Interview with Jinming Gao from United States

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Jinming Gao

Jinming Gao is a visual designer of Asian heritage and credits the blend of diverse cultures, mindsets and creative styles that enriches and exposes her to artistic trends and cultural treasures from across the globe.

Interview with the 2023 MUSE Creative Awards Winner -
Jinming Gao

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

I am Jinming Gao, a visual designer of Asian heritage, freshly armed with an MFA in Visual Communication from the esteemed School of the Art Institute of Chicago. My educational journey over the past six years has taken me through various art schools across China, Italy, and the United States.

This immersion in diverse cultures, mindsets, and creative styles has enriched me enormously, exposing me to a wide range of cutting-edge artistic trends and cultural treasures from across the globe.

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

My journey towards becoming a creator has been profoundly shaped by my upbringing. With a family deeply rooted in the realm of art education, the silent influence of art permeated every aspect of my life. From assisting my father in organizing design drawings to frequent visits to art museums, the seeds of artistic passion were sown within me during my formative years. It was during my adolescence that these seeds began to sprout, prompting me to contemplate the field of design and ultimately decide to pursue it as my vocation.

What captivated me about design was its boundless creativity, extending far beyond mere aesthetic presentation. I recognized it as a potent instrument, capable of exerting a tangible impact on society. It was this realization that fueled my eagerness to employ design as a means to convey a small voice and share compelling ideas with the world. I eagerly anticipate the opportunity to harness this powerful tool and contribute to the collective discourse, inspiring others through my creations.

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

As I mentioned previously, the profound influence of learning from diverse cultural backgrounds has greatly shaped my perspective. Furthermore, my involvement in curating exhibitions showcasing landscape paintings by Chinese artists, with the intention of bridging the gap between East and West has been a significant undertaking.

Additionally, I had the privilege of collaborating with the custodian of the tangible cultural heritage of "sandwich pottery" to design a modern website. These experiences have fostered a deep appreciation for cultural exchange and heritage preservation.

In 2019, I embarked on a personal project where I wrote and designed a book entirely by myself, encompassing everything from its content to its illustrations. The central theme of this endeavor delves into the world of Asian society's groupies, seeking to unravel the psychological and behavioral motivations that underlie this intriguing subculture. It served as a captivating exploration of human dynamics within a specific context.

While my individual design pursuits have been fulfilling, I also embrace the opportunity to extend my creative abilities to commercial applications. During my internship at an advertising and creative consultancy in Shanghai, I actively contributed to the design process for China's largest dairy brand. Furthermore, I lent my visual innovation expertise to numerous small and medium-sized enterprises as well as artists' projects. By merging art with commerce, I firmly believe in the potential to make contemporary art more accessible to the general public, bridging the gap and fostering a closer relationship between society and art.

4What does “creativity” mean to you?

In my perspective, the world of the future holds the promise of being a design-centric realm, where the mantra "everything can be designed" resonates strongly. In this envisioned future, innovation emerges as the vital life force propelling our existence forward.

At its core, this design-driven world thrives on perpetual insights, fueled by an insatiable curiosity that fuels exploration. It is a world where problem-solving skills serve as essential tools in shaping a better tomorrow. This harmonious blend of creativity and analytical thinking forms the bedrock of progress, enabling us to overcome challenges and discover novel solutions.

In essence, the future I envision is one where the power of design, guided by relentless innovation, becomes the driving force behind transformative change. It is a world brimming with endless possibilities, waiting to be unlocked through our unwavering dedication to insight, curiosity, and the art of problem-solving.

5To you, what makes a “creative” idea and/or design?

Within the depths of my being lies an unwavering curiosity, an insatiable thirst to explore the intricacies of life. It is this innate inquisitiveness that serves as a fertile petri dish, nurturing the growth of creative ideas.

I am acutely attuned to the world that surrounds me—the environment, the community, and the interplay of human dynamics. Each interaction, every observation, becomes a source of inspiration, fueling the imaginative realms within my mind. I believe that true creativity flourishes when one possesses a keen awareness of the subtle nuances that shape our existence.

This constant curiosity acts as a catalyst, propelling me to delve deeper, to seek connections, and to question the status quo. It serves as a wellspring of innovation, igniting the spark that transforms ordinary thoughts into extraordinary concepts.

In essence, my unwavering curiosity, coupled with my profound awareness of life's many facets, becomes the fertile ground from which creative ideas germinate and flourish. It is within this rich tapestry of experiences and observations that the seeds of innovation are sown, paving the way for boundless possibilities.

6Tell us about your creative and/or design process.

