Tag Archives: Graphic Designer

Animator and Graphic Designer Andrea Mercado honors celebrated YouTubers with new film

As an animator, Andrea Mercado is tasked with bringing characters to life. It is one thing to make a character move, but something entirely different to make it look like it is truly alive. This is where she excels. She appreciates that the character needs to have physicality and transfer feelings to the audience, making sure they are always rooting for the protagonist, no matter how small a story. It is such a deep and thorough understanding of her craft that makes her a formidable leader in her industry, and her passion for what she does is evident in every project she takes on.

Often working on projects that inspire both herself and her audience, Mercado’s work as both an animator and graphic designer has been seen and appreciated by millions around the globe. She finds meaning in what she does with companies like NeuroNet, which manufactures learning software for children, and a recent mobile application she created for pediatricians that allows doctors to quickly find the best dosage of medicine for various conditions. She also helps to tell stories through her animation, whether for the web series Paradigm Spiral or girls video games for Driver Digital.

“I like bringing characters to life. I like knowing that people will see the animations and feel for the characters. More importantly, I like bringing joy into people’s lives, and animation is a nice way of doing that,” she said.

Recently, Mercado also debuted one of her passion projects, the film PINOF Animate! It is a film of her own creation, which features animations from various artists from around the world to recreate, shot by shot, PINOF 9. The reason for this project is to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the PINOF series, created by Mercado’s favorite YouTubers, Daniel Howell and amazingphil.

“We are just a bunch of artists from around the world who really like and admire two British dorks from YouTube,” said Mercado. “The film showcases talent from people from different ethnicities, ages and perspectives. Not all of them are professionals in the field. In fact, some of them are still in middle-school. I even received a message from one of the artists who worked with me, thanking me because now they know animation is something they are really passionate about and that a career in it is an achievable goal. At the end of the day, I think inspiring young people to follow their dreams and create their own projects is the most important thing that has come out of this project,” said Mercado.

Creating PINOF Animate! was the most fun Mercado has had working on any project in her career, but it was also very stressful. She had the opportunity to work with over 30 artists from around the world and before she could assign each of them their shots, she had to group the people based on their experience and quality of work. Advanced animators got longer shots, intermediate animators got shots that were only a few seconds long, and beginner animators got the shortest shots. She also received messages from artists who didn’t know animation but who wanted to join to project, so she gave them a few shots that would work perfectly as illustrated stills.

“Working with Andrea was a very relaxed and easy experience. She was very organized on this project, and kept the collaborators involved frequently updated with full transparency. She demonstrated full understanding if an artist was having trouble meeting their deadline. She also encouraged and supported the idea of artists showcasing to their social media any progress made along the way. I would definitely work with Andrea on any future projects,” said Victoria Putinski, Layout Artist at Wild Kratts Animation Studio who created several shots for the film.

Once PINOF Animate! was completed, Mercado uploaded it to YouTube. It did not take long for Daniel Howell and amazingphil to discover the film and tweet the link, which resulted in hundreds of thousands of viewers who quickly became fans of the unique project. Mercado was touched by such a response.

“It feels incredible. It was stressful and a lot of work, but in the end it paid off. All the fans that watched our video gave us amazing reviews and kept asking if we were going to do another one next year. Some people even emailed me saying they are ready to join the next project, even though I won’t be recruiting new talent until July. And of course, Phil Lester (amazingphil, one of the youtubers), linked our animation in one of his tweets and said it was amazing. Everyone started congratulating us and we felt very validated,” she concluded.

You can watch PINOF Animate! here.

 

Written by Annabelle Lee

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Graphic Designer Suzy van der Velden beautifully captured surf lifestyle for O’Neill

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Designer Suzy van der Velden

Suzy van der Velden was just six years old when her father made her first desk. It was then when her creativity awoke. She could sit at her desk and spend the day drawing whatever came to her. She still does this today, however, it is often for some of the world’s biggest brands.

Van der Velden has quickly become one of the best Dutch graphic designers. She has established herself through her impressive work with Lululemon, Oilily, and more. When working with the internationally successful sporting wear brand O’Neill, van der Velden once again showed the world what she was capable of.

“I wanted to be part of O’Neill because it’s a brand with a rich heritage. Not a lot of brands have a real story, but O’Neill does and it’s a great one. Rooted in surf, it’s founder Jack O’Neill has changed and touched the lives of many by inventing the wetsuit. That mindset of innovation and to see how we can enjoy nature for longer is something that really attracted me to the brand. As an outdoor enthusiast, I love spending time exploring nature and to be part of a brand that views nature as a playground is an amazing thing,” said van der Velden.

