Alexandre Cornet was just a child when he discovered what his passion was. While many children are doodling in class, making stick figures as a distraction, his drawings were much more than that. This innate talent and enjoyment for art gave rise to a career in illustration and design, and he has never looked back.
Cornet’s abilities have led to many achievements throughout his career, and he is sought-after by many companies looking to define the artistic side of their brand. This includes the internationally successful production company CosmoVision Media Group. CosmoVision is a production company that specializes in high-end natural history and factual entertainment, specifically documentaries. Their goal is to make films that spread awareness on environmental issues, and help “heal the planet” as they put it.
“I like CosmoVision’s vision and the important subjects of their work and wanted to be part of it,” said Cornet.
When Cornet was brought on board, CosmoVision did not have an identifiable visual aspect to the brand. He was in charge of creating a logo that would be instantly recognizable to those in the industry.
“It was a great experience, I had never worked for a documentary production company and I had to create a logo that would have some animated version for video credit apparitions. It took some time as I had to create the visual identity from scratch. I had to create a slick and minimal visual identity, adaptive to different mediums and formats,” said Cornet.
When creating the logo, Cornet did not simply begin designing what he thought would work. He wanted to ensure the logo was suitable for the company, so he did his research. He began with several interviews and things started to take shape through the investigation process.
“I researched a lot to create a mood board and then spent a lot of times exploring possibilities sketching on paper, and developing selected ideas until approved. Once determined the idea and concept of the logo began the second phase of the work, which was to create some rules and guidelines, experimenting further for each application, and at last designing the basic printed materials such as letterhead and business card. Good communication and regular feedback made everything possible,” he described.
After conducting his research, Cornet decided to create something subtle and minimalistic, easy and didactic, to fit and emphasize the richness of the content and purpose of CosmoVision’s work. He had his work cut out for him, as the logo had to go into several mediums, such as print animation, and video, and would still work well on a business card. It had to work well being superposed onto moving images. The Idea behind the result is that the shape of the “C” of CosmoVision is eclipsing a circular light, like the moon to the sun, creating a different, unique and displaced “C” shape, bigger and standing out as the initial letter.
“I am happy I helped them to actually define their whole project and to know their satisfaction when they actually saw it in video opening credit use, on top of video sequences and when they printed their business cards and letterheads,” said Cornet.
Cornet has known Jacob Steinberg, the director of CosmoVision, and the art director Paola Saavedra, for some time, and knew of their experience and dedication to their work. It was because of their reputation that Cornet initially decided to take on the project.
“They both have different personalities and are full of stories and inspiring experiences. It has been a great working and learning from each other,” said Cornet.
Steinberg is an Emmy Award Nominated Cinematographer. His work has been screened internationally on television and in festivals. He is the owner and managing director of CosmoVision Media Group, a full-service production company specializing in high-end documentary film for television and cinema. He describes working with Cornet as a great experience.
“Alex was responsive, and took the time to be creative and interact with us throughout the entire process. He managed our feedback very well, ultimately producing a final product that we are extremely satisfied with. Alex’s work represents the face of our company, and we are thrilled with it,” said Steinberg. “Alex is a dedicated creative professional. He manages expectations well from the start, and provides the framework upon which to make progress effectively. He then is patient, giving and receiving his feedback, providing his own inputs simultaneously. He takes the time to really understand his clients’ passions, priorities, and ultimate goals to provide exemplary final work that exceeds expectations.”
Cornet’s vision for CosmoVision has been extremely well-received. You can view his work on the logo on the company’s website here.
With a dazzling visual style, an acute eye for design and a keen ability to overcome unexpected challenges, animator-art director Angela Yu’s boundless technical capacity and artistic creativity are remarkable. Moreover, she has an innate knack for approaching projects with a transformative originality that frequently redefines and improves upon the initially proposed concept.
Yu’s spent her entire life preparing for this, going all the way back to her childhood in Bejing, China. Yu became fascinated by comics, anime and manga books at an early age, covertly defying her parents’ strict bedtime rule to read them by flashlight under her blanket. “I always loved to draw and became obsessed with beautiful things and I wanted to know how to create things like that,” Yu said. “Manga books were my earliest inspiration for drawing—I’d doodle the characters all over my text books. I also loved watching animation, especially Japanese anime—“Dragon Ball” and “Sailor Moon.” I still watch anime these days, such as “One Piece.”
