By Kelly James
A Graphic Designer has to look at the world differently. If you’ve ever stopped to truly examine their work, you’ll recognize that they take what most of us see as mundane and are able to capture the excitement, beauty, and originality of almost any action or object. They “turn up the volume and color” in our world, often without sound or pigmentation. They allow us to see others and ourselves as we’d like to be seen. The Graphic Designers who practice their vocation in the film industry have a number of tasks and opportunities before them but essentially, they enable visionary filmmakers to manifest the beginning stages of their ideas. Whether by means of storyboards, posters, or any number of creations that the Graphic Designer brings forth, their perspective can be the first or the last images that the public and filmmakers themselves retain about a particular production. Jiping Liu has worked in a variety of genres and cultures as a Graphic Artist with resounding success and recognition. In particular, she is known for getting inside the productions she works on to see how the professionals in the film industry work in order to more accurately and artistically create the images she is praised for. When you know more about Jiping’s background, you begin to understand that her perspective and talent is the product of an artist who has always pursued something bigger.
Jiping always knew what she wanted in life, to be an artist. From the earliest days in her hometown of Shijiazhuang city, China and later when she moved to Beijing…it was always about art. Comics, cartoons, painting…all of these were valid artistic expressions to a young Liu. She recalls her first compulsion to direct her career path to graphic design stating, “I’m pretty sure I decided to become a graphic designer rather than a painter during the first summer holiday in Beijing Jiaotong University. I got an internship offer from an international company. I remember the company’s creative director was sick for two weeks, so I got a chance to work on company’s ongoing APP design called ‘Life Circle.’ I was so excited to work on real projects and they trusted me very much, letting me try to design the ICON and opening page for the APP. It was just a try, but I took it very seriously. To my surprise, the head of company picked my ICON design. In the end, this APP was available to come out on market and many people liked to download and install it. This was my first time feeling that graphic design is graceful and makes people’s life easier, even beautiful.” During Jiping’s third year at University she received an offer from Tencent (one of the largest Internet companies and largest gaming company in the world) to work as a graphic designer. Her work for Tencent included working on several big budget events, designing posters, books, and advertisements for each event. At that time, Liu opened her own personal design shop online. The artist she was already became fused with the modern day opportunities she was being given.
Realizing that her artistic talent and sensibilities could be utilized among a variety of formats, Jiping became interested in the opportunities which the film industry allowed. Serving as graphic designer for the horror film “Kumal”, Liu’s work became visible at such high profile events as the 70th Cannes Film Festival, the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival, and many others. Writer and director Jun Xia had seen Jiping’s work in another film at a screening in Warner Bros Studio (She gives Me Sight) which was graphic designed by Liu. He hired her to be the graphic designer on his film “Emily” which became a multiple award winner
Creating the title design of “Sea of Mirrors”, Jiping chose to use mellow fonts to represent the delicate and beautiful female form of the film’s lead character juxtaposed against sharp edges and corners to represent the darker elements within the film’s story. “Sea of Mirrors” director Thomas Lim says, “Jiping Liu is a graphic designer with extraordinary creativity and skill. Her designs are amongst the best and most unique I’ve seen and her talents are right up there with the best.”
One of Liu’s favorite projects was the work she did for the film “Locked.” The film contains numerous gun battles. Liping used an illustrator style design poster for “Locked.” The colors of the characters on the poster are the same costume color they wore in the movie. She tells, “The size of the budget, big or small, for a film is not the most influential when it comes to design quality. Less can very often be more. More is not always a good thing, big budgets allow you to choose easier and work faster but I find that with a small budget I will spend time to find a way to get the art to work. If you have the skill, you can create quality. Whatever spurs your creativity and brings it out of you is the best.”
The future is not only bright for this graphic designer, it’s also busy. Liu is currently working on a number of projects for Alpha Pictures Inc. Frank Antonelli sought Jiping out and hired her to be the lead graphic designer on three very important upcoming productions; Bee, Armor Hero and Requiem Street. BEE, Armor Hero and Requiem Street were the top 3 popular comics and animations in China. Alpha Pictures Inc. is now developing and adapting these three animations to live-action/global feature films. BEE has 1 billion views on u17.com, a six-episode animated web series released in China and Japan and an action figure line released in 2015. The Requiem Street comic has been published since 2012 and has 2.2 billion views on U17.com. Number 1 Chinese comic in 2016 and twenty-four-episode animated web series released. Requiem Street also has a live-action TV series in production. Armor Hero is based on the top selling toys, Armor Hero is a series of characters on which more than 200 TV episodes and on which two feature films are based. In its eight-year history, Armor Hero has attracted 400 million fans and garnered a 4.8 billion accumulated viewership through video portals in China. The brand generates more than 600 million RMB in toy retail sales per year. The massive popularity and built in audience interest of these three sotrylines bodes extremely well for anticipated box office enthusiasm and returns.
Of all the talents that Liu possesses, the most beneficial may not be the most obvious. As someone who has spent time in both the US and China, as well as possessing an artist’s eye for the film industry, Liu is perfectly suited to further establish the bonds that have become mutually beneficial to both locations. The differences between these two cultures is something which Jiping has always found attractive. She enjoys the experience being caught between the two. She admits, “I received a very good job offer from China last year but I gave it up.
I believe the future of film and TV will be international and global. Nowadays, many Chinese production companies are opening branch offices in Hollywood; they want to corporate and step into Hollywood films. It’s a big trend for the modern film industry. Artists who have different cultural background, art style, and knowledge will be in need. People always say American films are top, to make these films keep shinning there needs to be different cultural elements. Movies play for everyone no matter where you located. That makes me interested in being a Chinese graphic designer in the US, because I want to contribute to this Chinese and American corporation.”