While with O’Neill, van der Velden was responsible for all artwork for the Women’s & Girls collection, including swim wear, snow jackets, lifestyle, outerwear and collaborations such as Liberty London. With such a vast range of work, she researched the different categories extensively, looking to find what the best print techniques were, what was suitable for them, and how to push the limits to innovate and what the trends were. With a shift towards craftsmanship in the company, van der Velden was then free to use her creative freedom, producing the high-quality artwork she is known for, which was more expressive and pushed the brand forward. She worked to create an image for each specific product, as well as the brand as a whole.

“For Swim, I would design in a different way than for a Snow jacket so to say. This could have to do with scale, but also the esthetic would differ and use of color. This made the role interesting and never dull. I became a specialist in knowing what was the best way to approach all the different categories,” she described.

Van der Velden’s passion for the brand was evident in each piece of work she produced. She designs with the end customer in the back of her mind, and at O’Neill she gained a strong understanding of the action sport industry and the lifestyle that goes with it. The energy of the board sports, she says, is reflected in the collections, making it a really diverse and fun environment to be in. Van der Velden also travelled frequently for work, and she really got to see how the brand was appreciated beyond just the walls of her office. She immediately noticed the team spirit from those that wear it.

“I loved the fact that the product I worked on gave people the opportunity to enjoy what they loved most. My greatest reward was being able to see my designs come to life and seeing people wear my clothes in all areas around the world,” she said.

It wasn’t just customers that were impressed with what van der Velden produced. She was able to take trends and translate them into her work in a way that made sense for the brand, greatly contributing to its success. She consistently hit the right tone for each specific product, and her artistic instincts were greatly appreciated by all she worked with.

“It was great working with Suzy and I personally really enjoyed it. She was very well respected by the entire team and had an easy yet professional nature. I found that Suzy could bring a graphic story and direction across with natural authenticity and could get people to buy into the big picture with her simple but very educated communication style,” said David Henry, the Global Snow Performance Product Manager and European Accessories Product Manager at O’Neill. “Three words spring to mind when I think of Suzy: easy going, knowledgeable, and professional. Suzy was always on top of things and this gave me confidence that we were on the right track. She was also always open to others point of view and the resulted in meetings that were well balanced. Suzy always brought a sense of calm with sometimes big egos and I really liked that about her.”

Initially, van der Velden wanted to work at O’Neill for the experience, but it quickly became much more than that. As soon as she started working at O’Neill, she knew she wanted to stay a part of the team of young talented individuals with a passion for action sports. Although it was initially a temporary position, van der Velden’s work ethic and talent quickly impressed, and she was offered a permanent spot not long after.

Van der Velden also was inspired by the story of the founder, Jack O’Neill, who invented the wetsuit. This allowed people to surf in all areas of the world that were never able to otherwise. The goal of the company is to ensure people can surf no matter the water temperature. Their mission is ‘to surf longer’. O’Neill is known for its extraordinary athletes that are always pushing the boundaries, causing people to always be engaged to what the brand is going to do next. Van der Velden’s designs captured those ideals perfectly.

“Innovation is in the brands DNA and this makes sure O’Neill is ahead of the game, plus there is always an element of fun keeping it light,” said van der Velden.

The six years van der Velden spent at O’Neill, were in her words, a “blast.” However, it was always the inspiring story of Jack O’Neill that appealed to her, which she describes as timeless.

“Jack O’Neill passed away on the second of June of this year. It’s sad to see such a legend pass away, but I’m grateful for what he has built and that I’ve been able to be a part of the experience in a way,” she concluded.

JIPING LIU: GRAPHIC DESIGNER DELVING DEEP INTO THE HEART OF A FILM

Author: Kelly James

Achieving excellence at your craft may seem like a simple but demanding course. To become recognized as a stand-out among your peers you simply focus on the basics and put in the Malcolm Gladwell prescribed 10,000 hours. While that may help you to master a skill, it doesn’t guarantee that you will become noticed by the industry in which you work. The difference between great and amazing is far more vast than that between good and great. In Hollywood that is exponentially true. Jiping Liu is an accomplished graphic designer with numerous award-winning films to her credit. With experience and consummate skills, she still needed an edge to gain notoriety in Tinseltown, when measured up against so many great artists. Liu is known for going the extra mile and spending time on set in order to get a better sense of the “vibe” or “aura” of a film. While many graphic artists in Hollywood are talented and skilled, it’s Jiping’s willingness to immerse herself in a film, much in the same way that the actors invest themselves, that enables her to bring a more authentic and artistic sense of what the filmmakers want to portray. Beyond the graphics and illustrations which she creates behind the scenes and the ones which the public sees, Liu has created many fans of her work…on both sides of the camera.