“I grew up in a very traditional family in China, and though I dreamed of being a Manga artist or animator as a kid, I never thought I’d have a chance to do it in reality—because for all my life I had made decisions based on whether or not they would impress my parents,” Yu said. “But when I was 22, I came to America and was studying at Michigan State University, just as my parents planned. This gave me a chance to view my culture from a distance, with a different perspective, and it gave me the space to think independently and the courage to pursue what I really wanted for my own life.”
Once that decision was made, Yu, with an MA in advertising from MSU, did not hesitate. “I studied Motion Graphic Design at the Ex’pression College for Digital Arts. Since I graduated, I’ve worked at studios and agencies such as Goodby Silverstein and Partners, Oddfellows, First person. And I worked on projects for clients like Google, Yahoo, Cisco, Comcase, NBA, Motorola, GE, Adobe.”
“I love telling stories carrying a message that matters to people. It needs to be meaningful. It can be either an artistic short film or a commercial project. As long as I feel what I am creating has a purpose, I find it fulfilling,” Yu said. “It’s all about how strongly I believe in the message I work on, even on a branding video for a digital product. If I believe the message in the video will make a difference to the brand, to people who work for the brand, then I enjoy what I am doing.”
Once Yu brings her talent to bear, the results are impressive. The ability to enhance and elevate has been a hallmark of her career; if Yu is brought in to consult, she’ll envision something that takes the entire project to a higher level; when Yu finishes a task, it often assumes a life of its own, garnering more notice and appreciation than anyone expected, whether a promotional film or a rock music video.
As Dorry Levine, Digital Media Strategist at ReThink Media, describes her: “Angela was easy to work with, very accessible, met every deadline, was flexible with our ever-changing requests, and turned out a phenomenal project that people are still talking about. The video she animated for us was even covered by the New York Times. I’d work with her again in a heartbeat!”
Yu’s artistic vision is a marvel in its own right. Her gorgeous animated short, “This is California,” is a perfect example of the animator’s rich aesthetic. With stunning visual design and flawless animation, it depicts some of the Golden State’s most iconic spots in an arresting, irresistible form that earned Yu the Best Animation award for 2015 at the IndieFEST Film Festival.
Yu’s already impressive roster of successful jobs with some of the world’s biggest companies underscores both her illimitable potential and singular gift for expanding the parameters of any design or animation undertaking. “Angela is the type of person that makes the seasoned artist step up their game, while also reminding everyone what that fire looked like when they first started,” said Mike Landry, Creative Director at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners.
Most importantly, Yu loves what she does: “I see animation as music written in pixels. I don’t play music very well, but I am fortunate to find animation as the medium to express my creativity,” Yu said. “To this day today, I still enjoy spending the whole afternoon nerding out a motion curve in the graphic editor. It is a very ‘zen’ feeling. I enjoy my craft, and I never stop creating original content. I want to keep developing myself as a better animator and designer.”
We recently had the opportunity to sit down and visit with Zi Li, a revered game designer and producer who has helped deliver award-winning titles including “Dissonance,” “Paralect,” “MiraLab,” “Dungeon Crash” and “Epic Knights.” Shining in both PC and mobile platforms, Li has also engaged her talents for the award-winning “Leviathan” virtual reality project and for the short films, “The Birthday Girl” and “Fly.”
Li, a Guangdong, China native, has a well-founded background for the field. She received a Bachelor of Engineering degree in Digital Media from Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications, and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Interactive Media & Games from the University of Southern California.
Dispatching her design brilliance, Li has been instrumental in the development, design and execution of cognitive puzzle games, fantasy RPGs and adventure games. She works with Firefly Games Inc., that operates offices in both Shanghai and Los Angeles, and had prior stints with Digital Domain 3.0 Inc., Floor 84 Game Studio and Ericsson Communications.
Li has constructed a standout career with a formula comprised of artistic creativity, engineering ingenuity and a command of computer programming and design principals. We are excited to share her story below in our exclusive interview!
What was it like to grow up and live in Guangdong?
