Interview with Minghang Du from United States

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Minghang Du

Minghang Du believes that creativity is an open space where imagination and innovation merge. It's the power to think beyond conventions, visualize new possibilities, and express oneself uniquely. Creativity fuels her passion for self-expression and problem-solving.

Interview with the 2023 MUSE Creative Awards Winner -
Minghang Du

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

I'm Minghang Du, originally from Beijing, and I specialize in helping global businesses with brand development, digital media strategies, and marketing campaigns. My journey in the world of branding began three years ago, right after I graduated as a multidisciplinary art student. During my time as a senior advertising coordinator at the global food delivery company, Hungry Panda, I had the privilege of orchestrating advertising campaigns for a diverse range of industries, including education consulting, financial institutions, food, real estate, and international logistics.

Beyond my corporate role, I also work as a freelancer where I create compelling content for global brands. Through video production, design, campaigns, and social media marketing, I actively contribute to increasing brand awareness. Simultaneously, I assist clients in establishing connections with prominent publications like The New York Times, thus expanding their brand's influence.

My creative identity embodies that of a sharp-minded explorer with a panoramic vision, a discerning seeker of cultural trends, and an inquisitive interpreter of interdisciplinary artistry. My ultimate mission is to infuse vitality into the corporate sphere and effectively convey the profound essence of brands to captivate and engage the audience.

2What made you become/why did you choose to become a creative?
Becoming a creative wasn't something I chose; it's an intrinsic way for me to express myself. I have a profound passion for art, for people, and for the unique ways creative individuals express themselves through their artistic endeavors. In the realm of the business world, things become both more complex and more gratifying.
3Tell us more about your business/company, job profile, and what you do.
I specialize in creating visuals, branding, and digital marketing strategies for international companies operating in the United States. My focus is on fostering business growth and expansion, especially when it comes to bridging cultural differences for these organizations.
4What does “creativity” mean to you?

To me, creativity is the limitless realm where imagination and innovation intersect. It's the ability to break free from the constraints of convention and tradition, to imagine new possibilities, and to communicate in unique and meaningful ways. Creativity is a powerful force that drives my passion for self-expression and problem-solving.

In the realm of projects, creativity is a precious treasure. Each culture offers its own language, traditions, cuisine, arts, music, and values, presenting me with endless opportunities for learning and exploration. In a multicultural world, we have the chance to savor a multitude of culinary delights, appreciate diverse forms of art, connect with a wide array of individuals, and broaden our horizons.

Collaborating with people from diverse cultural backgrounds also sparks innovation and brings forth fresh perspectives. Through the exchange and fusion of various cultures, we can generate new ideas, discover innovative problem-solving approaches, and create works infused with creativity. This cross-cultural interaction not only enhances our cognitive abilities but also fosters global cooperation and mutual understanding.

5To you, what makes a “creative” idea and/or design?
I truly appreciate the moments when a burst of creativity infuses a project. Remarkable creativity has the power to not only address client challenges but also enhance business practices.
6Tell us about your creative and/or design process.
My creativity when I am engrossed in a project can be likened to a tree growing from its trunk to its branches, branching out into new and innovative solutions.
7What's your favorite part of the creative process and why?

My favorite part of the creative process when helping JUQI restaurant build awareness and spread Beijing culture in the US is undoubtedly the cultural fusion stage. What excites me most about this phase is the opportunity it presents to bridge the gap between Beijing's rich cultural heritage and the cultural sensibilities of the United States. It's akin to crafting a harmonious fusion dish, where the beauty lies in combining two distinct cultures into a seamless blend.

During the cultural fusion stage, we meticulously select elements from Beijing's culture that resonate with American audiences. This often involves identifying common ground between Chinese and American traditions, values, or aesthetics. Much like a chef experimenting with various ingredients to achieve the perfect balance of flavors, I relish the creative challenge of finding that ideal mix of cultural elements that will strike a chord with the US audience.