1. Through a lens of experience and keen observation, I embark on a captivating journey, magnifying the glittering facets of life. With a metaphorical magnifying glass in hand, I delve deep into the intricacies of existence, seeking to unravel the beauty and complexity that lie beneath the surface. Each encounter, every moment becomes an opportunity to explore, understand, and appreciate the myriad nuances that make life truly extraordinary.

2. The art of maintaining connections with the outside world has always been a profound source of knowledge and self-expression for me. It is through these bridges that I acquire insights and understanding. I possess a natural aptitude for distilling and synthesizing information gathered from engaging with individuals, probing beneath the surface to uncover the underlying logic.

By immersing myself in conversations and research, I unravel the behavioral patterns of diverse groups and the evolution of distinct cultures, skillfully translating these insights into visual expressions. This process enables me to bridge the gap between complex ideas and the visual realm, giving form and substance to intangible concepts.

7What's your favorite part of the creative process and why?

In the captivating moments when I engage with the outside world, my path intersects with a myriad of diverse disciplines—sociology, philosophy, and even physical biology, among others. It is within these junctures that something truly remarkable transpires—a creative explosion that fills the air with a sense of exhilaration and possibility.

As I venture into uncharted territories, embracing the thrill of experimentation with the unknown, I am propelled by an insatiable curiosity. It is in these exhilarating moments that the boundaries blur, and new ideas burst forth, transcending conventional limits. The sheer excitement of delving into unexplored realms and testing the uncharted waters fuels my creative spirit.

These encounters with different disciplines provide fertile ground for the birth of innovative concepts. The amalgamation of diverse knowledge and perspectives allows for unique insights and fresh interpretations. In this dance between disciplines, I am driven to push the boundaries, to challenge preconceived notions, and to uncover uncharted possibilities.

It is within these moments of intermingling with the outside world, where various disciplines converge, that I find myself immersed in a world of endless discovery. The overwhelming excitement of experimentation with the unknown fuels my creative journey, propelling me forward with an unwavering passion for exploration and the boundless potential it holds.

8Describe your creative style and its main characteristics.

Within my creative endeavors, I find myself consistently infusing Eastern philosophical ideas into my works. Being immersed in the rich tapestry of the Eastern world, I am presented with an abundance of limitless inspiration, gradually transforming into the very essence of my design materials. Drawing from the depth and wisdom of Eastern philosophy, I seek to imbue my creations with profound meaning and introspection.

When it comes to design style, I find solace in delving into the vast realms of art history rather than simply adhering to fleeting design trends. I am captivated by the traces of evolution that shape various genres and styles, and the intentions that underlie their formation. These historical footprints serve as invaluable resources for me, guiding my creative process and infusing my work with depth and purpose.

By intertwining Eastern philosophical ideas and harnessing the lessons from art history, I strive to create designs that resonate on a deeper level. I endeavor to communicate messages that transcend superficial aesthetics, delving into the essence of human experience and evoking emotions that transcend time and cultural boundaries. In doing so, I aim to craft enduring works of art that inspire contemplation, provoke thought, and connect with the profound aspects of our shared humanity.

9Do you think your country and its cultural heritage has an impact on your creativity process?

A glimpse into my persona reveals the undeniable truth: Eastern culture not only influences my creative expressions but serves as the very foundation of my creative process. Within the depths of my being, Eastern culture permeates every facet of my creative journey. It shapes the way I perceive the world, ignites my imagination, and guides the choices I make as a creator. The profound wisdom and timeless traditions ingrained in Eastern culture infuse my creations with a unique essence, providing a solid bedrock from which my creative endeavors unfold.

As I delve into the creative process, the influence of Eastern culture becomes ever more apparent. It informs my perspectives, instills a sense of harmony, and imbues my works with a deeper meaning. It is the tapestry of Eastern values, philosophies, and aesthetics that guides my artistic choices, breathing life into my creations and lending them a distinct sense of authenticity.

In essence, Eastern culture serves as the fertile soil from which my creative seeds sprout and flourish. It intertwines with my thoughts, emotions, and experiences, shaping my artistic identity and imbuing my works with a profound sense of cultural heritage. It is through this deep-rooted connection that I aim to share the beauty, wisdom, and richness of Eastern culture with the world, fostering understanding, appreciation, and a sense of unity among diverse audiences.

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?

The profound encouragement I have received has ignited a fervent desire within me to elevate the visibility of my work and embark on an unwavering exploration of the path ahead. With this newfound inspiration, I am driven to share my creations with the public, ensuring they transcend the boundaries of obscurity and resonate with a wider audience. The recognition of the value and significance of my work fuels my determination, propelling me forward with unwavering resolve.

