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Conversations with Susan Huang

Today we’d like to introduce you to Susan Huang.

Hi Susan, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
It took me over ten years to figure out what I really wanted to do as my career.

I was born in Taiwan. I was the kid who always doodled on her textbook but was not good at the study. I loved drawing, comics, and movies but was not interested in studying at all. That caused me always felt not confident about myself until I finished high school.

The only thing that could make me proud of myself was drawing. I didn’t know what should I do during that time. Struggled with my study and application to college. Since people around me were want to major in science, biology, or medicine, I never considered drawing as my career until I started college. I transferred my major to industrial design next year. There was a moment I thought I would be a designer in the future, designing all the cool products like laptops or mobile phones.

I started to regain my passion for art, especially 2D art. Compared to 3D modeling, I was more interested in 2D design, like sketching concepts and designing presentation layouts. After I graduated, I became a graphic designer and also an illustrator.

One day, I saw a trailer for an animated feature film, The Tale of Princess Kaguya by Ghibli Studio. It combined the art of traditional painting and animation. This made me decide to study animation abroad.

Luckily, after several rejections, I was accepted by Ringling college and had my first internship in the animation industry. Even if it’s been three years, I still remembered the moment I got the offer letter from TAIKO Studios in 2019 summer. I felt that is the best moment in my life when I heard back from TAIKO Studios and got the chance to work with the art director, one of my favorite artists. And that was also the start of my career.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Life is never easy. The biggest challenge for me was getting my foot in the animation industry after I graduated. It was 2020, the beginning of the pandemic, and I just graduated from school with very little working experience. As an international student, if I want to use my OPT to work in the US, I must find my first job within three months after I graduate from school. After lots of rejection, I thought that was the most stressful time of my life.

Fortunately, I heard back from Steamroller Studios. I was hired as a concept artist and got to work on my first game project! I really appreciated that they gave me the opportunity and took the time to mentor a junior artist.

Time flew, my contract ended after nine months and I needed to make the decision, to find a new job or back to Taiwan. This reminded me of the period time when I just graduated. At the time, I was frustrated with job hunting and lots of rejections. I decided back to Taiwan this time since I hadn’t been home for two years. Of course, I worried about my future. I worried about losing all the connections I built these five years.

But things went better than I expected. I am a freelancer now and work remotely for studios in the US while I live in Taiwan with my family.

The thing I learn is there is always a new challenge. Finding jobs, paying bills, rejection, and so on. All I can do is do the best I can. I will always feel it’s the end of the world when I am in chaos. But after that, It becomes another valuable experience in my life.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I can say I built my painting style at TAIKO Studios. It was a valuable experience where I had the chance to work as a background painter on a lovely animation short film “Pangu”. It is an amazing short film with bright colors and well-designed graphic shapes.

As a background painter, I think the most important thing is learning the painting style. Every film has its own art style, and usually, the studio hires multiple painters to work on the film. It is important to maintain continuity in the film, the painter needs to learn the art style of new projects in a short period of time and paint in the same way.

I think that’s the reason I love doing background painting. I learned lots of painting techniques through different projects! My next background painting job was a game project called “Curse Of The Deadwood” by Steamroller studios. To match the art style, I got the chance to try different painting styles. More detail and more realistic lighting. The production experience also helped me a lot in the later projects.

The next project is Portal Chase MARATHON, a series of Nickelodeon cartoons on Youtube. Not only did the background painting but also got the chance to do some concept designs. It was amazing when you saw your design became alive through those talented production artists. And I also worked as a concept artist for Titmouse Studios and ITEC Entertainment.

These experiences mean a lot to me and make me feel all the effort is worth it. I can still work for my dream studios while I stay with people I love. For sure, I have so many things need to learn and there is always a new problem that needs to be solved. But this encourages me to keep drawing and never stop learning.

What were you like growing up?
I was always a quiet kid drawing at the corner in the class. I didn’t speak too much and was never good at studying. People only thought of me when they needed to draw something or decorate the classroom. Maybe this is the reason why I never stop drawing. Drawing is the only thing that gives me a little bit of confidence. The happiest moment is when I hear people say “WOW”, the reaction after they see my work.

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