My Journey: Donna Lee (Story Artist)

Donna is a story artist based in Los Angeles and has worked at multiple animation studios such as Walt Disney Animation Studios, DreamWorks, and Paramount Studios. Her credits include films such as “Frozen II”, “Abominable” and “Wonder Park”. Since she was a little girl, Donna grew up watching a lot of animation particularly, “The Lion King” & “Beauty and the Beast”. These two films were her main inspiration for pursuing a career in animation. All the stories felt so vivid and fascinating to her, that she sometimes even got the feeling that she was involved in the story. These stories inspired her to create a continuous story line of her own, which laid the foundation for her limitless imagination. She always carried a pocketbook and pens so she could easily draw anything she wants out of her imagination. Donna’s mother noticed her gift at a very early age and encouraged her to focus on what she loves to do. These are the main reason that she never stops practicing drawing and following her dream of becoming an animation artist.

“Drawing is a tool to tell my story and express myself. I had no siblings, so I was not very good at interacting with people. But drawing was indeed my way of communicating with people.”  

Donna was able to enter the Rhode Island School of Design in New York and took an animation class. You think she would excel quickly in this class, but Donna soon realized that this might not be the avenue that she thought she wanted. Donna went on to explain that there are 24 drawings to make up 1 second in an animation film. Because of this, she spent her time drawing thousands of pictures. She said “I almost lost my mind. I just wanted to tell the story. I love drawing but it’s because I want to tell story.” For her, drawing is a tool for storytelling and at that time the process of animation was overwhelming. After 2 years of her learning experience in Rhode Island School of Design, she decided to move to Los Angeles in order to expand her knowledge by learning the art of story boarding. She then enrolled in a story boarding class and she finally found a place where she felt comfortable using her creative talents.

She had been looking for a quality sketchbook that she can easily carry around and retain her numerous drawings that she created daily. That is when she encountered TRAVELER’S notebook at a stationery store in downtown LA. Donna described the moment she saw TRAVELER’S notebook.

“It was everything I was looking for in a sketchbook, which was something that I could personalize and be versatile to my ever-changing growth as an artist.”

Donna continued “whether I’m using it for cafe sketching or taking notes in a meeting, it gives me the flexibility to do quick graphite sketches one minute, then watercolor the next. The refill customization has not only kept my sketches organized, but it has also given me encouragement to explore different mediums.” As a Story Artist who draws stories for a living, Donna loves to study the world around her and she uses her TRAVELER’s notebook as a reference book of inspiration where she can pull ideas to create her own worlds and characters. At first glance, her TRAVELER’S notebook resembles a photo album, but all the visuals are her collection of drawings. Donna says that she wanted to know about TRAVELER’S notebook earlier so that she could have stored her past drawings to reflect on the road map of her past journey.

Donna describes TRAVELER’S notebook in one word as “limitless”. Whether she is browsing through the TRAVELER’S collections or looking at how others use theirs, she always feels inspired to try something new and it’s exciting for her to know that there are endless possibilities to express one’s creativity with just one notebook.

When Donna is not drawing, she loves spending time exploring Los Angeles and traveling to different countries. She chose Japan as a destination for her honeymoon and visited TRAVELER’S FACTORY in Nakameguro as a highlight of her trip. She spent a few hours there enjoying shopping and drawing the story board of her trip at the hidden loft upstairs. “It was so cozy, and everything seemed to be designed with love and care.”

Donna is indeed a good storyteller and we felt that she has been enjoying her journey so much. At the end of the interview, she shared with us her vision of the future. We truly hope that she will create another chapter of her life together with her TRAVELER’S notebook, which will always remind her that the possibilities are limitless.

 

Have a nice trip!


 

PROFILE:

Donna Lee  – Story Artist at Walt Disney Animation Studio

Donna is a story artist based in Los Angeles and has worked for Disney Animation Studios since 2017. She previously shared her creative talent with Dream Works, and Paramount Studios. Her credits include films such as “Frozen II”, “Abominable” and “Wonder Park”. Donna always loved drawing animals when she was small. She also enjoyed watching Disney animation movies, such as “Lion King”  or “Beauty and the Beast”.