Empowered by this encouragement, I am resolute in my commitment to push the boundaries of my creative journey, embracing the challenges and discoveries that lie ahead. The realization that there is still so much to explore, learn, and contribute to the world propels me with an unwavering sense of purpose.

As I navigate this uncharted road, my determination only grows stronger. I am fueled by a relentless pursuit of growth, eagerly embracing the opportunities for self-discovery and artistic evolution that await me. The understanding that my work has the potential to leave a lasting impact on the world fuels my passion, driving me to make the most of every step on this creative path.

In this unwavering pursuit, I am steadfast in my commitment to making my mark and leaving a legacy that inspires others. The profound encouragement I have received propels me forward, igniting a fire within me to make my work more visible, to connect with a broader audience, and to embark on an extraordinary exploration of artistic possibilities.

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?
My award-winning creation encompasses the visual design of the fruit brand "Sao Diseng." Within the logo, I artfully employ calligraphy and oriental strokes to depict a serene and contemplative monk donning a robe and holding a broom, meticulously sweeping the fruit with a sense of tranquillity and non-attachment. In Chinese culture, the act of sweeping is symbolic of Zen and meditation, amplifying the logo's connection to deeper cultural roots.
12What was the biggest challenge with this project?

Within this project, my task entails capturing the essence of the monk's physique through hand-drawn lines. My primary focus lies in portraying his spirit in the most streamlined and concise manner possible—a challenge that beckons my imaginative speculation.

With each stroke of the pen, I aim to distil the monk's essence, encapsulating the very essence of his being. Every line meticulously crafted seeks to convey his tranquillity, wisdom, and inner strength, while minimizing any superfluous details. It is through the interplay of simplicity and intentionality that I endeavor to capture the very essence of his character.

In this process of visual interpretation, I am driven to explore various techniques and artistic approaches. I experiment with different line weights, angles, and gestures, honing in on the perfect balance between minimalism and expression. The hand-drawn lines become a conduit for communicating the monk's spirit, allowing me to distill the depth of his presence into its purest form.

My aim is to go beyond mere representation, transcending the physical form to evoke a sense of spiritual presence. Each stroke is purposeful, infused with the energy and intention of the monk, enabling the viewer to connect with his inner world in a profound and streamlined manner.

13How has winning an Award developed your practice/career?

The recognition and accolade I have received through this award have significantly amplified the visibility of my projects, design concepts, and the brand as a cohesive whole. This newfound exposure reaches a broader audience, allowing my work to resonate with diverse individuals.

The profound impact of this recognition extends beyond personal validation. It instills within me a heightened sense of confidence, reinforcing my resolve to continue pushing the boundaries of my creative pursuits. Emboldened by this affirmation, I am inspired to explore new avenues and delve deeper into the realms of design.

Simultaneously, this recognition serves as a gateway for people to grasp a deeper understanding of the endless possibilities that arise from the fusion of Eastern and Western cultures in design. It showcases the inherent beauty and richness that emerges when these diverse influences converge, offering a fresh perspective and opening doors to unexplored creative horizons.

By bringing Eastern and Western cultures together, my work serves as a bridge, inviting others to appreciate and engage with the harmonious integration of these distinct influences. It sparks curiosity, encouraging individuals to embrace the interplay of cultural nuances and explore the limitless potential that arises from their fusion.

Ultimately, this award serves as a catalyst for dialogue, fostering a deeper appreciation and recognition of the cultural tapestry woven within design. It bolsters my commitment to showcasing the symbiotic relationship between Eastern and Western cultures, paving the way for new possibilities and inspiring others to embark on their own creative journeys of cultural exploration.

14What are your top three (3) favorite things about our industry?

When reflecting on the industry, there are three standout elements that I truly cherish:

The industry's commitment to providing encouragement and support for creative workers is one of my top favorite aspects. It is a space where passion and talent are nurtured, where individuals are empowered to explore their artistic visions and push the boundaries of their creativity. The sense of camaraderie and support within the industry fosters an environment that uplifts and inspires, allowing creative professionals to thrive.

Another remarkable facet of the industry is the open aesthetic thresholds and acceptance it embraces. It recognizes and celebrates the vast spectrum of artistic expressions, welcoming diverse styles, perspectives, and approaches. This inclusivity allows for a rich tapestry of creativity to emerge, pushing the boundaries of what is considered traditional or mainstream. The industry's embrace of diverse aesthetics cultivates a culture of innovation and fosters an environment where creativity knows no limits.

