Interview with Hanyu Mu from United States

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Hanyu Mu

Hanyu Mu is an illustrator and animator based in Atlanta. Their work is firmly grounded in the art of storytelling and emotional expression, with a focus on crafting immersive narratives that forge deep connections with viewers.

Interview with the 2023 MUSE Creative Awards Winner -
Hanyu Mu

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

I am Hanyu Mu, an illustrator and animator originally from Beijing, China and is currently residing in Atlanta. My artistic journey is diverse, spanning various media, including illustration, traditional painting, 2D animation, and storyboarding. My work is deeply rooted in storytelling and emotions, aiming to create immersive narratives that establish profound connections with the audience.

I strive for mastery of the visual language and seek to infuse boundless imagination into my creations. By employing digital tools, I broaden the horizons of my creative process, crafting captivating visual experiences that evoke deep emotions in the viewers. My art focuses on self-expression and visual storytelling, capturing fleeting yet poignant moments and inviting the audience to embark on imaginative journeys with me.

The narrative essence of my work is one of its defining characteristics as I strive to create a singular domain of imagery through my expressive desires and command of visual language. Each piece I produce aims to evoke and communicate emotion, immersing the audience in my imaginative universe which is frequently filled with vivid elements. I express my thoughts, emotions, and unique interpretations of the world around us through my creations.

In today's thriving digital environment, I have the flexibility and freedom to experiment with various techniques and approaches. This technological platform enables me to stretch the limits of artistic expression, continually challenging myself to create emotionally resonant works of art that are visually arresting. My artistic journey is guided by unwavering determination, aimed at constructing a distinctive realm of imagery, conveying profound emotions, and unleashing my boundless imagination. This commitment inspires my future endeavors and motivates my creative exploration.

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

Since early childhood, I've had a passion for drawing and art which allowed me to express myself and release my imagination. Growing up, I was exposed to numerous forms of art, including anime and manga from Japan, Europe, and the United States. This experience broadened my perspective and inspired my interest in animation, video games, and illustration. I was mesmerized by the ability of visual storytelling to transport audiences to various worlds and emotions.

My journey led me to study animation in college, where I discovered my preferred art style and realized I desired to be closer to the artistic community I admired. I continued my education in illustration because I believed it would enable me to incorporate more aesthetic elements into animation and storytelling.

My decision to become creative was ultimately motivated by a mixture of passion and a desire to share my distinct perspective and feelings with the world. Art has the remarkable ability to resonate with others, and I wanted to be part of that process, creating work that could elicit emotions, inspire, and offer a sense of escape to those who experience it.

3Tell us more about your business/company, job profile, and what you do.
My work focuses primarily on visual art creation, with concentration on illustration and animation. I create works of art that convey narratives and elicit emotions. My work consists of illustrations for a range of purposes, 2D animations, and storyboarding. I use digital tools to enhance my creative process, allowing me to experiment with various approaches and methods. Through my art, I intend to transport viewers on imaginative excursions.
4What does “creativity” mean to you?
For me, creativity is the capacity to transform thoughts, feelings, and ideas into tangible expressions that resonate with others. It is a limitless realm where imagination and skill collide, allowing me to construct narratives, evoke emotions, and invite viewers to participate in one-of-a-kind visual experiences. It is an endless source of exploration and self-expression.
5To you, what makes a “creative” idea and/or design?
My opinion is that a "creative" idea or design is not only original, but also effectively conveys a concept, emotion, or story. It departs from conventions and offers a fresh perspective or solution to a problem. It possesses a balance between innovation and functionality, attracting attention and leaving an enduring impression while accomplishing its intended function. In design, creativity involves achieving a delicate balance between novelty and functionality.
6Tell us about your creative and/or design process.
My creative process begins with a thorough examination of the idea or feeling I wish to convey. I conduct research, generate ideas, and sketch to refine the concept. I then select the medium and design that best complement the message. Digital tools are frequently utilized for their adaptability. I create, iterate, and refine while paying close attention to the smallest of details. Peer and audience feedback is invaluable. The final product is a collection of narrative-driven visuals intended to elicit emotion and communicate my unique perspective.
7What's your favorite part of the creative process and why?
My favorite part of the creative process is when the initial idea begins to take physical form. When the artist's imagination meets the canvas, the work of art begins to convey the intended message or emotion. This stage is exciting as it brings the idea to life, establishing the tone for the entire piece.
8Describe your creative style and its main characteristics.
My artistic style is characterized by a combination of fantastical and narrative elements. My objective is to convey emotions and narrate tales through my artwork. Notable characteristics include meticulous attention to detail, the use of vibrant colors, and a commitment to evoking emotional responses from the audience. I appreciate combining elements of realism with touches of fantasy, unrestricted by subject matter but rather driven by mood or conceptual exploration.
9Do you think your country and its cultural heritage has an impact on your creativity process?

Without a doubt, my country of origin and its rich cultural heritage have a profound influence on my creative process. They serve as a wellspring of inspiration, imbuing my work with distinctive perspectives, themes, and storytelling elements that are deeply rooted in my cultural background.

