Seven ages of a creative: Andrew Thomas Huang

Filmmaker Andrew Thomas Huang is known for his otherworldly visions, earning him high-profile collaborations with Björk and FKA twigs. He talks to us about the need to allow creatives to grow as their careers develop

For this special project, we talk to 12 creatives and designers aged 19 to 87 about their experiences in the creative industry, their hopes and dreams, the changes they have witnessed during their career so far, and what further developments they hope may come in the future. This time we talk to director Andrew Thomas Huang, aged 37

Andrew Thomas Huang grew up in LA, on the doorstep of the entertainment industry, and was raised on a diet of 1990s MTV and the work of Spike Jonze and Chris Cunningham. Both directors are known for their memorable video work and collaborating with experimental musicians such as Björk. Little did Huang know he would one day join their ranks.

Keen on a career in film, he was advised to study art, “because the technology will change but your eye won’t”, and went on to do a degree in fine art and animation at the University of Southern California. He made his first film while at university, which went viral (director JJ Abrams called him the day after he graduated). “It was an immense amount of exposure coming out of school,” he says. “It was quite scary, actually, because no one really teaches you how to handle that.”

He emerged into the working world around the 2008 financial crash, so he picked up commercial gigs to tide himself over. “The conventional wisdom was: do every job you can, because you’re lucky to even be working,” he remembers. “I think that’s good advice for a certain time in your life, but I think that I was going against my instincts.”

Top: FKA twigs in Huang’s Grammy-nominated music video for Cellophane; Above: Andrew Thomas Huang