The creative process at this stage encourages me to think innovatively and explore novel ways to convey Beijing's culture to the American market. It's an opportunity to infuse designs, marketing strategies, and storytelling with a cross-cultural allure that piques curiosity and fosters appreciation.

Similar to the culinary fusion process, where diverse flavors meld to create a new taste experience, the cultural fusion phase allows me to craft a narrative that both celebrates Beijing's cultural identity and resonates with the hearts and minds of the American audience. It's a process that not only raises awareness for JUQI but also nurtures cultural understanding and appreciation. I also relish the satisfaction of uncovering a unique perspective and finding creative solutions to my client's challenges along the way.

8Describe your creative style and its main characteristics.

My creative style can be described as direct, dynamic, and diversified.

I believe in getting straight to the point. I aim to convey ideas and messages in a clear and straightforward manner, avoiding unnecessary complexity or ambiguity. This approach ensures that the audience can readily grasp the essence of the message.

I thrive on energy and movement in my creative work. Whether it's through design, storytelling, or problem-solving, I prefer to infuse a sense of dynamism and vitality into everything I do. This keeps the audience engaged and excited about the content or solution presented.

I appreciate the value of diversity in creative endeavors. I draw inspiration from a wide range of sources, cultures, and perspectives. This diversity not only enriches my creative process but also allows me to create content and solutions that resonate with a broad audience.

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

Certainly, my country's cultural heritage plays a significant role in shaping my creative process, and this influence is particularly evident in my recent Gold award-winning work in the 2023 MUSE Creative Awards. China, with its rich history and diverse cultural traditions, has been a constant wellspring of inspiration for me. In my award-winning piece, I intentionally incorporated elements of Beijing culture to craft a composition that is both unique and deeply meaningful.

As someone of Chinese heritage who arrived in the United States at a young age to pursue my education, I've had the opportunity to experience the rich tapestry of Chinese cuisine in the United States. Often, Americans may have certain misconceptions about Chinese food, based on what they typically encounter, which may not accurately represent the authentic flavors and presentations.

Over generations of immigration and adaptation, Chinese cuisine has undergone simplification and conforming to more accessible forms, but this doesn't necessarily equate to a positive evolution. A standout feature of my work, which I believe contributed to its recognition, is the incorporation of traditional Chinese motifs like calligraphy and traditional Chinese musical instruments. These elements not only added depth and authenticity to my project but also served as a way to pay homage to my cultural roots.

Chinese philosophy and art, with their emphasis on harmony, balance, and symbolism, have also deeply influenced my creative process. They encourage me to seek equilibrium in my compositions, to utilize symbolism to convey deeper meanings, and to find beauty in simplicity.

Moreover, the choice of materials, colors, and even the underlying themes in my work often draw from the rich tapestry of Chinese culture. This connection to my country's cultural heritage adds layers of significance and resonance to my art, making it not only visually striking but also emotionally profound.

In summary, my creative process is undeniably influenced by my Chinese cultural heritage, and it is a pivotal factor in the uniqueness and success of my award-winning piece. It is a privilege to draw from such a deep and culturally rich wellspring, and I believe it enriches and elevates my work in ways that set it apart.

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?

I want to express my sincere gratitude for the prestigious honor of winning the 2023 MUSE Creative Awards. This achievement means a great deal to me and serves as a reaffirmation of my belief that creativity and originality are fundamental drivers of success in our industry.

Throughout the process of working on this project, I had the privilege of collaborating with The New York Times, alongside individuals like Pete Well and Evan Sung. Partnering with such a renowned and influential media outlet allowed us to extend our reach to a broader audience and harness their expertise in visual storytelling.

The New York Times brought a wealth of resources and an unwavering commitment to excellence to our project, elevating our work to new heights. Their dedication to accuracy, thorough research, and compelling narratives seamlessly aligned with our creative vision, resulting in a project that not only resonated with our audience but also left a lasting impact.

