Friday, May 23, 2008


Even though the occasional cloud chased the sun, the weather held on what turned out to be a somewhat hot afternoon in front of MassArt. A New Orleans jazz band started it all off, and we heard some lovely speeches from the faculty and visiting artists. (Hilariously, almost all of the speeches mentioned the high probability that we would be broke/unemployed as professional artists.) I was so happy to see that some of my pharmacy interns (pictured here) showed up to wish me congratulations, too! When commencement ended, the faculty started to leave the stage, and they played the Who's "Baba O'Riley" (aka "the Teenage Wasteland" song) as we threw our caps in the air. As I stuffed my face with carrot cake at the reception afterwards, it was hard to imagine that it was finally all over. In fact, I still felt like I was going to be returning here in September, ready for another year of projects. I will truly miss my wonderful classmates in the animation department. Stay in touch, guys!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Portfolio Night - only Blueberry Beer made it better

Portfolio Night is a big night for the Communication Arts Dept (which encompasses Design, Illustration, and Animation). You basically spend a lot of sleepless nights and money polishing all your stuff, making DVDs, resumes, 2D illustration portfolio, and other self-promoting materials. After setting everything up, you sit at a table and awkwardly wait for potential employers to come in and gawk over your stuff. Unfortunately for the animation dept, virtually no one came in to talk to us (2 companies very briefly stopped by). Who knows why? Maybe it was just a lack of interest this year. Maybe it was the rain. All we knew is that it was a huge waste of time, and we disappointingly made zero contacts for all of our efforts. Everybody was exhausted- we went straight from the hellish conclusion of our DPs to the around-the-clock preparation for Portfolio Night. As we packed up at the end of the night (2 of my classmates suffered injuries while breaking down the projection room), we knew that only 1 thing could make everything okay: Boston Beer Works. As we shared drinks and food, most of us suddenly felt a huge weight lifted from our shoulders. It was finally all over- all that remained was graduation.

Friday, May 9, 2008


Wow, what a rollercoaster week this has been. Last Friday, I returned home at night, stressed out from a super crazy week at work. Plus, the final final final deadline for our DPs was on the following Monday. I brewed a huge pot of coffee and prepared to pull an all-nighter to finish my film. Around 1 am, I received an email from the faculty of our dept that my DP was not chosen for our school's main animation show, Squealing Pegs, but for the On Deck show (I think the title pretty much sums up THAT show). I hate to admit it, but it totally crushed my spirit. I have never worked so hard on something before in my life; I've gained weight, not seen my friends, and been stressed out and exhausted for 8 months straight. So it was hurtful that I couldn't be included with my other classmates' DPs in the main show.

Fast forward to Wednesday night. I was excited to see some of my friends' animations that would be in the program, but at that point, was pretty meh about my own. That's why I was so surprised that my film received such a warm response. In the end, the audience voted my DP as the show favorite, and it was selected to be re-played at Squealing Pegs! (As were 2 of my totally deserving classmates.)

And now, Friday night. My parents were in town to see my baby nephew, and were taken to the show by my brother and his wife. My parents have NEVER been supportive of anything art-related in my life. I was so surprised that they seemed to really enjoy my film, and were seemingly happier and prouder of me than when I graduated from pharmacy school! Afterwards, when I went to the gallery exhibit that lovely Laura spent so much time setting up, many people came up to me to offer their compliments. I was so touched when people told me that the final message of the film- to never do anything just for the money- caused some personal reflection on their own lives and the decisions that they've made. That my tiny film could have that kind of effect on people is truly the greatest compliment of all.

Of course, I have to add this totally racist observation: multiple times at the gallery exhibit, people cautiously approached me and asked, "Are you... Susan Chien?" Hello? Obvi! Do you see any other Asians here tonight?! :)

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

What an empty life these kids have

I got my latest edition of the ongoing "The Complete Peanuts" collection from amazon today. I've been too busy with school to read any of them (9 volumes so far), but plan on going through and enjoying every single strip when I'm free from homework this summer. It's sad for me to think that my nephew, Michael, will grow up without all the wonderful art (yes, ART, I say!) that I grew up with. On Saturday mornings, I would sit and watch Looney Tunes for hours (I've come to realize that Chuck Jones had an immense influence on my animation, and even my personal sense of humor). And on Sundays, I used to sit and read the funnies thoroughly- mesmerized by the wonderful worlds of Charles Schulz and Bill Watterson. What will Michael have growing up? Goddamn "Da Bratz" cartoons and terrible CG bullshit series that last for 1 season? Sunday funnies with more ads than cartoons, and that effin' "Family Circus" that just won't die? Augh! When I babysit him, I'm going to quietly whisper "Snoopy" and "Calvin and Hobbes" to him.

By the way, if it's been awhile since you've watched an old Chuck Jones cartoon, do yourself a favor and watch Feed the Kitty. The dog's expression at 03:41 is priceless.