3D Artist & Manager at Snap Inc.
Who is Andrew Hwang?
“Hi, my name is Andrew Hwang, I was born in Philadelphia PA and moved out to California in 2007 to pursue a career in video games and feature films.
I’ve been fortunate enough to work on numerous Marvel films and be able to work closely with a lot of great directors and AD’s. My last few projects involved creating art assets for VR experiences for Ridley Scott and Steven Spielberg over 4 years ago.
Since then, I have joined Snapchat as my curiosity for AR grew and I wanted to find new growth opportunities and challenges for myself. I work at Snapchat as a team manager exploring new ways to help grow the platform and the business and I work with a wonderful and supportive group of people.”
“Throughout your life, what kind of support did you have from the people around you when it comes to your artistic developments?”
“I actually didn’t have a lot of support early on and I wanted to talk about this because I grew up in a very traditional family environment where grades, hard work, and academics came first over creativity. I did learn to take those tools of diving into areas I wanted to grow in, practice repetition, build up muscle memory and then apply it to art.
For a large portion of my earlier life, I felt like I was being molded into something I did not want to be. I’m sure that it’s something that a lot of us can relate to.
Only until I went to college to adamantly pursue art, I found a core group of people that all just wanted to get better. We used each other in the best ways possible to build ourselves up over the course of our time in school. Make sure you have a good environment of people around you that lift you up and be wary of those that seem to always drag you down.”
“Is there something you wish you had done differently leading up to where you are now?”
“Growing up being very introverted and always being in my own headspace, I do wish I had learned to communicate with others better and more effectively. Knowing how to have casual and respectful conversations with others, and even knowing how to properly negotiate or defuse combative conversations are important soft skill tools to have.
Knowing how to use these tools effectively can only make you into a better and more valuable team member and are good skills to work on daily.
That’s not to say I am now a completely renounced extrovert, as I still value my time where I can unplug from a lot of different aspects in life, I’ve just learned that there’s a time and place for that as well that I make space for in my schedule. For me, it’s as important as eating and sleeping.”
“What’s one specific memory you never want to forget?”
“That’s an easy one. It’s not art-related, but it would be the birth of my son Ethan. The happiest day of my life!”
“What chapter in your life, did you enjoy most?”
“I would say my current chapter. I know it’s tough for a lot of people right now, but getting to be at home and watching my son grow up, and being thankful that I am able to work right now makes me feel fortunate for what I have. Also avoiding LA traffic allows me to do more personal artwork these days which I hope I can continue doing on a somewhat regular basis.”
“What does the process of coming up with new ideas look like for you?”
“A lot of research and trial & error. Don’t be afraid to start over.
I begin by collecting images that inspire me and feel like it could be a good fit for what I am working on. Even photo bashing them together and turning everything into black and white just to see if the shapes/silhouette are working together will help a lot with the design process.
I try to keep in mind that your eyes need areas of visual stimulation and also areas of rest which will help to prevent over detailing every part of your model. Even if you do have a lot of highly detailed areas (which I love doing and getting lost in that process!! :D) be sure that there are also areas in which the eye can relax and look at broader shapes as well.
As I start making my way through the model and progress in a direction in which I am happy, I also start removing references from my board to help declutter and refocus on the areas I want to work on for the model. I also try to make an excuse to try a new technique or a new tool I have not used or am not familiar with so I can keep updating my skillset whenever I can.
An example being, I have never used UDIMMs in Blender, or setup hair particles using that software having only used it for a year, and so I made sure to use it in my last Zhong Fenghua Demon model and I am also happier with a piece when I know I have learned something new.”
“Looking back at your career, which project did you enjoy working on the most?”
“I am very much enjoying my current project at Snapchat as it will mean a lot of new creative content for the AR space. Much like how I had described my college years, I am surrounded by people that only try to lift each other up, so we can all progress forward together.
If I had to choose a project from the past, then I would say it would be my first VR projects for the Martian for Ridley Scott and Raising a Ruckus for Steven Speilberg were amazing. I don’t think they got quite the attention that the studios were looking for, but I definitely went through an artistic growth spurt working on those with a lot of talented people, learning from them. Also working with the latest cutting-edge tech that wasn’t available publicly at the time all made it very memorable for me.”
Remembering an artist’s name shows that you care. It’s not all about the artwork, but also who created it! If you could ask Andrew Hwang any question, which one would it be? Post it in the comments down below!