On a larger scale, this award serves as a potent marketing tool that sets us apart in a highly competitive industry. It showcases our capabilities and demonstrates to our clients and partners that we are leaders in our field, opening doors to new opportunities and collaborations.

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?

The project I submitted for the 2023 MUSE Creative Awards was closely intertwined with the social media campaign and events I crafted for JUQI. These initiatives aimed to narrate the captivating story of JUQI through engaging videos and social gatherings. JUQI occupies a special and cherished place in Beijing's collective memory, serving as a cultural cornerstone.

Among its offerings, Peking Duck stands out as an iconic cuisine with a rich and storied history dating back to the Yuan Dynasty (13th to 14th century) when Beijing was the Yuan Dynasty's capital. The intricate culinary techniques behind Peking Duck make it not just a culinary art but an integral part of our shared human civilization.

The essence of the project revolved around elucidating the intricate process of crafting and serving Peking Duck. What truly set this Peking Duck demonstration apart was its profound connection to culture, tradition, and creativity. It carried the weight of historical and cultural heritage, epitomizing the uniqueness of the Eastern culture. This endeavor was not just significant and exhilarating due to professional commitment; it was also driven by a profound sense of social responsibility.

In my role as the creator and coordinator of this venture, my objective extended beyond the execution of a marketing campaign. It was about building a bridge between authentic Chinese culture and dispelling commonly held misconceptions about it.

12What was the biggest challenge with this project?

Introducing authentic Peking Duck to the United States posed a unique challenge due to prevalent misconceptions and limited awareness regarding what truly constitutes the genuine Peking Duck experience. This challenge was largely rooted in the popularity of the more widely recognized "roasted duck," associated with Guangdong cuisine, particularly Cantonese Roasted Duck.

To tackle this challenge, I took a multi-pronged approach:

Cultural Significance: I began by addressing the issue at its core - cultural significance. I created informative content, including articles, videos, and social media posts, to elucidate the origins, preparation methods, and distinctive characteristics of Peking Duck. This educational content helped raise awareness and rectify misconceptions.

Visual Differentiation: I utilized visual elements to emphasize the distinctions between Peking Duck and roasted duck. This involved showcasing the crispy skin, thin pancakes, and condiments traditionally served with Peking Duck. Visual aids such as infographics and side-by-side comparisons were effective tools for conveying these differences.

Comprehensive Media Campaign: To further educate the public about the disparities between Peking Duck and roasted duck, I devised a comprehensive media campaign. This campaign aimed to inform the masses and included organizing taste-testing events. I invited food critics, influencers, and local media to partake in the authentic Peking Duck experience. I also reached out to major media outlets such as The New York Times, Eater NY, and Time Out. Their reviews and endorsements were instrumental in establishing credibility and generating word-of-mouth recommendations, which are paramount in the culinary industry.

Overcoming the challenge of promoting authentic Peking Duck in the United States necessitated a multifaceted strategy that encompassed education, cultural appreciation, visual marketing, and a robust presence in the culinary scene. By addressing misconceptions and gradually shifting perceptions, we successfully introduced and popularized this delightful culinary tradition.

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

Winning an award has significantly advanced my practice and career by expanding the visibility of my creativity and the opportunity to educate more people about Beijing culture through my work. It serves as a powerful endorsement of my skills and creativity, building trust with clients and collaborators.

Additionally, it opens doors to new opportunities and projects, allowing me to continue growing as a creative professional. Ultimately, the recognition gained through the award enhances my credibility and paves the way for continued success in my field.

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

Communication, negotiation and persuasion.

The art of effective communication is at the core of what creatives do. Whether it's conveying ideas to clients, collaborating with team members, or connecting with an audience, the ability to communicate clearly and persuasively is a constant source of fascination and fulfillment.

Negotiating is a skill that plays a vital role in the industry. It allows us to find common ground, strike mutually beneficial deals, and navigate complex projects. The negotiation process is not only intellectually stimulating but also gratifying when successful outcomes are achieved.