Finally, the industry's dedication to respecting and developing diversity is truly commendable. It acknowledges the immense value that different backgrounds, cultures, and experiences bring to the creative process. By actively nurturing diversity, the industry embraces a wider range of voices and perspectives, fostering an environment that encourages collaboration, mutual respect, and the exploration of new artistic horizons. This commitment to diversity not only enriches the industry but also enables it to resonate with a broader audience and reflect the complexity and beauty of the world we live in.

In summary, my top three favorite things about the industry are the encouragement and support for creative workers, the open aesthetic thresholds and acceptance, and the respect and development of diversity. Together, these elements create an empowering and inclusive environment that fuels artistic growth, nurtures innovation, and amplifies the impact of creative endeavors.

15What makes your country specifically, unique in the creative industry?

What sets my country apart in the creative industry is its unique combination of a long history and rich cultural heritage. This amalgamation creates a fertile ground for creators to draw inspiration from and showcase their artistic visions.

The deep roots of our country's history offer a treasure trove of stories, traditions, and artistic expressions that have endured over time. This rich tapestry of cultural heritage serves as a wellspring of inspiration for creative individuals, allowing them to delve into the past and infuse their work with a sense of depth, authenticity, and meaning.

Moreover, our country's diverse cultural heritage provides creators with a vast array of artistic influences to explore. Each region within our country boasts its own distinct traditions, customs, and art forms, ranging from visual arts to music, dance, literature, and more. This diversity offers a plethora of creative possibilities, enabling artists to weave together elements from different cultural backgrounds, resulting in unique and captivating works.

The creative industry in our country thrives on the ability to tap into this rich heritage, paying homage to our traditions while pushing the boundaries of innovation. This blend of historical significance and contemporary creativity sets us apart, allowing our country to offer a distinct flavor and perspective in the global creative landscape.

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

In the era of rapid AI advancement, the innovation industry is poised to undergo transformative changes, ushering in new methods and approaches. With the acceleration of aesthetic and technological advancements, costs are expected to decrease, opening doors for creators to explore novel possibilities.

In this dynamic landscape, creators are likely to place greater emphasis on the conceptual foundations of their work and the advancement of the ideas it embodies. The value of a creation will extend beyond its surface aesthetics, with emphasis shifting towards the depth and ingenuity of the underlying concepts. This shift acknowledges the evolving nature of creativity, embracing the power of ideas to drive innovation.

Moreover, the boundaries between different disciplines will blur, leading to closer and more frequent collaborations. The convergence of diverse fields will fuel cross-pollination of ideas, resulting in ground-breaking innovations that transcend traditional boundaries. The act of innovation will no longer be confined to a linear path but will flourish through multidisciplinary collaboration.

As technological advancements continue to reshape the creative landscape, creators will need to embrace the ever-evolving tools and platforms at their disposal. This dynamic environment encourages continuous learning, adaptability, and a willingness to embrace change. It presents an opportunity for creators to leverage the power of AI and emerging technologies to amplify their creative potential and realize new visions.

17If you were a student entering this industry or an aspiring MUSE Creative Awards submitter, what advice would you give them?

I would offer the following advice:

Stay true to your vision: Embrace your unique perspective and creative voice. Trust your instincts and stick to what you believe in. In a world full of trends and influences, it's essential to maintain your authenticity and let your individuality shine through in your work.

Cultivate your own style: Seek to develop a distinct and recognizable style that sets you apart. Experiment with different techniques, mediums, and approaches to find what resonates with you the most. Continually refine and evolve your style, allowing it to become a reflection of your artistic journey and personal expression.

Be bold and embrace risks: Creativity thrives when you push boundaries and step out of your comfort zone. Don't be afraid to take risks and explore unconventional ideas. Embrace the unknown, as it often leads to the most rewarding and ground-breaking creations.

Embrace the process of trial and error: Recognize that experimentation and learning from failures are integral parts of the creative journey. Embrace the process of trial and error, as it allows for growth, discovery, and the refinement of your craft. Each setback or mistake presents an opportunity to learn and improve.

Seek feedback and collaboration: Be open to constructive criticism and actively seek feedback from mentors, peers, and industry professionals. Collaborate with others to expand your horizons, gain fresh perspectives, and foster a sense of community within the industry.

Stay curious and keep learning: The creative industry is ever-evolving, and there is always something new to discover. Stay curious, continuously seek inspiration, and never stop learning. Engage with different art forms, explore diverse cultures, and stay updated on emerging trends and technologies.

18What resources would you recommend to someone who wants to improve their skills in the creative industry?

To thrive in the creative industry, I would offer the following advice:

Embrace artistic diversity: Open yourself up to artists from different periods and backgrounds. Explore a wide range of artistic expressions and draw inspiration from various sources. By exposing yourself to diverse art forms, you expand your creative horizons and develop a broader understanding of artistic possibilities.

