Back in January, I sent out a congrats to Robin Blasberg, winner of this year’s Jack Reid author scholarship for our upcoming 25th Annual SCBWI MD/DE/WV 25 and We Still R(ev)ise Conference! Today, I’m sending out another major congrats to Young Vo, this year’s Jack Reid illustrator scholarship winner! To celebrate, here’s another round of Coffee & Conversation … since there can never be enough coffee and conversation. Enjoy!
Young Vo is a traditionally trained animator, having graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the California Institute of the Arts’ (CalArts) Character Animation/Film program in 2003. There he learned how to communicate with moving pictures. After graduating from CalArts, he worked in film for a short time before pursuing an animation career within the video game industry. He started out working for large gaming companies on the west coast but eventually moved to Maryland to pursue an exciting opportunity at an independent studio.
In the past 15 years, he has told many stories through animations, illustrations, sculptures and storyboards but they were never his stories. Now he is starting the journey of telling his own stories which have been developing in his sketchbooks over the years.
What was your favorite book as a child? As a teen? As an adult?
Favorite book as a child –Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein. English was new to me so when my teacher read the words with her unique inflection, I was captured. Then she would turn the book to show the pictures and it was like a magic trick.
Favorite book as a teen -Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, enough said.
Favorite book as an adult -This one is tough because I’m all over the map -historical fiction, graphic novels to children’s books. I don’t know as I have not read it yet.
What is your favorite writing/illustrating how-to book, technique, or website that has helped your craft or provided inspiration?
I am not trying to earn points but SCBWI has been a great source of information and inspiration. “The Illusion of Life” by Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas is one book that I always refer back to in my professional life as an animator.
Tell us about your writing/illustrating journey. When did it begin?
I’m going to give you the short version. As an animator I help others tell their story.
Recently, I’m finding the courage to tell my own stories that have been churning and brewing in my sketchbooks for years.
You’ve been locked in a bank vault Twilight Zone style, so you finally have time to read! Your glasses are fine, (whew,) so what’s the first book you crack open?
After going through all the stages of grieving, I would begin to make furniture with the books. After I’m comfortable and settled, I would crack open Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein.
For one day, time travel is a reality and you have the opportunity to visit any famous deceased author/artist you want. Who do you pick?
I’m going to cheat and say I want to meet the nine old men of Disney because I spent most of my adult life studying their work.
You magically find a $100 bill in your box of cereal. In what frivolous way would you spend it?
After emptying the cereal box to see if there is anything else in there, I would tell my wife and ask what she would want to do. I know a little boring.
What is your favorite quote?
Milt Kahl: “It’s a very difficult medium. Animation requires a pretty good draftsman because you’ve got to turn things, to be able to draw well enough to turn things at every angle. You have to understand movement, which in itself is quite a study. You have to be an actor. You have to put on a performance, to be a showman, to be able to evaluate how good the entertainment is. You have to know the best way of doing it, and have an appreciation of where it belongs in the picture. You have to be a pretty good story man. To be a really good animation, then, you have to be a jack-of-all-trades. I don’t mean to say that I’m all these things, but I try. I got accused over the years of being a fine draftsman. Actually I don’t really draw that well. It’s just I don’t stop trying as quickly. I keep at it. I happen to have high standards and try to meet them. I have to struggle like hell to make a drawing look good.”
What do you enjoy doing when not writing?
Hanging out with my wife and dogs. Drawing, painting, tennis and playing video games.
Awesome, thanks so much, Young! (And I did Google Nine Old Men. As a Disney lover, I can’t believe I haven’t heard about them yet!) Again, congratulations and have a great conference!