ZL: To be honest it was kind of boring. I grew up in a middle city. Its economy is okay to maintain people’s basic needs. But we don’t have much to do. People are very chilled and always have morning tea, afternoon tea and night tea. Being chilled and relaxed is not in my nature. I always want to go to other places and see what is exciting and creative. I guess that’s why I am here making games.
What games did you grow up playing?
ZL: I did not grow up playing games. My parents were very strict when I was young. They don’t allow me to access to anything that could make me feel addictive. I was learning painting and into manga when I was a child. I always wanted to do art.
Unlike a lot of game developers, I didn’t fall in love with games first. I have particular types of games I like. I love visual art and engineer first and then found games that express meanings and allow me to feel smart when I am playing are very attractive. That’s why I get into game industry.
What drove you to pursue a career in game design?
ZL: I would say I’m driven by the idea of communicating thoughts through art pieces. For me game is art. Game designers are the same as other artists.
I was good at science related fields when I was a kid. I thought my ability is enough support me to become an engineer in the future. On the other hand, I spent more than 6 years studying paintings until high school. I always thought I could become a part time artist. I did an animation later. I found that doesn’t satisfy my needs of expressing my engineering mindset.
Later, I got clearer that in the field that science intersects with art is what I’m really passionate about.
For me, games is a media that allows both science and art collapse together.
What is your favorite game genre?
ZL: Puzzle. I like games that can make me think and use my logic.
What are your top three favorite games all-time?
ZL: Braid, Machinarium, Windosill.
How would you describe your job as a game designer and producer?
ZL: My job includes a wide range of tasks. As a producer, I work with different teams and communicate with each team about their perspective of the game. Also, because I’m a game designer, I also work on game design decisions and help with correcting the game development direction.
What does it take to be a successful game designer?
ZL: I think a good game designer should be innovative, open-minded, and passionate. Other skills will come along as long as the game designer knows what he or she wants.
How did your academic career help shape your professional career?
ZL: I got an engineering degree in Digital Media. We learned lots of basic knowledge about films, animation and games. I learned how to program and work on cinematic pieces during my study in the Digital Media Department. I found my passion in films and games by trying out various media.
Then I went to graduate school for Interactive Media and Games. I was majoring in game design. I knew that this program is not only limited in traditional games. It matches what I want out of games. So I started as a game design student in the industry and gradually figured out my strength. I was involved in various games projects and learned different skills, like design methodology, cinematic expression and so on. They definitely help me to become a game designer and producer.
“Dissonance,” for PC, won the Indie Prize and the Experimental Game Showcase at the Out of Index Festival. Tell us a little bit about it.
ZL: Dissonance is a puzzle-adventure game developed by Team Dissonance. I created Dissonance as a bridge between puzzle games and a psychology concept cognitive dissonance. It started as my personal project. With six months development, the team has expanded to over 10 people. The developers transmitted the psychological concept cognitive dissonance into the core mechanics of game to make it more than just a puzzle game.
What place do puzzle and psychology games have in today’s gaming market?
ZL: Puzzle games are always popular. But I don’t see many games combining puzzle and psychology together. I think as one of the art media, comparing to other media, video games are still new and have lots of potential. Hopefully it will be growing and explored the usage in different areas.
The fantasy RPG – “Dungeon Crash” – has over one million downloads for Android and Apple. How would you describe the game and what’s made it such a success?
ZL: Dungeon Crash is a fun and adorable game which has playful battles accompanied by strategic role-playing elements.
The gameplay is deep and fun. Players always have the next goal in the game. The main goal of the game is to collect the best team of warriors, mages and healers. When a player is trying to work towards the main goal, he or she can balances other elements like gear, upgrade system, guild and so on. There are numerous things a player can do. Each person has their unique way to get close to the goal. Also they can show off their progress through fight against other players to get to the top position on the leaderboard.
Share with us a little on your background in art and how that’s helped shape you as a game designer.
ZL: At the place I grew up, my life contains 3 major activities: taking regular classes, painting and notebook shopping in bookstores (I collected notebooks when I was younger). Like I mentioned earlier, I spent 6 years studying painting. Also, my dad loves poets and calligraphy. He loves sharing them with me. I think this type of environment helps to build my aesthetic standards, creativity and cultivates my passion in arts.
