Jenny Jiao Hsia


Jenny Jiao Hsia

Who are you, and what do you do?

Hi, my name is Jenny Jiao Hsia and I'm an independent game developer based in Brooklyn, NY. In 2014, I collaborated with AP Thomson on a small game about smooching and loneliness in space. The following year, we worked together again and released a game about computers, magic, and insecurity.

Some of my solo projects include games about doing your makeup in 10 seconds or less, putting a noodle-limbed through a serious yoga workout, and feeding your hungry buddy on a date!

When I'm not making games, I like prototyping with microcontrollers and sewing plush dolls called Bedtime Buddies.

What hardware do you use?

I use a 13-inch MacBook Pro (early 2015) to make my games. My computer isn't equipped with a lot of storage space, so I keep my files on a portable external hard drive. For drawing, I use a small Wacom tablet and this mouse — it's cheap, but reliable… and I really like how it fits in my hand.

I always carry a notebook with me so I can jot down ideas and designs wherever I go. I really like how the pages are dotted instead of gridded. It provides enough of a guide to draw in straight lines, but doesn't constrain me too much if I want to scribble freely. I using pens instead of pencils, and this one is my favorite to write with!

For non-digital crafting, I've been using this small sewing machine from Janome. It doesn't come with a lot of fancy buttons or options, but this basic model gets the job done for me. I like the color and size a lot, but I wish it could handle thicker fabrics. Sometimes it even chugs a bit. If you're a beginner to sewing and you're looking for something fun to play around with — I would recommend it. However you might want to make an investment and upgrade to something sturdier if you're looking for a machine for long-term use.

I find a lot of my textiles from the thrift store — I'd recommend checking out the curtains and blankets because you get a lot of quality fabric for a really low price. Just throw them in the wash before cutting and sewing with them! I pick up my other materials (like embroidery thread, buttons, ribbon, beads, key rings, etc.) at Flying Tiger and Michael's. It's fun to browse those stores because you can find really neat materials that will add a lot of character.

I've been using a Makey Makey to prototype the hardware portion of my controllers and I create the final version with a FLORA microcontroller and conductive thread. I'd recommend checking Tinkersphere and Adafruit if you're looking for more sewable electronic parts.

I take photos using an iPhone 6S and my workspace consists of a small IKEA table and one of those heavy-duty folding chairs from Costco.

And what software?

I use Unity to make games and Bitbucket for source control. For art, I make 2D assets in Photoshop and 3D models in Maya. I edit sound effects in Audition and I record gameplay footage with QuickTime Player and Soundflower. Sometimes I use LICEcap to capture gifs — the framerate can end up looking sort of choppy and slow, so I will occasionally resort to Photoshop to create better quality gifs. I use Google Drive on a regular basis, and recently I've been experimenting with the Arduino IDE. My favorite app to edit photos with on my phone is VSCO and I like doodling on these pictures with Facebook's Messenger app.

What would be your dream setup?

My dream setup would include a big sturdy desk, a nice comfy chair, an enormous bulletin board, a more serious and robust sewing machine, a powerful Mac Pro with tons of storage, and a couple of extra monitors!


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Jenny Odell


Jenny Odell

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm Jenny Odell, and I used to call myself a digital artist, but I think I might actually be a conceptual artist. I'm based in Oakland and I teach art at Stanford.

What hardware do you use?

Because I seem to spend 80% of my life commuting on public transportation, I have all my stuff inconsistently synced among my computer, my school computer, and my computer at Facebook (where I'm an artist in residence right now) – all MacBook Pros. Wherever my studio happens to be at the moment, I keep a 22" Cintiq monitor to cut things out on. I also have a regular Wacom tablet that travels with me when necessary.

At home, I have a big, cheap Dell external monitor only because I tend to have a million windows open at the same time. I use an Apple Magic Mouse I found at the dump and which connects to my computer as "Laura's Mouse." I also rely on a pair of Bose noise canceling headphones my dad gave me six or seven years ago that have been slowly falling apart. Currently the foam is exploding out of the left ear, but as long as I can still smush them against my head, I will wear them.

To take pictures (usually of trash, as part of The Bureau of Suspended Objects), I use a Canon EOS Digital Rebel, a Sunpak tripod, and some unglamorous box lights. To type up the Bureau's research, I use an electric blue Royal manual typewriter from the 1960s that was recently brought back from the brink by the only typewriter repair shop in the South Bay.

At Facebook, I've been using a risograph machine, sort of like a cross between a photocopying and screen printing, since you can only do one color at a time. Someone told me the other day that it's so named because "Riso" means "ideal" in Japanese, but that seems hard to believe after wrangling with the printer's mysterious needs and requests.
Lastly, I want to give a shout out to my very satisfying Alvin Draf-Tec 0.5mm mechanical pencil, which I use with a regular black spiral bound notebook.

And what software?

Photoshop is my mainstay, for cutting things out and making animated GIFs. I use InDesign to make books sometimes. I've played around in p5 a a bit, and lately I've been rendering some 3D blobs in Blender. I use Dropbox to (attempt to) sync things among my several computers. I often give talks that have a lot of GIFs and videos, so Keynote's been useful.

What would be your dream setup?

My friend and fellow artist Liat Berdugo recently observed that screens "ask the body to be fixed in space"; my teaching mentor Camille Utterback has also noted that digital interfaces aren't very generous or forgiving to the human body. Basically, my dream setup exists in the far (or maybe not so far?) future, where I don't have to sit crouched in a vise-like position, poking and clicking at things all day. Is there a way to make digital art by running around outside and doing cartwheels? I really hope so.


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