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Academy of Art University Student Impresses Guests at Asian Art Museum

Hellen Jo just finished her first year at Academy of Art University, but she’s already on her way to an illustrious comic book career. The BFA 2D Animation student has participated in numerous shows, designed several fliers for Asian American film and music festivals, and is now an Artist in Residency at the Asian Art Museum in conjunction with Tezuka: The Marvel of Manga exhibit.

Before she came to Academy of Art University, Hellen studied German at the University of California, Berkeley. To fulfill her love of illustration, she took a few classes at UC Berkeley, but they were not enough. She had friends at Academy of Art University and her interest was piqued after she heard about the school’s Illustration and Animation programs.

"Everyone I knew in the Illustration program was really talented," she said.

She decided to transfer and enroll in the Academy’s 2D Animation program.

"I've definitely been influenced by the growing trend towards cartoons marketed to adults, as well as the presence of nontraditional animation in mainstream media," she said.  

Hellen was asked to be an Artist in Residency at the Asian Art Museum for their events surrounding Tezuka: The Marvel of Manga exhibit. Interestingly, Hellen doesn’t categorize her work as manga, the style of Japanese comics.

"Stylistically at least, I'm headed down a different road," she said.  However, I would be crazy to turn down such a great opportunity, and I feel that the museum is also providing support for local Asian American artists through these programs, which I really appreciate."

At the multimedia Blast Off! event, she demonstrated screenprinting for guests and at the  upcoming AsiaAlive: Manga in the Making event, Hellen will demonstrate her approach to making comics. Guests will have the opportunity to observe the creation of her new comic – a coming-of-age story with a twist.

In addition to the Asian Art Museum’s events, Hellen’s comics have appeared in Asian pop culture magazine Giant Robot and she has participated in three of their exhibitions in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Her work was on display at the Life in the Comics exhibit, curated by the Oakland Museum of California at the Oakland International Airport. Hellen’s work will be featured in the upcoming Small Press Spotlight at the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco.

With such an impressive comic resume, Hellen is looking forward to moving into the new realm of 2D Animation at the Academy.

"I'm excited because what I've learned here has directly improved my comic drawing skills," she said. "My personal goal is to leave the Academy a much more capable artist than when I entered."

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