I do think game design is a pretty flexible area. A lot of times, game designers need to make decisions with their aesthetic and design sense. Those things are very abstract and hard to grow in a short term. I’m glad that I grew up with practicing my aesthetic consciousness.
You contributed to the art that’s featured in the PC game, “Paralect.” What is the premise of “Paralect” and how did you enjoy working as an artist for the game?
ZL: Paralect is a 2D platformer that uses gameplay, visuals and narrative to tell a personal story of cultural un-rooting. It explores the paradigm shifts caused by culture shock and adaptation and investigates how those transformations affect one’s vision of people, their environment, the place you initially came from and, most importantly, the place you wish to call home. It is a story and a world inspired by the creative director Loan Verneau.
I had great time working Paralect. I like the concept a lot. I think the protagonist reminds me a lot of myself. I feel attached to the character. The game is programmed with C++, so all the art asset needs to be designed carefully. Loan and I spent time together figuring out how to interpret the design through programmed visual elements. It is great that I got to apply what I know into the game and learning new ways to express ideas in games at the same time. It also helps me to grow and build up experience to make my independent games.
“MiraLab” went on to win the Gold Award in the Education Category at the Serious Play Conference. Was the educational aspect a motivator for the Miralab team in creating the “MiraLab” concept?
ZL: The world in Miralab is a media arts world and accompanying design methodology that emerged out of a multi-faceted exploration of a naturally occurring biological process: the lifecycle of Turritopsis dohrnii, the immortal jellyfish. The biological structure acts as a contextual framing, research prompt, and unifying theme that generates multiple interdisciplinary arts and science media explorations. It foregrounds knowledge and outcomes associated with arts and design practice experimentation within the realm of interdisciplinary arts science research. It asserts how the unique potential arts practice engagement contributes to interdisciplinary learning. This abstract briefly describes each mode of exploration and contextualizes it within a larger poetic science methodology. It considers this methodology’s contribution to a new understanding of interdisciplinary arts science research centered in transmedia design principles.
That said, the “Leviathan” project you worked on implements some VR along with other components. What’s “Leviathan” all about?
ZL: The Leviathan project, based on Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan trilogy, takes place in 1895, 20 years prior to the source material. In Westerfeld’s story, World War I is reimagined with bioengineered fabricated animals replacing technology and facing off against large mechanical robots. While the books focus on the tension of war, the Leviathan Project emphasizes the experimental exploration in the concept of fabrication. By taking place earlier than the series, the project builds a world of wonder and amazement for the unknown and the unexpected possibilities that can suddenly arise.
“Leviathan” received the New Frontier Project award at the Sundance Film Festival and was featured at CES in Las Vegas. What were the responses and feedback you guys got on the project?
ZL: Players are amazed by what Leviathan offers. In the Leviathan project, we adapt the techniques that can track the player position in a room. So what players need to do is put on the headset and walk around in the room. It is simple and intuitive.
They love that they can walk around in the Leviathan world and observe the world and the stories as an officer. They can get immersive experience while creating their own version of story.
What opportunities does your role as producer allow for at Firefly Games?
ZL: As a producer, I get the chance of communicating with each team and overseeing the project I’m responsible for. Also, I have been communicating with other producers from other projects to share our experiences and tools. I have lots of practice in project management, negotiation and various problem-solving skills.
What can gamers expect to get from Firefly releases?
ZL: Firefly Games focuses on the games that are intuitive and fun for mobile gamers. We have three games out there and are developing more games. Hopefully players can find that our games are fun and relaxing.
What are some of your hobbies outside of the gaming realm?
ZL: I like reading books and watching animated films. These two media can always offer me endless inspiration. Currently, I’m reading a book called The Hero with a Thousand Faces.
What types of games are you looking forward to designing and producing in the future?
ZL: As an artist, I hope one day I can make a game that offers players a unique experience in a way that they reach part of the mind they have never explored before. I always have fun knowing myself and learning about myself. I find it fascinating that a lot of us don’t know ourselves very well. And a lot of art pieces help us. For example, the pilot in The Little Prince does help me to see that I’m just like him. He wants to be a painter, not a pilot. And I’m a person who always wants to be an artist instead of an engineer. I hope people can try the game and then say ‘This game is affecting me. I never knew that I’m a person like that.’
