the Ancients’ (Nag’sla)’s hope at reviving himself, after the rest of the Ancients rebelled against him and sealed him underground, in the process also destroying themselves. It’s a pretty complex script, but I love writing and plots, so I went all out on this.

I had a tremendous and intense amount of mentorship on this project which spanned almost a year to really flesh out and develop in a direction I wanted, and I do not think in any other school I would have received the same amount of attention as I did here. So there’s my LAAFA plug, because I honestly owe so much to the school at being able to realize this.

I remember when I finally put the finishing touches on all the pages, and uploaded it to my new website, there was an enormous sense of “I can’t believe I finally am done with this”. Because it really felt like I’d been working on this for ages. The end result of my website was completely different than how I’d imagined it to be. I’m alright with that, just because I really love the direction I ultimately took.

With that said, this is a big moment for this blog too. Over 3 years ago, when I started it, I had the intention of using it to chronicle my journey through LAAFA, just to see if the school really was able to live up to the expectations I had for it. I think this blog has managed to be a valuable record of that journey for myself, and hopefully for all who read it. However, I also never intended it to be anything more than that, and to that end, I am planning on moving to a different blog and to leave this one here as a repository for education. I will still keep it up, but I’d like this blog to be more of a Q&A, rambling, writing about art sort of thing, while my actual artworks will be posted elsewhere (which I will announce once it’s up). I’d love to answer whatever questions any of you have for me here.

Since I talked so much about my portfolio, I’d like to mention my classmate and friend Ben Smith. This was his graduating portfolio:


I’d like to say that since our classes are so small, you really do spend a lot of time with the same people. My class started with 4 people in January 2010, and finished with 3, but Ben and myself were the two members of the class who stayed throughout all 3 years. So I’m pretty darn proud of his work too since we both worked pretty much at the same time and pushed each other a lot. He’s currently working on a whole bunch of really awesome projects.

As for my own future, I’ve been looking for a job, of course. I’ve also been continuing to freelance on some mobile games offsite while waiting on a more full-time position. I’ll be continuing to update you guys on whatever happens on that front. It’s an exciting time for me, as I am also revamping my online identity in various places. You can now find me as the username Cadaure in most art communities, on deviantArt, CGHub, Conceptart.org.


2 thoughts on “A New Chapter

  1. Hi Maisie! Congratulations! You finally graduated from LAAFA after 6 years! LOL, at least it felt like it. :-D I really like the textural feel of that piece titled The Jungle. Can’t believe your class only has 4 people to start with and even got lesser and lesser! :-)

    Anyway, I’ll start following you on Cghub (user name is Cadaure?). Hope to still see more of your figure drawings in future!

    And….hope you find a full time job soon! ;-)

    • Hi Qi Xiang! I was actually at LAAFA for 3 years, but it does feel like 6 XD I can’t really remember my life before it. Haha!

      Anyway, my username on cghub has changed to maisieyang.cghub.com just cause it was far easier for people to remember. It is still Cadaure on deviantArt and CA.org though.

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