DUBAI: Greg Chen, better known as Porkky, is a Taiwanese American 2D animator who made a name for himself in the Japanese animation world as he worked on popular projects, such as, Spy x Family, Cyberpunk, Boruto: Naruto Next Generations.
His inspiration for Japanese anime and manga comes from a Western background. Growing up in America, he was introduced to anime through platforms like Adult Swim and other channels that aired dubbed animation series. His top three anime series are Space Dandy, Shirobako and Little Witch Academia.
“My biggest inspiration for animation in general probably comes from the days I used to watch Cartoon Network! One of my favorite animators, Yoh Yoshinari, is a big fan of this era of cartoons as well,” he said.
Porkky, originally, wanted to be a game designer but quickly realized that it was unachievable, “I learned that being a game designer meant I had to be a good logical problem solver and learn programming, which was probably one of my weakest subjects in general,” he said.
“I was told by a professor before I graduated that I was not fit for game design. However, he mentioned my animation was going in an interesting direction and urged me to apply to the Graduate UCLA Animation program in the film school,” he added.
The artist started his career by freelancing for animation studios before landing a job at Warner Bros. as a full time 2D animator in 2019. After 2 years of working there, he developed a passion towards Japanese anime. “I found out a few of my colleagues somehow were contacted by anime studios,” he added.
Porkky, then, landed a job at Tonari Animation, a web-based animation studio specializing in 2D animation services. The company has worked on notable anime series such as My Hero Academia, Boruto: Naruto Next Generations and Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War.
“I applied to Tonari Animation since it seemed like the best way to learn without making too many mistakes. It’s been about a year, but I’ve definitely managed to stay in the anime industry without burning out and am now working with my favorite studios…something I thought would take me 10 years instead of 1,” Porkky said.
About the challenges he faced during his career, Porkky told Arab News Japan: “for me (they) were related to drawing. It was very fun overall, but it was sometimes difficult to draw fast and well enough due to my skill level, so I had to keep practicing in my off time just to improve my speed without losing quality.”
When asked about the differences between Japan and Western countries when it comes to animation, Porkky said it was the way they deal with production, rather than style.
“With art style, I actually found that more people (who were experienced) in the western industry had an easier time adapting to Japanese anime (with proper directions, of course,) whereas Japanese animators had a harder time adapting to other styles outside of Japanese anime,” he added.
The animator advises upcoming artists to not give up on their dreams, even if they received bad feedback. “Learning fundamentals is important but for someone like me it can get very boring fast, so I like to change it up a bit and apply my practice to something more exciting to keep me motivated,” he recommended.
“Lastly, it is much better to have smaller goals (i.e. “I will finish this acting exercise by the end of this week” or “I will do 1 page of a storyboard showcasing an explosion and effect by tonight”) than much larger ones. A large goal is harder to pinpoint, but a smaller goal is much more realistic and will an artist improve much faster,” he added
Porkky is now a freelancer and visits Japan almost every year during the winter break for about a week with his family as part of a trip to visit both Japan and Taiwan, where his family is from. He has never been to the Middle East before but said that he has friends from the UAE , Saudi Arabia, and Egypt, which makes him excited to visit someday.