Foster a multidisciplinary mindset: Expand your knowledge network beyond your specific field of interest. Stay curious about the development of different disciplines and industries. Seek inspiration from fields such as technology, science, fashion, and architecture. By embracing a multidisciplinary approach, you gain fresh perspectives and can incorporate innovative ideas into your own creative work.

Harness online resources: Make the most of online platforms and resources available to you. Websites like the MUSE Awards can serve as valuable sources of inspiration and information. Stay engaged with these platforms to stay abreast of the latest trends and emerging practices in the creative industry. Leverage online communities, forums, and educational platforms to connect with like-minded individuals and learn from industry experts.

Cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset: Creativity and business acumen often go hand in hand. Develop an entrepreneurial mindset by understanding the market, identifying trends, and recognizing opportunities. Stay attuned to consumer preferences and evolving demands. By blending your creative skills with a strategic approach, you can effectively position your work in the industry and seize opportunities for growth and success.

Never stop learning: The creative industry is dynamic and constantly evolving. Continuously seek knowledge, expand your skillset, and remain open to learning new techniques and tools. Attend workshops, seminars, and conferences relevant to your field. Engage in continuous professional development to stay ahead of the curve and adapt to the ever-changing landscape of the creative industry.

19Tell us something you have never told anyone else.

The creative process, while often rewarding, can also be accompanied by moments of anguish and challenges. In the context of Chinese culture and oriental elements, their rich history and heritage have endured throughout the years. However, their significance is sometimes confined to the surface level, with both the public and creators failing to delve deeper into their core essence. This limited exploration hinders a comprehensive understanding of their profound cultural significance.

Furthermore, global perceptions of Chinese culture are often shaped by stereotypes, leading to misconceptions and a lack of appreciation for its true depth and diversity. The fusion of different cultures can also result in cultural shocks, as differences in thinking styles and logic may hinder strong empathy and understanding, especially in the initial stages of collaboration.

Confronted with doubts and confusion from others, it is natural to feel a sense of frustration. Navigating through these challenges requires patience, resilience, and an open-minded approach. It is an opportunity to engage in meaningful dialogue, challenge preconceived notions, and foster a deeper understanding of the complexities and nuances that underpin Chinese culture.

As creators, we have the power to bridge these gaps, to facilitate cultural exchange, and to inspire a more profound appreciation for the heritage and wisdom embedded within Chinese culture. By exploring beyond the surface, embracing dialogue, and cultivating empathy, we can foster a more nuanced understanding of the rich tapestry of Chinese culture and create opportunities for genuine connection and cross-cultural collaboration.

Though frustrations and challenges may arise, they can also serve as catalysts for growth, pushing us to transcend barriers and cultivate a greater understanding and appreciation for the depth and beauty of Chinese culture.

20Who has inspired you in your life and why?

Of all the elements that shape my journey in this industry, one stands out as truly indispensable: my family. They have been my guiding light, igniting within me the curiosity and passion that have propelled me to germinate and thrive in this creative field. Their unwavering support and belief in me have been the driving force that keeps me on this path.

From the very beginning, my family instilled in me a love for creativity, fostering an environment where imagination was nurtured and artistic expression was celebrated. Their encouragement and guidance provided me with the foundation upon which I have built my creative endeavors. Their unwavering belief in my abilities has been the pillar of strength during moments of doubt and uncertainty.

Beyond their initial influence, my family continues to be a constant source of inspiration and motivation. Their unwavering support fuels my determination to overcome challenges and strive for excellence. They are my champions, celebrating every milestone and encouraging me to push the boundaries of my creativity.

In times of adversity, it is my family's unwavering love and belief in me that serve as a beacon of hope, reminding me of the importance of pursuing my passions and following my dreams. They are the driving force that propels me forward, even when faced with obstacles.

My family is the cornerstone of my journey in this industry. Their love, support, and guidance have shaped me into the artist I am today. Their presence and belief in me have fueled my determination, providing the strength to navigate the ups and downs of this creative path. Without them, my journey would be incomplete. They are my foundation, my inspiration, and the reason why I continue to pursue my passion in this industry with unwavering dedication and gratitude.

21What is your key to success? Any parting words of wisdom?
Curiosity, insight and confidence.
22Do you have anything else you would like to add to the interview?
May each and every one of you have the opportunity to pursue your passions and joyfully unleash your creative spirit within the intricate tapestry of life's journey.

Winning Entry

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Jinming Gao

Jinming Gao is a visual designer of Asian heritage and credits the blend of diverse cultures, mindsets and creative styles that enriches and exposes her to artistic trends and cultural treasures from across the globe.

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