As a Chinese American kid growing up in the suburbs of the Bay Area from a blue collar immigrant family, becoming an artist and entrepreneur was never in the plans.
I’ve always had a big imagination and big ambitions to go along with my big ideas. I’ve always wanted to make things that people love and have the creative freedom to do it. But how could I pursue my dreams when my working class parents just wanted me to go to college and get a good job?
Graduating from college and getting a good job is exactly what I did at first. In 2001, I found myself making spreadsheets for a living and I thought to myself, there had to be more to life than crunching numbers, right?
Anything is Possible
Everything changed when I met a group of art students on a metro commute home. I followed my curiosity and started taking art classes. My inner voice that told me that I was an artist. An artist makes art and I wanted to be able to think of ideas and make them happen.
Following my interest in art led to a job at Pixar as a production scheduler. Eventually, I left Pixar to pursue my artistic goals at Art Center College of Design. It was at Art Center that I discovered my love of picture books. Afterwards, I worked in games before becoming a published picture book author/illustrator with the publication of Ninja!
In 2016, I founded Storyteller Academy to share my knowledge of how to make picture books.
How to Make Ideas Happen
People ask me this question all of the time.
I know how it feels. You have ideas but you don’t want them just to live in your head. You want them to be real.
So how do you make ideas happen?
How do successful people make their dreams come true? What’s the difference between those who achieve their goals versus those who struggle to find their inner voice and confidence?
Here’s step 1: Listen to your inner voice.
I believe we are all born creative and that we all have gifts to share with the world. Somehow, deep inside you, you already know who you are and who you are meant to be.
Listening to that inner voice is the first step to your destiny.
Step 2: Write down your goals.
Take a moment to listen your inside and write those goals down.
Step 3: Start learning. Study the masters.
Learn from mentors. Studying with mentors is the fastest way to learn; there’s no need to reinvent the wheel.
Success leaves clues and you can follow them to grow faster. Continue to grow and never give up. Mistakes are part of the learning process to mastering your craft.
For me, I’ve grown from being a spreadsheet jockey at Pixar to art directing video games to published author and illustrator to an entrepreneur.
I’m living proof that you can peruse your dreams and live the creative life you’ve envisioned for yourself.
Step 4: Envision the Future.
Everyone has a unique gift to give to the world.
So I’ve got a question for you. What’s your unique gift? What’s your passion? What’s your creative vision?
If you’re a storyteller, I invite you to join our creative community at Storyteller Academy. At storyteller Academy, you’ll get the training and tools to become a published author or illustrator.
Step 5: Make a plan and just get started.
If you are a parent or educator who works with kids, you can download our activity guides. And if you are interested in a visit, check out our visits page.
Thank you so much for taking the time to visit. I’m excited to head what your vision is and to see what you create.
Let's Get Started!
Do you have a story that is stuck in your head or have you always dreamed of writing and illustrating books? If so, get started at Storyteller Academy!
Schedule A Visit
Would you like Arree to visit your school? School visits are a opportunity to share powerful messages and inspire children to write and tell stories.
Do you have young storytellers that love to write and draw? Download Arree's Creativity kit for kids!
Let's Make an Impact
Each year, I donate thousands of dollars to First Book, We Need Diverse Books and the Texas Book Festival. Together, we can bring inspiration, books and great stories to under served communities. Join me in making a difference!