We have a new edition of Nice Humans, and in this installment we’ll be talking with Designer/Animator Yandong “Dino” Qiu. Dino was drawn into a career in animation by the infinite possibilities of animated storytelling, having grown up transfixed by the beauty and imagination present in Chinese mythology, Manga, and Anime. We spoke with him about how Manga has influenced his art, as well as his recent explorations into meditation.
What interested you about meditation?
Its really new to me. I just started a couple of weeks ago. A lot of my friends have gotten into it, and have told me about the visions they’ve experienced. I was very into the idea of that and wanted to try it for myself.
Describe your experience when you’re meditating.
You start with a spell. It can be anything. It’s a visual guide for you to focus on, to hypnotize yourself. The one I used, you begin on a river, and then are supposed to be drawn into a whirlpool. I had an opposite reaction. I felt the experience of flying, and being lifted up. You need to be very sensitive and open to this experience, and when you are, it can be an extremely vivid form of dreaming. We don’t often remember dreams we have at night, but with meditation, we have the opportunity to conjure up our subconscious and I find that’s a useful tool for inspiration.
Have you been drawing the imagery you’ve experienced during meditation?
I have. It has really stirred up my imagination. Meditation allows you to be a more active dreamer. To take control. For instance, within my daydream I saw a puppet, and I visualized a magnifying glass so I could see more detail in the fabric of his clothing.
How did you get into Manga?
My older brother is a hero to me. He was very influential in getting me interested in drawing, and in introducing me to Manga, which is a style of Japanese graphic novels and comic books. He had a book entitled Boy on his desk. I read it and I was instantly hooked. I read Manga almost every day. My iPad has a total of 20 apps on it, and 15 of them are Manga reading apps.
What are some of your favorites?
Boy, that one hooked me and that introduced me to this medium. Doreamon was another one that really inspired me - it’s a very child friendly series. Everyone throughout Asia knows that one. Slam Dunk is a book that was so influential in Asia that a whole generation began to play basketball. It’s about an athlete who is good at every sport he plays, except basketball, but who becomes great at it through hard work and determination. My all-time favorite is Yu Yu Kausho, by Yoshihiro Togashi, who is my favorite artist. Togashi can create a world that’s fantastic yet believable. He doesn’t draw a ton of detail, but his renders are so accurate and full of expression. It almost looks effortless, but his work shows in his storytelling ability.
Do you want to illustrate your own Manga story someday?
Definitely. It’s my dream. That’s why I like being involved in animation and film. It’s all related to drawing, composition, and telling a story. Manga artists can create a world with paper and pen. As a storyteller, you probably have the most control over how the audience will experience your story.
Beyond Manga, what are some recent films, or art that has inspired you?
Johnny Kelly. He’s a commercial director from England. He's super creative, and all of his work is really awesome, especially Coca-Cola “Happiness is Movement,” “Procrastination,” and IOC “Olympic Spirit.”
I also saw Anomalisa recently, which is a stop-motion film written by Charlie Kaufman. I loved that and have been going through his older films. I always underestimate the power of the scriptwriter - you think of the director, the DP, it’s very easy to lose yourself in the visuals, but his style, his creativity is felt strongly throughout his films and that’s a rarity for someone in his position. He’s not loud or obvious in how he writes. He’s subtle, leading you into moments subconsciously, making you think about different aspects of life. That’s something I really appreciate as I explore how to tell my own stories.