Interview with Chien-Tung Chen of Quaaware Ltd.

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Chien-Tung Chen

Chien-Tung Chen, founder of Quaaware Ltd, began his academic path in his home country, studying finance and taxation for a strong business foundation. Seeking broader horizons, he moved to the United States, starting with computer science before discovering a passion for creativity.

1Please give us a brief bio of yourself and your creative background.

My academic journey began in my home country where I pursued studies in finance and taxation, laying a foundational understanding of the business world. Seeking to broaden my horizons, I ventured to the United States with an initial focus on computer science.

This exploration into the realm of technology led me to discover a passion for creativity and design, culminating in a transition to graphic design. My dedication and exploration of the field were recognized with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree in Computer Arts.

Upon returning to my country, I embarked on a diverse professional path across various industries. This eclectic career trajectory has endowed me with a wealth of cross-disciplinary experience and knowledge, enriching my perspective and skill set.

2What made you become/why did you choose to become a creative?

In addressing this question, I must extend my sincerest gratitude to my graphic design mentor, Gwen Amos, from California State University, Sacramento (CSUS).

Under her guidance, I was not merely taught the fundamentals of graphic design; I was transformed into a creative thinker. Her influence profoundly shaped my approach to design, instilling in me the essence of creativity that has become the cornerstone of my work.

3Tell us more about your business/company, job profile, and what you do.

This is a one-person company and I do everything by myself. I know a little bit about recording, a little graphic design, multimedia design, a little programming and a little photography. I also enjoy writing poems and in addition to that, I devoted myself to practicing Chinese calligraphy.

These talents made me what I am today. Although I cover a wide range of fields, when I encounter something that I am not good at, I will know how to learn or cooperate with talents who are more professional than me.

4What does “creativity” mean to you?
To me, creativity means to solve a problem in an extraordinary way.
5To you, what makes a “creative” idea and/or design?
A truly creative idea or design, despite its seemingly simple exterior, is the culmination of extensive research, deep philosophical insights, and thoughtful consideration. It's the result of a designer's ability to distill complex concepts into an elegantly straightforward form that resonates with both clarity and depth
6Tell us about your creative and/or design process.
Researching the related topic is always the first step. Then, after digesting the collected information, I will list a topic range and organize it into more systematically organized materials. The rest would be to let these organized materials speak for the work.
7What's your favorite part of the creative process and why?
Discovering new things holds a special place in my heart; it's undeniably the most enjoyable and cherished aspect of my journey. Each new learning experience brings with it an inherent freshness, a vibrant spark that invigorates the soul with sheer delight!
8Describe your creative style and its main characteristics.
My diverse interests, spanning a broad spectrum of topics and skills, particularly in studying the classics, have shaped my design style. This approach allows me to reinterpret traditional classics through a modern lens, creating a distinctive style that uniquely embodies my personal characteristics.
9Do you think your country and its cultural heritage has an impact on your creativity process?
Certainly, each cultural heritage possesses its unique essence. Through the lens of creativity, the distinct character of every culture is not just highlighted but amplified. Chinese culture, with its rich traditions and philosophical depths, is undoubtedly a prime example of this magnification.
10Congratulations! As the winner of the 2023 MUSE Creative Awards, what does it mean to you and your company and team to receive this award distinction?
Winning the MUSE Creative Awards holds profound significance for me. It serves as a testament to my professional skills as well as meeting and exceeding global standards. Additionally, this recognition affirms my expertise in the eyes of my peers and enhances my credibility among the general public, marking a pivotal milestone in my career.
11Can you explain a bit about the winning work you entered into the 2023 MUSE Creative Awards, and why you chose to enter this project?

I discovered a unique intersection between my country's traditional Chinese characters and the simplified Chinese characters used in mainland China within the realm of cursive calligraphy. This inspired me to propose a unification of texts from the Greater China cultural sphere through the medium of "traditional calligraphy and cursive writing."

To bring heightened attention to this concept, I strategically organized my first solo exhibition to coincide with the conclusion of the presidential election, leveraging the timing to amplify the issue's visibility in a tangible setting. Furthermore, I entered this project into competitions to spark a broader online dialogue and foster greater resonance with a wider audience.

