5Qs with Jane Shi, Character Designer and Illustrator

Our 5Qs series is a chance for the SGN members to know more about folks in the community, where we pose 5 questions to exciting individuals to find out more about what they do.

22 Apr 2022 / By SGN

Jane and her husky, Kimchi
Jane and her husky, Kimchi

Meet Jane, a talented LA-based Character Designer and learn about her unconventional route to the US in order to pursue her dreams of being an artist. Keep a look-out for an upcoming show that she worked on with Warner Bros Animation!


1. Tell us a bit about yourself – what brought you to the U.S.?

I was born and brought up in Singapore to parents that immigrated from Shanghai in their 20s. I attended the Singapore education system all the way until Junior College, studying sciences and mathematics, even though that was not where my interests lie. After flunking my A Levels, I think my parents realized that I am neither going to be happy nor do well in the science field, and gave me the green light to pursue art. I spent 2-3 years figuring out what I wanted to do, applied to 10 art schools around the world, and eventually decided on Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, LA due to the proximity to the entertainment industry, and here I am!

Jane (left) at the historic El Capitan Theatre, LA
Jane (left) at the historic El Capitan Theatre, LA

2. Tell us more about why you chose to be a character designer

I’ve been drawing since I could remember. I was always that kid that was doodling on everything. Exam papers, worksheets, notebooks etc. I think deep down, I’ve always known that I wanted to study art and design, but it was difficult to realise that dream with the stress of the Singapore education system and traditional chinese parenting. I think around the first year of Junior College, I started drawing a lot of portraits, and was deeply fascinated by them. I realized that the way someone posed in photographs, or even the photographs someone chooses to represent themselves, says tons about their personality. I started trying to include these subtleties I see in my portraits. And when I started taking art seriously, my fascination in portraits naturally progressed into a fascination in character design.

One of my Jane's first self-portraits
One of my first self-portraits that I ended up really liking!
A fun illustration Jane did to commemorate a Disney world trip
A fun illustration I did to commemorate a Disney world trip I took with some friends!

3. Share with us about some of your favourite designs and the story behind it

Reimagined design of characters from the musical "Rock of Ages"

This lineup of characters remains one of my favourite designs I have done. They are reimagined designs of characters from the musical “Rock of Ages”, which I was absolutely obsessed with at the time. I had so much fun with their shapes and personalities, and I am very happy with how this project turned out.

Sketches of a selfish, self absorbed kind

These are sketches of a selfish, self absorbed kind that I played with that I ended up really liking just because he ended up being such a melodramatic, funny character.

Quick gesture sketch with dramatic lighting

This was a quick gesture sketch that I fleshed out a little more, but I also ended up really liking the dramatic lighting on her and her attitude.

I am currently working on an animated show with Warner Bros Animation. I can’t say anything yet, but keep an eye out, it’s going to be really cool!


4. What are your hobbies?

I am one of those people that have way more hobbies than I probably should. For the most part, I love crocheting amigurumi and designing and sewing my own clothes. I also recently started a small business with my boyfriend selling our own handmade ceramics. Feel free to give it a follow on instagram @seajamstudios!

First batch of mugs that Jane and her boyfriend, Nick, made for their small business
First batch of mugs that Jane and her boyfriend, Nick, made for their small business

5. How do you stay connected to Singapore?

Aside from the pandemic years, I go back to Singapore at least once a year. I also have frequent video calls with my friends, and they sometimes send me sauces and condiments from home. I am also constantly trying out Southeast Asian restaurants that pop up in LA! So far, my favourite is Ipoh Kopitiam in Alhambra. Their prata + curry chicken, kaya toast, and kopi makes me feel, for a minute, that I am back home again.

Jane and friends
Karyan (left), Nick (top), Jane (top right), Weng Siang (right) enjoying dinner at Newton Food Court


I am always open for illustration and/or design opportunities! Feel free to check out more of my work on my instagram:

Instagram: @janershee
Website: https://www.janeshi.studio/


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