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Maisie Yang – LAAFA Graduate Interview

Maisie Yang graduated in 2013 from our Entertainment Art Program.  She is currently working as a concept artist for Riot Games located in Santa Monica.

1.  What has it been like since graduating from LAAFA?

I’ve been extremely busy and it has honestly been an emotional roller-coaster. The transition from being a student to working full-time is a big life change. I was already working hard before graduation, so it was more of a time schedule change that I had to adjust to. I was used to classes on weekends and nights for two years, so it was a big change that I had to get used to waking up at a ‘normal’ time every day.

2.  Why did you select LAAFA to study?

I chose to study at LAAFA because I wanted to fill in the gaps of my artistic education. Before coming here, I would make art without truly understanding what I was doing and it was personally not enough for me. I felt LAAFA would provide me with the understanding that I needed. I was also impressed with the faculty when I did my research on the school.


3. Describe how your Foundational courses have contributed to your career?

The foundational courses lived up to their name — they gave me a foundation with which I could expand on. Learning how to see and draw and the very basics of art is crucial before you can move on to other artistic pursuits. It’s a process of training your visual memory, muscle memory, and also learning to be disciplined and measured.

4 . Describe how your design courses have contributed to your career?

The entertainment courses introduced me to several processes for ideation and creating original work. I believe creativity is something that can be trained and invoked rather than a mysterious force we can’t understand. Having a process doesn’t hamper creativity, it lets me produce ideas on a more consistent basis, which is crucial for professional success.


5. How did you personally evolve during your time at LAAFA?

I came to Laafa wanting to learn, and I wasn’t disappointed. The most significant change for me was when I understood that I did in fact have control over what I chose to make. It was a very empowering feeling that I had the abilities and tools to do what I wished to do and it gave me a lot of courage to shoot for large portfolio projects.

6. Do you feel you received a valuable artistic education at LAAFA?  Why?

Yes; it was a well-rounded education that was rigorous and basically made me work with a professional mindset long before graduation.


7. Describe your most rewarding college experience.

Other than putting together the final touches on my portfolio website and book (which was an incredible feeling), I would have to say it was when I finally began to understand color theory. I had struggled with it for so long and tried really hard to grasp the subject, but it was difficult for me. Then one day a light came on in my head. It felt extremely liberating.

8.  How would one of your instructors describe you?

Persevering, determined.

9.  How did you finance your education?

I was lucky enough to have my parents be able to afford financing my education.


10. Why do you think Riot Games hired you over other candidates?

Being able to tell stories visually and solve problems. A concept artist’s job is not just to draw pretty pictures but to iterate and solve difficult questions.

11. As an alumni, what is your advice to the current students who want to work in the gaming industry?

Each of us has stories we’ve always wanted to tell. A graduation portfolio is a great place to finally let some of those stories out. If you can channel your enthusiasm for it into your work, it will resonate with art directors and other artists.