September 12, 2015
1.) What's your earliest memory of making art?
I do remember drawing a giant cookie on my notebook in first grade and everyone going crazy about that.
2.) Did you take a lot of art classes in high school?
Yes. I actually went to a magnet school, Design and Architecture Senior High in Miami, Florida. It definitely prepared me for college. By my senior year, I took one math class and everything else was art. I took three AP art classes.
3.) Why did you choose to attend an art + design school?
I’ve always been inclined to do art but at some point I decided not to pursue fine arts as a career, because I had a stereotypical idea of artists being poor. Then I went to Hong Kong and found out fashion design exists and it inspired me to pursue design.
4.) What made you choose CIA?
There are a lot of schools with game design programs but I only looked at schools that were credible. CIA is a good, well-known school that has a good history and strong graduates coming out of it.
5.) What made you choose your major?
I always really liked playing games and when I found out you could major in it, I decided to try.
6.) Is having your own studio important to your education?
I think it’s really, really important. I’ve benefitted a lot from that. I’m always working in there and it’s really great to have that community. Game design is a very collaborative kind of space. You’re always building connections. And you want to build connections; these are the people that are going out into the same field as you.
7.) How are your relationships with CIA faculty different than your relationships with your high school teachers?
It’s definitely a lot closer. You get to really know your professors and they get to know you and how you work and see you grow. I really appreciate our professors at CIA because they really do go way out and beyond for their students, like helping you in the summer, even though that’s not something they’re necessarily paid for.
8.) Tell us about your internship at NASA.
CIA does teach students, not just that technical skill for the industry, but how to efficiently work, so that when you’re given a new task, something you don’t know how to do, you can do it. You can still deliver within the timeframe that’s expected. When I first arrived at NASA, we were expected to develop an educational game. They didn’t really give any specifications. So I immediately just jumped in and drafted a 12-page proposal for what I thought would be a good game and then they approved it.
9.) What one thing about the CIA experience surprised you the most?
The community. I think because it’s a small school, there’s attention to students. As an orientation leader, vice president of the Student Leadership Council, and president of the Digital Painting Club, I’m very involved with Student Life and Housing. I really appreciate how they care about the students, going way out and beyond for the students. I think the staff and the faculty are really caring.
10.) How do you like Cleveland?
It’s convenient with all the shops in close proximity, as well as the museums, and I really appreciate going to these places that are within walking distance. It’s a different culture here in Uptown.
11.) What would you say to a high school student considering attending CIA?
Be prepared to work hard. You have to put in the hours and work hard and be passionate. Being genuine like that is going to stand out.
Above: Helen Su, left, and her classmate Natilya Ratcliff at the NASA Glenn Research Center where they each served an internship designing educational video games.
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