It was by a stroke of luck, that an opportunity nothing short of amazing landed right in her lap, seemingly destined. Rachel Ho Fui Shin could hardly believe it when she was scouted and commissioned to illustrate promotional poster artwork for the world’s top animation studio Walt Disney, for its 2021 animated film “Raya and the Last Dragon”. Growing up watching Disney movies, it was a dream come true to be able to contribute her work in one.
Rachel grew up in a small town in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. The illustration graduate of The One Academy currently resides in Selangor and works as a game artist in an award-winning local indie game company – Kurechii, founded by fellow alumnus, P’ng Yi Wei.
She reminisced that in her early childhood, she would always be in her own little world as an introvert. She liked scribbling on walls, until her mother gave her recycled exercise books to doodle on. At the age of 8, she would draw the characters from the cartoons that she watched on television, such as the Powerpuff Girls. That was when she acknowledged her love for drawing.
Growing up, she took to drawing as just a hobby and have never considered studying art because there was no such education offered in her hometown. That was until one day, she happened to pass by the assembly hall in her high school where The One Academy was having their education roadshow. The artworks that she saw there left a deep impression inside her, and made her think that she wanted to be as good as those people one day. That was when she made up her mind about pursuing to study art.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing after that. She first had to convince her parents who were quite skeptical about her questionable choice. Not only was it costly to study art, no one in her family lineage has ever gone through this path. On top of the fact that they considered art as more of a hobby than a career, they were more worried if she would be able to survive and earn a living in the future.
“This journey wasn’t easy and there were times that I wanted to give up because of the overwhelming pressure and expectations I have to meet. I’m very lucky to have my family and friends to support me throughout. Also, I have to constantly remind myself why I chose this path at the first place,” she added.
After graduating, she started to work as an illustrator at one of her lecturer’s studio, working on mostly card games and western comic illustrations. When she realised that she liked to do cartoony works, she joined a 2D animation studio as a background and concept artist. A few years of gaining experience later, she left and started her freelance journey in 2018. Speaking about her passion, Rachel says that she enjoys the ‘magical’ process of seeing an idea form into a sketch, then progressing into a final artwork or product.
“Expect to encounter a lot of challenges and failures. Stay humble and don’t forget why you chose art in the first place. Rejection doesn’t mean you’re not good enough, it’s probably just that they’re looking for a more fitting art style,” Rachel said in advice to aspiring young artists.