The traditions, history, art, and customs of my homeland provide a unique lens through which I view the world and interpret my artistic visions. This cultural connection not only adds depth and authenticity to my creations but also allows me to bring a piece of my heritage to a global audience, fostering a greater understanding and appreciation of diverse cultures through my art.

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 2023 MUSE Creative Awards is a major accomplishment in my professional life. It's an acknowledgement of my artistic vision and effort!
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?
‘Good Morning’ is based on my own childhood memories and reflects my comprehension of childhood fears. It is a visual story that conveys the essence of human emotions and experiences. This initiative allowed me to fully express my creativity and convey a profound message through art, so I decided to participate. This award reaffirms the strength of visual storytelling and inspires me to continue stretching artistic boundaries with my work.
12What was the biggest challenge with this project?
The most difficult aspect of the "Good Morning" project was effectively communicating the complex emotions associated with childhood phobias while considering how to generate emotional resonance through the interaction of various picture factors.
13How has winning an Award developed your practice/career?
It has substantially advanced my career as an artist. It has provided recognition and validation for my creative work which is invaluable in the art and design industry. It was a turning point in my career, inspiring me to continue stretching the limits of my artistic expression.
14What are your top three (3) favorite things about our industry?
Freedom, unique and innovation.
15What makes your country specifically, unique in the creative industry?
I believe that creativity is not limited by one's heritage or country of origin. However, the personal experiences molded by various backgrounds serve as a limitless source of inspiration and hidden creative desires.
16Where do you see the evolution of creative industry going over the next 5-10 years?
I anticipate that the creative industry will continue to encounter significant digital transformation over the next 5 to 10 years. From virtual reality art experiences to AI-assisted design tools, technology will play an even greater role in aesthetic creation and presentation.
17If you were a student entering this industry or an aspiring MUSE Creative Awards submitter, what advice would you give them?
Embrace uniqueness, never stop learning, network, accept criticism, persevere, strike a balance between passion and realism, and never stop pursuing inspiration.
18What resources would you recommend to someone who wants to improve their skills in the creative industry?
Explore online art courses, engage in daily practice, study art literature, seek out mentors, and join art communities. Never pass up a chance to better yourself or draw inspiration.
19Tell us something you have never told anyone else.
It is common to be confused and I understand how difficult it can be to avoid comparing yourself to others. However, the only valid comparison is always with your prior self.
20Who has inspired you in your life and why?

I draw inspiration and knowledge from a diverse array of exceptionally talented individuals, but two artists who hold a special place in my heart are Matsumoto Taiyo and Amano Yoshitaka:

Matsumoto Taiyo: Renowned for his iconic manga and artistry, with notable works like "Sunny" and "Tekkon Kinkreet," Matsumoto Taiyo's impact on me has been profound. His remarkable ability to weave intricate narratives and breathe life into emotionally resonant characters through his illustrations is a perpetual wellspring of inspiration. It's in his firm artistic foundation and relaxed brushstrokes that I find myself captivated, each encounter with his creations compelling me to linger, reluctant to depart.

Amano Yoshitaka: Amano Yoshitaka's ethereal and intricate illustrations, particularly in the "Final Fantasy" series and "Vampire Hunter D," have etched a lasting impression on my artistic sensibilities. His distinct fusion of meticulous linework and dreamlike atmospheres has indelibly influenced my approach to crafting fantastical realms.

These artistic luminaries have indubitably left an indelible mark on the realm of art and illustration. Their enduring impact serves as an enduring source of motivation for me, driving me to consistently explore the outer limits of my creative potential. Through their distinct styles and storytelling techniques, my goal is to continuously evolve and refine my own artistic voice.

21What is your key to success? Any parting words of wisdom?

I hold the belief that success is a concept in constant flux, a dynamic journey rather than a fixed destination. It involves an ongoing process of self-improvement and creative development. The primary competition we face is with our past selves, a perpetual endeavor to exceed our previous accomplishments.

To nurture this quest, it's crucial to maintain a sense of curiosity, remain true to our artistic identity, and unwaveringly chase our creative ambitions. Success is an ever-evolving expedition, and the true essence lies in wholeheartedly embracing this continuous voyage.

22Do you have anything else you would like to add to the interview?
I am grateful to the MUSE Creative Awards for providing a platform that recognizes and celebrates creative excellence. This award is a significant affirmation of my work, and I'm grateful for the chance to share my artistic journey with a wider audience. Thank you for your encouragement and support!

Winning Entry

Good Morning | 2023

Good Morning | Hanyu Mu
Good Morning was inspired by my childhood, which is an animated background design based on a short story ...
(Read more at MUSE Creative Awards)

Hanyu Mu

Hanyu Mu is an illustrator and animator based in Atlanta. Their work is firmly grounded in the art of storytelling and emotional expression, with a focus on crafting immersive narratives that forge deep connections with viewers.

Read more about this interview with Mingzhi Cai from the United States, the Silver Winner of the 2023 MUSE Creative Awards.