What It Was Like Working At A 1980s Taiwanese Animation Factory

Animation artist Jamie Baker (UP, WALL·E, Finding Nemo) has written a hilarious, detailed account of what it was like to work as an artist in Taiwan in the mid-1980s. Spoiler—it was weird:

Taiwan is where people began calling me ‘Jamie’ rather than my real name of ‘James.’ Someone from the translation department (which was essential for us expat supervisors to communicate with the Taiwanese crew) said my name of James would be too confusing, because it was already associated with the owner of the studio, James Wang (who was such a big shot that nobody else could even use the same name). When asked if there were any other names I was known by, I said Sydney friends had called me Jimmy, to a gale of embarrassed giggles from the translator. She made it quite clear that ‘Jimmy’ was not going to be an acceptable name, and wouldn’t tell me why, no matter how much I asked. (Perhaps someone can tell me if there is a word in Mandarin—or maybe Taiwanese—that sounds like ’Jimi’ but means something filthy, like ‘aardvark penis’ or something? I’ve always wanted to know.) Instead, I chose Jamie because that was what I was called by my family when I was small, and what my mother continued to call me until she died. I never knew this name would stick, but it’s a pleasant reminder of her.

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  • Arthur Filloy

    Jamie Baker is indeed a true talent, I’ve been fortunate to have known him for the last four decades or so.
    An amazing artist, a brilliant wordsmith and above all, one of the nicest blokes I know.
    ‘On ya Jamie!’

  • Funkybat

    Now I want to know what was so funny/unacceptable about “Jimmy” too!