The accomplished art director, M. Cagri Kara, has established himself as a valuable talent in the advertising industry, and is known for his brilliant, visually stunning work with brands such as Audi, Lamborghini, Frito-Lay, FOX Television, Yamaha and Coca-Cola.
Kara’s art direction was on full impressive display with an ad campaign celebrating the Coca-Cola Company’s 50th Anniversary in Turkey.
The campaign advertised the global beverage corporation, which was founded in Georgia in 1892, and was aimed at representing the special Turkish way of optimism. The prints changed the spelling and logotype of the iconic soft drink to Koka-Kola to befit the brand’s pronunciation and spelling to Turkey’s vernacular.
The campaign’s theme encompasses security, positive tolerance and the healthy concept of living in the moment opposed to remaining stuck in the past. The ideas of optimism were linked with the Cocoa-Cola philosophy of promoting happiness, and ultimately reached the targeted Turkish audience with great success.
“The campaign’s message was clear. I didn’t want to use too many graphic elements for the print version, or in the television commercial,” said Kara. “Instead, we opted to use optimistic Turkish words that were positive, clear and strong, as in the word ‘mutluluk,’ which means ‘happiness’ in Turkish.”
KARPAT, a leading independent advertising agency in Istanbul, produced the campaign. KARPAT’s Creative Chairman, Karpat Polat, said, “Cagri was undeniably a lead contributor to the success of our company and in particular, the Coca-Cola 50th Anniversary commercial campaign.”
Prior to hiring Kara at KARPAT, the pair worked together at DDB&Co. Istanbul Group, where Polat served as President and Chief Creative Officer, and Kara, as an art director.
“From the inception of the Coca-Cola project to its completion, he [Kara] was fully attentive and engaged throughout the process, producing fantastic results day after day that led the campaign to wide acclaim and roaring success,” Polat stated.
The Coca-Cola advertisements were shown on live TV and spanned billboards, bus shelter ads and print ads featured in many magazines, each emphasizing Coca-Cola’s trademark and their stand-out color, red.
“Coca-Cola’s red is already a pretty strong reminder for the brand,” Kara said. “Because of method, our point became very clear. Instead of being overly descriptive, we only used Coca-Cola’s iconic red, their very recognizable cans with the letter ‘K,’ and the positive, optimistic words to work for us. In this case, less was very much more.”
Kara’s work on the Coca-Cola 50th Anniversary campaign was immediately well received, earning him the distinguished 2014 Crystal Apple Award for Best Integrated Campaign for his work.
Regarding this achievement, Polat explained, “This is an enormous honor, even for an art director of Cagri’s caliber. I can positively state that we could never have achieved this without his leading expertise and creative vision.”
In addition to Kara’s success with the Coca-Cola campaign, the prestigious art director has also been awarded a Crystal Apple Award for Most Creative Social Media Campaign for his work with the cosmetic brand Polisan, and the Cannes Lions Bronze Award from Finansbank’s “Evolution,” a 2013 Cannes Finalist.
“As his multitude of impressive credits clearly indicates, M. Cagri Kara is among the most sought after and prolific art directors working today. His aptitude for visual design and aesthetics is second to none, and his instincts for delivering the best work possible for a given project position him as a formidable talent nationally and internationally,” Polat said.
In today’s world, the term “artist” is used rather loosely. Virtually anyone who has ever picked up a pen, brush or guitar is free to describe him or herself as an artist. Some however, possess an indisputable acumen for more than just aesthetics and are able to use the craft for its original intent. A visual storyteller, Katie Bright is one of these true artists. Her strikingly visceral works are seeped in both beauty and symbolism – the marks of true artistic masterpieces – and continue to grow in popularity among collectors and galleries alike.
Bright specializes in the fantastical, and her art is right at home on the other side of the rabbit hole. Much of her work features familiar characters from fairy tales like “Little Red Riding Hood” and Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” and she has a rare gift for reimagining classic childhood fables from a more mature and often darker perspective.
“Fairy tales were the first stories to capture my imagination as a child,” Bright recalled. “They are a combination of morals with a touch of mystical and supernatural elements that propel the creativity.”
