She was told that studying art would not yield much reward in the future. Ms Athira Suresh, however, was undeterred.
The 23-year-old, who developed a passion for art at age 13 and studied visual arts at the School of the Arts (SOTA), completed her Bachelor of Arts in animation and video graphics at Lasalle College of the Arts.
She is now working as a graphics designer in a programmatic company based in the United Kingdom and runs a digital art business on the side.
Ms Athira is also a brand engagement lead for Cartoons Underground, South-east Asia's largest animation festival at which the works of budding animators from Singapore, the region and around the world are showcased.
The festival, which will be held physically and virtually from Nov 20 to 27 at *SCAPE, has launched the careers of several studio heads, directors and animators.
"We always believed Singapore had a huge potential to be a hub for independent animation for the entire region," said the festival's director Vicky Chen.
"When we launched the festival, Singapore was trying to tempt the big international studios. But it's the independent studios that have stayed and 10 years on we're seeing more and more people buying into our vision."
Ms Athira received guidance from Ms Chen during the early years of the festival when she was a volunteer.
"Taking Vicky's guidance and the resources from Cartoons Underground has opened several doors for me," said Ms Athira, a Singaporean who migrated from Chennai with her engineer parents in 2001.
"My parents did not send me specially to art class when I was young. I used to paint along with family friends. That was the beginning of my journey."
After her PSLE, Athira decided to join SOTA. She started by learning traditional art and then progressed to graphics design and eventually animation.
Her talent led to her joining technology and analysis solutions company Media IQ in the UK for whom she presents data in bite-sized, attractive formats.
Ms Athira advises young art students not to pay too much heed to talk that graphics designers are paid poorly.
"At the right workplace, with a well-prepared portfolio of graphics art and animation, a graphics designer can make the desired progress," she said.
"Along with honing one's technical skills, it is important for a budding artiste to network and form relationships with industry professionals."