We had the good fortune of connecting with Susan Bin and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Susan, what’s the most difficult decision you’ve ever had to make?
The most difficult decision I’ve ever had to make is one that I think most creatives encounter constantly: it’s the choice and tension between what is better for your career (often in terms of networking and financial stability) and what feels true to your voice and vision. I suspect non-creatives might think the simple solution is to “pay your dues” and build a conventional pathway and a popular base that helps propel you into greater visibility and agency in executive creative decision-making roles. It’s a great strategy, but for creatives who got into visual mediums of story-telling, and especially for those from marginalized communities, it’s not so easy. I’ve found myself so many times having to choose between corporate gigs and centering my efforts on lifting stories and creators that are often denied authority over their own storytelling. I can’t say it has always been the easiest or the best decision, especially when you begin to compare yourself to your peers, but I think upon reflection now, it’s granted me a peace of mind that I am doing what is right for me. Overall, all difficult decisions come down to just believing in your own vision, even when it directly confronts the mainstream ideas of success and popularity.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I like creating art and visual narratives that I don’t see elsewhere. I tend to draw inspiration from animation, movies, folklore, mythology, and horror: I always love the mirror darkly of the stories we tell each other. I do a lot of character sketches, so it’s rewarding when people say there’s life in my drawings. It’s very magical to create an illusion of life. For me, art is a vehicle of empathy, and a way of making the invisible visible. I think Junot Diaz said it best: “You guys know about vampires? … You know, vampires have no reflections in a mirror? There’s this idea that monsters don’t have reflections in a mirror. And what I’ve always thought isn’t that monsters don’t have reflections in a mirror. It’s that if you want to make a human being into a monster, deny them, at the cultural level, any reflection of themselves. And growing up, I felt like a monster in some ways. I didn’t see myself reflected at all. I was like, “Yo, is something wrong with me? That the whole society seems to think that people like me don’t exist?” And part of what inspired me, was this deep desire that before I died, I would make a couple of mirrors. That I would make some mirrors so that kids like me might see themselves reflected back and might not feel so monstrous for it.”
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I love hosting friends, so I’m going to give my usual run-down (please modify this for a Socially Distanced Friendly version!): We are getting Hutchins BBQ when you land. This is non-negotiable. If you’re up for drinks or brunch, Mash’d is on the list, too. Then for a dazzling array of local boba, bakery, and snack shops, we hit up Korea Town in Carrollton and various China Towns (there are too many to name, but my default go-to’s are: 99 Ranch in Frisco & Z. Tao in Plano). Then for some fancier fare, there’s the Food Hall at Legacy West. Ideally, you are visiting Dallas during State Fair season so we can also get our Fletcher’s Corny Dogs. Otherwise, they’re going to be a little bit of a pop-up shop hunt. For more “mom and pop” small businesses, historic architecture, and murals, we’ll head to Frisco Rail District, Downtown McKinney, and Downtown Plano. We’ll make a little trip to Grandscape in The Colony as the sun sets for a change of venue and more locally-made shopping. And I’m BIG on drive-in movies, so we will be booking a movie at the Coyote Drive-In at Fort Worth on Panther Island to end the night.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I am dedicating some love to Women in Animation for their work in making the animation industry more accessible and creating spaces for underrepresented groups. In the same vein, I want to highlight Black N’ Animated for empowering Black students and professionals and creating a community for BIPOC allies. Please join and support these organizations! I would like to personally thank Harvardwood and First Generation Harvard Alumni for my own personal growth. I’ve been involved in Harvardwood since I was an undergraduate, and it really was such a generous program that opened the door to many opportunities; I’ve never felt so indebted to giving back to an organization. FGHA has been a recent development during quarantine as a support group for similar and like-minded individuals who span a wide array of diverse careers to share and discuss professional and personal challenges.
Other: http://yosb.etsy.com http://campsite.bio/yosb