We had the good fortune of connecting with Charlotte Pang and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Charlotte, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Writing this answer really takes me back to all the wild decisions I made to get to this point, it’s a little bittersweet but I feel a little bloom of pride with the long journey I have been on. For me, taking risks is quite normal. A lot of the steps I took to get to where I am now were tough decisions to make especially the ones made during the pandemic.
I sit here now though staring at the big US blue sky outside my window and I can’t help but think to myself how damn lucky I am to have had those decisions pay off. Since high school, risk has played a huge factor in my decisions. I was always an arty kid, I really liked theatre, English literature and art but all these things I enjoyed were not known for having the most stable futures. I took a gap year too, another unconventional path, and I worked for a year in theatre lighting and sound. I took a risk to head abroad for my art studies to support my mother. I remember when we took the flight out of the UK to head back to my mother’s home Hong Kong, we were both watching the ground fall away, we held each other’s hands and cried. It was so scary to leave home and not know when we might be coming back. There were tough moments but, in the end, it opened the doors for me to go to the US. All these big life changing decisions have taught me to trust my gut, believe in the journey and to put yourself out there.
I am so grateful to have been able to travel during my studies, I have met so many wonderful friends and seen so much all of which enrich my creativity and the things that I make in my art. In my personal experiences, risk-taking is all about trusting yourself to not only embrace the new change but also pick yourself up should anything go wrong.
Most recently, I have been learning that risk may have taught me to be independent but also stopped me from fully trusting the people around me since I felt a lot of the pressure was on myself to make sure the risk pays off. I am currently working on trusting others more and to ask for help when I need it, I am learning to embrace the people around me and believe in them too. I am glad to be surrounded by people who support me and encourage me to continue working towards my goals!
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Right now, I’m working on a lot of personal projects at the same time after finishing up some work in the industry. The biggest thing I am working on is taking my thesis film, ‘SoFar’, through to the finish line. The film is about two friends looking for the perfect place to drink beer together on their orange couch. I want to give the film a good send off because I really enjoyed making it with my peers. Being able to take the film to some festivals and even win a couple of awards during the pandemic was a real achievement! Through this experience, I found my love for making animated shorts and collaborating with friends. Making the film was such a joy, I really cherished the process and, in the end, being able to see people laugh and react to something that I made was the true pay off for all the time spent. The ‘Pang Cut’ will be coming soon and be online to watch for free!
I’m always very motivated to keep working because it was not easy to get to this point and I think a lot of the difficulties were impracticalities to do with being an international student in the US. The biggest challenge I faced was never feeling like I had a stable home, and it greatly affected my creativity since I never felt truly comfortable or safe. I was lucky to find more friends and form a family with the people around me to keep me grounded and this was partially how ‘SoFar’ came to be. So, I like to make my personal work all about telling relatable stories. I started first with a little story time animation called ‘The Cloth Debacle’ where I talk about the struggles of being bilingual trying to buy some cloth in a busy Hong Kong store. This was a turning point for me because I got to watch people laugh at the animation and the story. I had only ever felt a similar sense of accomplishment when I used to do theatre and that was when I was able to connect the two together. Art and performance and the feeling of making a difference to someone’s day.
I am also working on getting into Twitch streaming! Growing up, I always watched gaming videos and playthroughs on Youtube. Now that live streaming is a popular format, I really want to give it a try myself. Live streaming also means that I must develop my personal brand and figure out what else I can offer other than playing games live. I am proud to say that I did a test stream recently and it was very successful (although with some minor audio issues), I had a great time offering live commentary while playing my favourite video games. Leaning into my fascination with sharks, I made a little shark icon that bounces up and down when I speak and my whole channel design is centered around Sharks and Tea (two of my favourite things).
Lastly, I have been updating my website and resume, creating more illustrations and art, volunteering and freelancing. It’s been great fun to help more non-profit organisations with design work, I am currently working with ASPIRE (Asian Sisters Participating in Reaching Excellence) and their conference in Fall that will be hosting talks to inspire, encourage and show how more Asian Women can work in leadership roles. I am on the creative committee and leading the team on the logo and aesthetic. I have been making sure to eat well, exercise and keep busy! It is great to work on personal things that I am passionate about.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Atlanta is such a beautiful, vibrant place! I highly recommend the High Museum of Art as a place to start, there are some great interactive installations right outside and maybe we can grab a hot drink right in the cafe nearby, then we’ll head into the building with incredible high ceilings, sunbeams and of course, lots of paintings and sculptures. Right across from there is the MODA, another great museum with beautiful modern art. If my friend is interested and if we’re allowed to, I would visit the Presbyterian church next door with them to check out the beautiful architecture and stained glass. Next up, Piedmont Park! Just a short walk there from the High Museum. I hope I can catch the King of Pops cart and get a good popsicle or get some good nosh from a food truck, I will never forget the most delicious ginger lemonade I had from the park. If I’ve got my sketchbook, I can spend a whole day drawing there with some good watercolours or colour pencils.
If it is Winter, I would take my friend to the botanical gardens to see the spectacular light show! When it starts to get to the evening time it would be great to catch a concert at the Woodruff Arts Centre or we will zoom off to Doraville for some good Asian food maybe Hot Pot or Korean Tofu soup for dinner and then some yummy Mango dessert afterwards.
Next day, we must go check out Georgia Aquarium, the biggest aquarium in the world! I would try to book one of the special behind the scenes tours too, so we get to see more of how the aquarium operates and some of the behind-the-scenes conservation efforts that happen, it’s especially incredible to see how they are working to save different coral species. Otherwise, seeing the big tank with the whale sharks, the dolphin show, seal show and spend a wonderful day checking out all the wildlife. My favourites are the puffins.
Can’t forget the conventions in the summer! Momocon and Dragoncon are a must see. Worth going if it’s the right season.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
SO many wonderful people. Firstly, the Hot Pot chat (you all know who you are!) who stuck through the struggles of senior year with me while all making some incredible art together. Also, the Post Art School Discord group where I’ve met a group of talented friends who have kept me sane during the lockdowns of Covid with our gaming nights, movie days and early morning chats. The professors from college who taught me how to draw, make beautiful art and utilise my own unique voice. Lastly, all my friends and teachers back in the UK for keeping up with all my adventures, checking in with me and dropping the occasional freelance design opportunity too. I am very grateful to have such a strong network of people who continually encourage me to tell my weird stories and support my endeavours. It’s a real privilege to know so many of you and I can’t thank everyone enough for pushing me to be the best I can be!