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:

My online portfolio: