When she was a young girl, people would ask Celeste: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Celeste would then provide a different answer every time, but at around the age of ten, she began to seriously consider what her career would be. She would hear people say “You’re about to turn ten! You’ll be a big girl!” Celeste took this statement very seriously and stressed about deciding on a career.

“What do I like to do? I like to watch cartoons, so let’s make cartoons.”

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Celeste Nevid Velasquez Bottini was born in Maturín, Venezuela but raised in the country’s capital, Caracas. She also lived a few years in the city of Cumaná and has even travelled to Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Iran and Kazakhstan.

Celeste is currently studying Media, Arts, and Design (MAD) at UIC, which is a new programme. She researched schools globally, looking for one with art and design. She was originally interested in applying at Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU), as her aunt lives in Hong Kong; however, HKBU did not have the programme she was looking for, so HKBU encouraged Celeste to look into UIC, co-founded by HKBU and Beijing Normal University (BNU).

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Celeste inside the lion costume for the lion dance

MAD incorporates all forms of media, art, and design, such as drawing, IT, animation and journalism. She is specifically interested in 3D printing and drawing and wants to work alongside animators, such as a storyboard artist or concept art designer.

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Celeste and classmates drawing during a CLC lecture about a cartoon version of "Journey to the West"

Celeste did not entertain this idea until high school, where she began to create her own characters. Along with a friend in high school, using their combined imagination, they collaborated and created comics of their own world.

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Some of Celestes' illustrations

Celeste passionately described details from some of her favourite TV shows and the process behind animating the scenes. She compared and contrasted different animation and art styles, and said how one of her favourite cartoons is Invader Zim. She continued by saying how older cartoons in the 2000s era, like Invader Zim, Courage the Cowardly Dog, Growing Up Creepie, and Grossology, had a peculiar influence on her. She explained her fascination with the raw side of nature and how she wants to make her cartoons “lovingly scarring”. She also got very passionate about the characters and stories that she has created on her own.

Celeste explained how there were a variety of cartoon options and genres available to her whilst growing up, and mentioned a few recent cartoons that stood out from the rest.

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Making dumplings

Through her passion and dedication to her studies, Celeste is one of the first international degree-seeking students to study at UIC for all four years. Her imagination, artistic abilities, and overall drive enable fellow students and staff members to briefly see her work. An example would be during the CLC Talent Show for the Fall semester when Celeste and a fellow classmate analysed a Chinese legend and Celeste used her drawings as a way to help fuel the audiences’ imagery on this specific legend.

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Celeste is about to explain 'Romance of the Three Kingdoms' using her drawings on the next slide

Celeste engages in Chinese classes and lectures as well as recently travelling with other international exchange students and interns to Zhongshan for a day trip. She is currently enjoying the weather here in Zhuhai, commenting that it is different from the hot weather in Venezuela.

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Reporter: Marissa Furney
Photographs supplied by Celeste Nevid, Marissa Furney and IDO
Editors: Samuel Burgess, Deen He, Étienne Fermie
(from MPRO)