Horror films are perhaps more popular than they have ever been in cinema. This prolific presence creates more competition and better films for the audience. It also drives those involved in the genre and industry to challenge themselves to bring better work to the table. Director Thirati Kulyingwattanavitand hired Jiping to work on the film “Kumal” as her graphic artist. Kulyingwattanavitand was aware of Liu’s work and reputation as a graphic artist with fashion photography and also recognized that she had a keen understanding of film. “Kumal” is a story about two young friends who rush into a house after hearing screams, only to realize that there is an expiration date when it comes to being a good Samaritan. As the graphic design supervisor for the film, Jiping did the title and poster design as well as the sketch costume design. She admits that she likes horror films so much that she asked to be involved creating more during the production, in order to get a deeper sense of the story and mood of the film. Liu explains, “I like horror films. I’m a huge fan of The Shining by director Stanley Kubrick and graphics designed by my favorite designer Saul Bass. I feel like every part of that film represents the vision of the filmmaker and I wanted to achieve this for “Kumal.” I helped out with the prop department making old looking maps, I helped out with painting tribal tattoos on the actors, even learning how to create sugar blood for use in the more graphic scenes. I could have just done the storyboards, posters, and the like…but I wanted to dive deeply into this film. I knew that once I did, it would be the fingerprint of the film that came out in my work as the graphic designer for it.”

Thirati Kulyingwattanavitand professes, “Liu is graphic designer with extraordinary abilities… not only the traditional ones. I was incredibly impressed with her desire to understand the heart and essence of the film. ‘Kumal’ was a selection at more than twenty international film festivals and received: the Gold Award of Spotlight Horror Film Awards (2016), Winner of Best Horror of Depth of Field International Film Festival Competition (2016), winner of Best Horror of Los Angeles Independent Film Festival Awards (2016), nominated by Bronze Award of Fameus International Film Festival (2016). Our film was also awarded Best Production Design at the Hollywood International Moving Pictures Film Festival (2016), and nominated at the Independent Horror Movie Awards for Best Atmosphere. These last two awards related specifically to the art department are completely the acknowledgment of Liu’s contributions to Kumal.”

For the film “Emily”, Liu used her graphic design skills with titles and posters again, but also aided the filmmakers with concept drawings and presentation designs for the Greenlight process. Also a horror film, “Emily” is about a husband (John) who abandons his wife (Emily) who dies giving birth at home. After this betrayal, Emily becomes a ghost and seeks revenge on her husband, punishing him in the end. Emily won a host of awards including Best Horror film at the LAIFF and Hollywood Horror Festival. Explaining her approach to the poster art, Jiping reveals, “It’s always the most exciting part, to end my graphic design work by creating a powerful poster on each project. I deeply understand the meaning and emotion for ‘Emily’ after having spent time on set. I created a close up shot of Emily’s worn and bloody hospital gown but I didn’t show Emily’s face. The placement of blood on her clothes insinuated that she gave birth to a baby. The whole frame was mostly on the right side. I used a black and bloody title on the left side, which makes the audience imagine it’s a dark aisle.”

“Locked” is a psychological action film in which a man loses his wife and creates an imaginary world where he fights with himself to save his wife and find the truth of her death. More quick paced action than blood was involved in the story; but there was still plenty of blood. “Locked” was still challenging but provided a welcome work environment for Liu. She states, “This project was challenging, but in the end, I learned and improved a lot from this film. Thanks to director and producer’s trust and confidence in me, I had a lot of room to play and experiment with the design, all on my own. Whatever the costume design and graphic designs, they came out of my heart for this film. I tried my best to use my design works to help tell the story, to deliver the emotion from a designer’s eyes.” The film’s producer Yuxiao Wang was ecstatic about Jiping’s contributions to the film as well as the opportunity to work with Liu. Wang comments, “Jiping Liu was absolutely a top level graphic designer in China. She worked for Tencent which is one of the largest Internet companies as well as the largest gaming company in the world. She is always the ideal lead designer to work with especially when most projects that I produce are a cooperation between China and the United States. I couldn’t find another artist like Liu who deeply understands Chinese culture and traditional art elements as well as western art style. Jiping is the perfect bridge between the two cultures and film industries.”

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As further proof of this, Liu is currently working on three productions: Bee, Armor Hero and Requiem Street which are some of the most ambitious (and expensive) productions in China. These films are set to be global features with Jiping as the lead graphic designer. The buzz around these productions is already swelling and Liu’s placement as lead graphic designer shines an even brighter spotlight on her consummate talent. As the American and Chinese film industries become more cooperative and immersed in each other, it’s artists like Jiping Liu who are ensuring excellence for both.