Bright, or Miss Brightside as she is known professionally, kicked off her career with a bang. The first time her work appeared in a gallery was at aMBUSH in Sydney, Australia, and was aptly publicized as an extravaganza, rather than as an exhibit or installation. The pieces on display exemplified the unique fairy-tale-gone-bad style that she has continued to cultivate, and which has become her trademark in the years since. Snow White, Tinkerbell and the Queen of Hearts are among characters depicted in Bright’s often hyper-sexualized scenes.
“From an adult perspective, fairy tales have a whole darker element. In particular, from a scholar’s level, the unraveling of the encrypted symbolism is prolific,” she said. “I found I had a division between my childhood ideals and existence in an adult sexualized society. For this reason I began entwining and reworking fairy tales within my artwork.”
It’s a recurring theme, which Bright employs as a deliberately eye-catching metaphor for the dichotomy between childhood innocence and the expectations subconsciously placed on the children who grow up hearing those fables. The images used at aMBUSH were primarily screen printed on mirrors, and in tandem with Bright’s careful selection and placement of lighting, attendees were transported through the looking glass to a world of her invention. Her use of color in prints such as “Some Day My Prince Will Come” and “If I Had a World of My Own, Everything Would be Nonsense” is mesmerizing; an array of prime reds and blues and yellows, starkly contrasted with ominous black and white backdrops, with the shimmering surfaces of the mirrors serving to further capture viewers’ attentions and imaginations.
“It was more than an art show; it was a whole visual feast and a circus production. I made and curated 102 artworks, we had two pole dancers, a contortionist, dwarves dressed as cupids, two bands, a DJ, a film crew and press,” said Bright, describing just how extravagant the whole affair was. “The major alcohol sponsor was an absinthe brand, which supplied a mixologist who made ‘Love Potion’ cocktails, two women dressed as green fairies and two topless male waiters working the bar.”
The massive event, launched on Valentine’s Day 2012, was Bright’s first solo show and a watershed moment for her. Its opening night saw more than 1,000 people in attendance, and both inspired her and established her in the incredibly competitive field. Since the success of that first exhibit, Bright has organized several other huge art-and-culture events, including one in Swindon, England in early 2015. Working with Harris + Hoole Coffee, she took it upon herself to propose, plan, organize and ultimately produce a huge event for the company.
“The event I coordinated turned into a 3.5-mile radius tour of three artisan coffee stores that have opened in the last year. My concept was Love Coffee for Valentines Day,” Bright said. “I liaised with three venues, arranged sponsorship, wrote copy, designed promotional material, illustrated the map, logo and branding, filmed and edited a promo video and created a website. In addition to the tour I orchestrated Creatively Made In Swindon. An art and design exhibition displayed over the three venues during the Love Coffee Tour, which continued into March. For the exhibition I collaborated with seven local artists to curate and install the show.”
Currently, the extraordinary Miss Brightside is wrapping up work on a series of interior visual designs for the luxury hotel Surftides Lincoln City in Oregon. Asked to create a design based on a unique fairy tale, Bright chose to write her own, “Atargatis.” A brilliant show of her unlimited, cross-media creative talent, “Atargatis” tells the story of a mythical beauty, a girl who can transform into anything. But in so doing, the girl retains conflicting features of both bird and mermaid and realizes she has lost herself and become something unrecognizable and unsustainable.
“When creating the wallpaper design I wanted it to have a moral. This quote from Thich Nhat Hahn encapsulates the meaning behind the fairy tale of Atargatis — ‘Changing is not just changing the things on the outside of us. First of all we need the right view that transcends all notions including of being and non-being, creator and creature, mind and spirit. That kind of insight is crucial for transformation and healing,’” Bright said of her inspiration. “After I created the fairy tale based on the Thich Nhat Hahn quote, the illustration element was straightforward; I just illustrated the story.”
The results are as beautiful as they are imaginative. The gorgeous series of scenes tell the tragic tale of Atargatis, and in such a way that they would be just as suited for a children’s book as they are in this luxury beachfront locale.
Bright’s ability to accentuate and illustrate the darker undertones of familiar stories has made her an international sensation in the art world. Followers of her work will be excited to hear that she is currently planning for her next solo exhibition, tentatively scheduled for early 2016. A visionary master of storytelling through imagination, illustration, creation and design, Bright certainly lives up to her name and will never cease aweing viewers with her work.
International Entertainment, and the Talents that Leave us Buzzing….