12What was the biggest challenge with this project?

In today's digital age, where computers and smartphones dominate, the art of handwriting is becoming increasingly rare. This shift is further accentuated by the government's "de-Sinicization" policies, leading to the removal of calligraphy from the compulsory curriculum in primary and secondary schools—a stark contrast to the past. Consequently, even among calligraphy aficionados, few venture into the realm of cursive script. Despite the widespread literacy in my country, a paradox emerges: a vast majority are 'cursive illiterate,' unable to read or write in this style.

This project confronts a significant challenge: employing cursive script, a form unfamiliar to most, as a medium of communication and an invitation for people to rediscover and learn this beautiful script. Moreover, the classical poems that form a substantial part of this work necessitate detailed explanations and translations for those accustomed only to contemporary Chinese. This is essential for conveying the intended message of the poster and bridging the gap between ancient art forms and modern audiences.

13How has winning an Award developed your practice/career?
Winning this award has been immensely beneficial to my career, serving as a powerful validation of my intuition and proficiency in graphic design. It not only underscores my capabilities in this field but also significantly enhances my professional credibility.
14What are your top three (3) favorite things about our industry?
Choosing just three favorites is a challenge, given my diverse interests as a cross-disciplinary creator. However, I've decided that Chinese calligraphy stands out as my absolute favorite among them.
15What makes your country specifically, unique in the creative industry?

My country and Hong Kong are unique in the world for their use of traditional Chinese characters, a writing system that allows modern readers to access ancient classics with relative ease, unlike many other writing systems globally.

However, there's a subtle distinction between the two: in my country, Mandarin is the written language, whereas in Hong Kong, written texts often reflect Cantonese vernacular. This use of traditional Chinese not only distinguishes my country and Hong Kong but also celebrates the richness of their cultural heritage, making them stand out uniquely on the global stage.

16Where do you see the evolution of creative industry going over the next 5-10 years?

It’s a tough question to answer. Within the global context of rivalry and collaboration between China and the United States, the creative sector serves as a frontline for each to showcase and disseminate their cultural values. Looking at the creative industry specifically, the mutual flourishing of diverse cultures worldwide has marked an unparalleled journey in recent decades.

Moving forward, the intercultural dialogue between China, the United States, and other nations will transcend military confrontations, emphasizing the power of cultural soft power in bridging divides.

17If you were a student entering this industry or an aspiring MUSE Creative Awards submitter, what advice would you give them?
Learn to hear critical critiques is very important. Treasure those people who are willing to give you authentic critiques. Those words will make people grow.
18Who has inspired you in your life and why?

1. Leonardo da Vinci - the Renaissance man.

2. Steve Jobs - Apple.

3. Bruce Lee - the Kung-fu master who brought Chinese martial art to the West.

4. Lin Yutang - a lot of his books has been translated into English to allow the western world to learn more about Chinese culture.

5. Anastasia – the main character of the “Ringing Cedar” series books. Her legendary story resonated greatly in Russia, prompting President Putin to sign the "Far East One Hectare Land Law." The book has also been translated into many languages, prompting readers of the book to reflect on the relationship between man and nature.

19What is your key to success? Any parting words of wisdom?
Accumulate different kinds of skills. I also believe that the major key law of the universe is the law of cause and effect.
20Do you have anything else you would like to add to the interview?
Peace and love!

Winning Entry

CHIEN-TUNG CHEN Solo Exhibition – eastwalker | 2023

CHIEN-TUNG CHEN Solo Exhibition – eastwalker | Quaaware Ltd.

"CHIEN-TUNG CHEN Solo Exhibition – eastwalker" is scheduled to be launched at Taipei MRT Gallery in the winter of 2023, a life-time first …
(Read more at MUSE Creative Awards)

Chien-Tung Chen

Chien-Tung Chen, founder of Quaaware Ltd, began his academic path in his home country, studying finance and taxation for a strong business foundation. Seeking broader horizons, he moved to the United States, starting with computer science before discovering a passion for creativity.

Read more about this interview with Ahmed bin Baz from Saudi Arabia, the Silver Winner of the 2023 MUSE Creative Awards.