Persuasion is a powerful tool in our industry, whether it's persuading clients to trust our creative vision, convincing an audience of the value of a product or idea, or influencing stakeholders to support a project. The art of persuasion challenges us to think creatively and ethically to achieve desired outcomes.

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

China's rich and diverse history is a boundless source of inspiration for creative professionals. Its millennia-old culture, traditions, stories, and artistic influences offer a treasure trove of creative possibilities. Whether it's drawing from ancient philosophies, exploring the intricacies of Chinese art, or delving into the vast tapestry of Chinese literature and mythology, this rich heritage provides a never-ending wellspring of ideas and creativity.

It's a source that continues to captivate and influence creative minds across various disciplines, from art and design to literature, film, and beyond.

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

The industry is placing a growing emphasis on storytelling. There's a heightened awareness of the importance of diversification and inclusivity, with a clear demand for content that reflects this shift. The digital realm is poised to maintain its dominance in the creative landscape, and I aspire to contribute more innovations in digital art, virtual reality, and immersive experiences.

Artificial intelligence is playing an increasingly significant role in content creation, facilitating data-driven decision-making. In light of these ongoing changes, the creative industry is set to further globalize. As a creator, my aim is to connect with audiences worldwide, leading to an even greater blending of cultural influences than the world has ever seen before.

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

My advice would be:

Be Yourself: Authenticity is a powerful asset in the creative industry. Don't try to mimic others or follow trends blindly. Your unique perspective and voice are what sets you apart. Embrace your individuality and use it to infuse your work with originality.

Never Stop Thinking: Creativity is a mindset and it thrives on curiosity and continuous learning. Cultivate a habit of constantly seeking inspiration, questioning the status quo, and exploring new ideas. The creative journey is a lifelong one, and staying curious and open-minded will fuel your growth and innovation.

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

I would suggest visiting bookstores and exploring resources that can benefit your work. Dive into books on creativity, design principles, and the biographies of artists. Titles like "The Creative's Guide to Starting a Business" by Harriet Kelsall and “The Creative Act” by Rick Rubin have personally inspired me.

Additionally, consider becoming part of creative communities such as Behance, Dribbble, and DeviantArt to connect with artists who share your cultural background. I firmly believe that any avenue of learning can contribute to your personal growth and development, making you a better and more accomplished individual.

19Who has inspired you in your life and why?
I find inspiration in everyone I encounter in my life. Each person brings their unique perspective, experiences, and talents to the table, and engaging with this diverse array of minds has consistently fueled my creativity. It's the collective wisdom, stories, and ideas of people from all walks of life that have shaped and inspired me, reminding me of the endless possibilities that creativity can offer.
20What is your key to success? Any parting words of wisdom?

The foundation of my success lies in the blend of passion, unwavering perseverance, and adaptability. I've consistently pursued my true passions with dedication, surmounting obstacles and perpetually growing and evolving.

In parting, I'd like to offer words of encouragement. I urge everyone to wholeheartedly pursue their passions and remain faithful to their creative vision. Success frequently rewards those who persistently embrace change and exhibit resilience. Continue to absorb knowledge, remain receptive to novel ideas, and maintain an unwavering spirit of exploration. Remember, your journey holds as much significance as your destination. After all, it's the power of thought that propels us towards evolution.

Winning Entry

The most authentic Peking duck | 2023

The Most Authentic Peking Duck | Minghang Du
Introducing the most authentic Peking duck at JUQI in New York. "JUQI"(Chinese) is actually a Beijing ...
(Read more at MUSE Creative Awards)

Minghang Du

Minghang Du believes that creativity is an open space where imagination and innovation merge. It's the power to think beyond conventions, visualize new possibilities, and express oneself uniquely. Creativity fuels her passion for self-expression and problem-solving.

Read more about this interview with Jens Møller from Helsinki, the Platinum Winner of the 2023 MUSE Creative Awards.