Senior applies to college as animation major in hopes of broadening artistic perspective

February 12, 2020 — by Selena Liu and Krithi Sankar

Growing up, senior Tiffany Chen always found one aspect of art especially compelling. When she was young, she’d often ask her mother to draw pictures for her, and having come from a family of artists on her father’s side, she saw art as a viable career option. With this artistic influence and childhood passion in mind, she began seriously contemplating a college major in art — animation.

The application process for art and design majors involves crafting an art portfolio throughout high school, meeting earlier deadlines for many schools and submitting their portfolios on an entirely different platform. Chen is currently forming her art portfolios for art and design universities like Carnegie Mellon University, Pratt Institute, ArtCenter College of Design and the University of Southern California, to name a few.

Chen notes that the art school college application process is “a lot to prepare for,” since each school requires a different number of artwork pieces and some schools require pieces specific to a certain major.

“It’s definitely a learning process. Before submitting, you have to come up with different ways to sell yourself to the colleges,” Chen said. “You have to put your artwork in the right order and make sure to put the good ones first, and then you have to give a description for your artwork too.”

Chen said that her best work was a piece for her Rhode Island School of Design portfolio, which required that she make a piece of art out of a portion of the natural world. Chen painted a chicken in her piece, surrounding it with eggshells and small chicks. Then, she painted a background collage of magazines behind the chicken. Chen said that her RISD piece conveys how civilization affects the freedom of animals like chickens, and how rare it is to find cage-free chickens in our modern world.

Chen has been creating her own selection of artwork since the beginning of junior year, after attending the California State Summer School for the Arts (CSSSA), a month-long summer program designed for students interested in multiple areas of visual art, including animation, dance, film, music, theater and writing.

“Everyone at CSSSA was very unique and original, which was mind-boggling,” Chen said. “People had different interests and experimented with different things. Some artists, for example, even used water bottles to paint. In general, there wasn’t really a category of artists; it was just art.”

While she has participated in the school’s art program, Chen said she chose animation as her major mainly because her art teacher outside of school, a former Disney character design artist, inspired her to do so. She also attributes her decision to her participation in the school’s Media Arts Program (MAP). MAP includes more creative projects within a normal English and history curriculum that expose students to multiple visual art skills, such as animation and video editing.

“MAP had a big role in influencing my interest in art because in MAP there was so much you could think about for creativity, so I was able to integrate art into digital projects, which was very interdisciplinary,” Chen said.

Despite the opportunities that MAP has given her, Chen feels that the high school community is more geared toward math and science than toward art. She hopes that she can find more art-focused opportunities and communities in college.

“I hope in university, I can broaden my perspective of art and meet even more artists like me,” Chen said.


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On March 27, members of the Air National Guard converted the Santa Clara County Convention Center to a temporary federal facility for about 250 coronavirus patients. The center is to house those who have tested positive for the virus, but don't require intensive in-hospital care. More information can be found through the local news. Photo courtesy of Randy Vazquez of the Bay Area News Group.


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