STEP Reflection

Type of Project: Artistic and Creative Endeavors: Writing and publishing a Children’s Book

For my STEP Signature Project, I decided to use my artistic and creative abilities in writing and helping illustrate a children’s book. This children’s book is aimed at teaching four to six year old children how to write their numbers correctly in a fun way. Once I wrote and helped illustrate this book, I brought it to the hands of a publishing company and am in the process of getting published.

Because of this opportunity Ohio State gave to me, I was able to transform more than I could have imagined. I always knew that I wanted to create a career in healthcare so following that route has limited the other activities I wanted to be involved in. However, STEP allowed me to go out of the box and reach for something that was completely different than my healthcare dreams; it was a dream to write. Because of STEP, I was able to transform myself into an entrepreneur, an author, and an artist. I would have never been able to become any of these three things without STEP’s help. Moreover, I appreciate and thank this organization for allowing me to open up my horizons and allowing me to change the world that those awed- eyed toddlers and me live in. I hope that like STEP, I too can make a difference.

I created many relationships and networks as my STEP Signature Project progressed. My STEP mentor was my biggest advocate. She guided me into wanting to even write and publish a book and helped in any way she could on getting me there. She answered any of my nettlesome questions even after my STEP experience was over. Also, I networked within the publishing company I chose. I was able to network far beyond what I had imagined for my college experience. Above all, these relationships affected me. Because of STEP, I was able to broaden my network and as a result, it had changed the way I interact and act. It gave me the courage to experience outside of what was comfortable for me.

Aside from my networks, I perfected my organizational skills in this experience. I had deadlines I set for myself and I abided by them. I created a demo book within a month’s time span so that I can have something to hold, go back to, and to show to anyone interested in my book so far. When I had questions about the creation of the book, I was able to call the companies and discuss my confusions. My favorite story while enduring this opportunity permanently resides in me now: I was on the phone with Shutterfly whist asking them questions about how to change the color of the background. The man on the phone was from Texas and had a thick southern accent. He yelped with glee when he started to glance over my creation. He stated that once it was published, he would buy it for his three-year-old son in hopes of teaching him his numbers. He even showed his other coworkers who were passing by. It was the most powerful moment I had in this experience. It showed me that I can make a difference across the country; to people I hadn’t even known and that my book was already speaking volumes. I had supporters everywhere and was so excited to continue on my journey.

However, obstacles did arrive at times. I struggled with finding a publishing company I truly desired. I did my research and found that many of the publishing companies I had wanted prior were either scams or difficult to work with. I also was finding that the more I wanted with the book, the more expensive it was going to be. These specific obstacles alone had transformed me. They taught me to truly look deep into the Internet’s offerings and see who was real, who was phony, and who had what I wanted. I became more of a businesswoman than I thought.

This transformation is significant to me because it has shaped me for my future endeavors. I now am able to teach children how to write their numbers correctly. Because of STEP, I have created a teacher and author within myself. I am able to show children a project that I created with a sympathetic hand. I am able to write even more stories because STEP has opened up that opportunity for me. This experience has changed me because it has changed my route; I have always wanted to be in the medical field because I enjoyed helping others. But now, I can help others in a different, more unique way like a children’s book. Thank you STEP for allowing me to experience something different, demanding, and overall remarkable.

My STEP Experience: Focusing on 2D Animation – Catherine Lee

For the last year, I’ve spent my time focusing on creating work to submit to exhibitions and adding to my portfolio. Using the funds from STEP, I was able to buy the equipment that I needed to create the work and present it during exhibitions. I also decided to open an online store and submit my work to screenings and exhibitions in order to help start saving for graduate school.

Through the project, I was able to learn about what kind of work I am interested in doing in the future. In my major, there are no classes that teach 2D hand-drawn animation, but I had the opportunity to take a course that helped me get started on understanding the basics of 2D computer animation. I really enjoy 2D animation, and through making those animations, I hope to enter graduate school with a focus on 2D animation. I also realized through the project what kind of content I enjoy creating, and I was also able to figure out a process to create my work. The work I create starts with an emotion and maybe a phrase related to it that soon becomes a still image. From that image, I become inspired to think of other imagery related to the emotion. From there, I create a rough storyboard of the sequence of images. Even then, the sequence isn’t finalized until after I have created the animations and I am starting to piece them together.

My animations were inspired by the experiences I had after coming back home from meeting and getting close to a group of people I met over the summer, in a separate program not related to my STEP project. The experience I had with them really impacted the way I felt after coming home. This helped motivate me to create the animations that I had created, which led to me figuring out what kind of work I enjoy doing.

During the project, I also had a professor that helped me figure out how to approach these emotions and animations. She helped me by talking with me about my thoughts, and gave me advice that really helped me push forward. Because the animations are the result of my personal experiences, I began to feel conflicted about how much of myself I am showing to the world. It made me feel vulnerable, since I was translating my emotions into my work. The endings of the animations were a struggle in this sense. I didn’t want to leave the animation on a heavy note, yet it didn’t make sense for things to end bright and positive, as if nothing was wrong in the first place. So my professor told me that I can try to make things end on a lighter note if I wanted to find a way to do that, but if I couldn’t then that is okay. In the media and in the movies, animated movies always seem to have this happy ending that is a resolved ending. There is something nice about animations that don’t do that, and in the end leave people wondering about what happened. In my animations, I hope that I had left people wondering about themselves, and their own experiences.

The feeling of being vulnerable is something that I had to learn to accept. My animations were accepted into exhibitions and screenings in the past year, and being able to share those to a larger audience made me accept this feeling. Because I realized that I’m not the only one that has these feelings, and these experiences.

This change impacted the way I felt about 2D animation. Animation can become a way for me to share my thoughts and experiences to the world. It can be a way to allow for contemplation, and for introspection. It doesn’t need to follow the traditional look of animation we see through movies and cartoons. I really enjoy the kind of work I make, and I would like to keep doing it. I plan on going to graduate school, and I hope that I can bring this kind of work to whatever program I am accepted into. I had considered going to a school where everything is just 2D hand-drawn and traditional animation (pencil and paper animation), but then I would feel a loss in what I have been working with—digital hand-drawn animation, and video and color layers within them. Perhaps a program where I can further develop my 2D hand-drawn skills to create digitally produced works would be better. Entering a different environment than the one I’m currently in and have been in since I was born would definitely influence the narratives I create. Because of the project, I’ve realized how I still have a long way to go when it comes to animation. Since I already know that I would like to attend a graduate school to get a degree in animation, I know that I will keep working hard to improve my skills and create more work, even after this project.

My Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/cyrlee

My online portfolio: http://cargocollective.com/cyrlee