Interview with Zhang Baiyu from China

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Zhang Baiyu

Zhang Baiyu is a prodigy with 10 years of experience in illustration design. He has accumulated vast experience working with game companies, advertising agencies, and educational institutes. He consistently challenges himself to surpass himself to improve.

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

I am Zhang Baiyu, from China. I am a cheerful and optimistic illustrator, with 10 years of experience in illustration design. I have worked in game companies, advertising agencies, and educational institutions throughout my career, which has added me with rich experience and knowledge. In 2021, I established my independent studio, specializing in creative illustration design, product packaging design, and illustration education and training, which are also the main business advantages of my studio.

I love drawing, and it has undoubtedly changed me a lot. Whether in life or spiritually, it has brought me endless joy and satisfaction, filling my body and mind with strength. I will always challenge myself, breakthrough myself, and surpass myself. I also hope to create diverse and rich illustrations and products.

2What made you become/why did you choose to become a creative?
In the field of painting, Van Gogh showcases his passion and enthusiasm for life with bright colors and unique brushstrokes, not only expanding our aesthetic perspective but also inspiring me to think differently about life. Now that I have become an illustrator, it is a challenge and breakthrough for me. For me, the process of creating illustrations is joyful. When I successfully create a work, the sense of achievement and satisfaction is indescribable.
3Tell us more about your business/company, job profile, and what you do.

I am currently an independent illustrator, mainly responsible for creative illustration design (including but not limited to main visual KV, posters, advertising, packaging illustration design, and illustration training). The studio is committed to innovative aesthetic visual experiences, combining culture and art to create unique and unforgettable illustration customization for customers.

I believe that each customization has its own unique story and values, so my design will be personalized according to the needs and goals of different customers, ensuring uniqueness and bringing unique and high-quality customization to customers.

4What does “creativity” mean to you?
Creativity is not just a skill for me, but also an attitude and a way of life. It involves exploring the world, deepening self-awareness, and tapping into one's own potential. It also means self-expression and the realization of self-worth. It makes me understand myself better, love life more, and cherish every creative opportunity more. I believe that only by maintaining creativity can we continuously progress, grow, and create value.
5To you, what makes a “creative” idea and/or design?
Creativity means breaking free from the constraints of traditional thinking frameworks, interpreting the world with new perspectives and techniques, and presenting a refreshing visual experience.
6Tell us about your creative and/or design process.
I usually categorize different keywords from the customer's needs, collect relevant materials based on the keywords, and conduct research based on the materials to form my initial ideas and composition. Then, I draw sketches and overall plans to determine the elements, colors, styles, etc. in the painting. During the conceptualization process, I often make multiple attempts and modifications to ensure that the work achieves the best results.
7What's your favorite part of the creative process and why?
For me, my favorite creative process is from conception to sketch presentation. In this process, I am like an explorer, carrying infinite passion and curiosity, exploring in the boundless space of imagination, searching for unique ideas and images. Whenever inspiration bursts, the joy in my heart is indescribable, as if I have found a hidden treasure, which excites me immensely.
8Describe your creative style and its main characteristics.
My creative style is free, but I love Chinese culture more. The infusion of culture adds depth and story to my works, making each illustration design not only visually appealing but also narrative-rich.
9Do you think your country and its cultural heritage has an impact on your creativity process?

I am Chinese and deeply influenced by China's 5000-year-long history and rich cultural heritage. Chinese traditional art forms, such as traditional Chinese painting, Paper Cuttings, shadow play, architecture, etc., not only provide a continuous source of materials and inspiration for my creation but also make my works full of the charm of Chinese traditional culture.

In my future creations, I will continue to delve deeper into China's cultural heritage and incorporate more Chinese elements into my illustration works, to inherit and promote China's culture. With China's opening up and development, while preserving its unique features, our design path is becoming increasingly internationalized and modernized.

10Congratulations! As the winner of the 2024 MUSE Creative Awards, what does it mean to you and your company and team to receive this award distinction?
I am honored to receive the highest Muse Creative Award in 2024: Platinum Award. This is my first time participating in an international design competition, which is a significant honor for me and a recognition of my past efforts and perseverance. It is also an infinite expectation for the future. It will inspire me to maintain high standards of excellence in all future endeavors.
11Can you explain a bit about the winning work you entered into the 2024 MUSE Creative Awards, and why you chose to enter this project?
As a Chinese illustrator, I hope that hand drawn illustrations can showcase my country's traditional culture in the most influential way. The award-winning Huang Shang Huang packaging series undoubtedly better reflects Chinese traditional culture.
12What was the biggest challenge with this project?
The challenge lies in how to conceive creative positive and negative spaces in the shortest possible time required by customers, echoing the regional characteristics of the brand.
13How has winning an Award developed your practice/career?
Winning the Muse Creative Award is an important development in my career, and it is even more affirming to me. This recognition not only strengthens my confidence but also encourages me to pursue higher challenges.
14What are your top three (3) favorite things about our industry?
Create innovation, learning progress, and break through oneself.
15What makes your country specifically, unique in the creative industry?
China's uniqueness in the creative industry stems from the accumulation of 5000 years of culture, diverse cultural integration, policy support, and market drive, as well as the rise of innovative spirit. These factors are intertwined and jointly promote the vigorous development of China's creative industry. In the future, China's creative industry will continue to maintain its unique charm and make greater contributions to the diversity of world cultures. Through the sedimentation of time, the traditional Chinese culture that has been passed down is an extremely precious cultural heritage. It is a source of pride and a capital for moving towards the world and the future.
16Where do you see the evolution of creative industry going over the next 5-10 years?
In the next 5-10 years, the creative industry will move towards a higher stage of development. In the new trend, the creative industry needs to keep up with technological innovation and development. New technologies such as artificial intelligence, big data, digital technology, and new platform models bring richer performance and higher production efficiency to the creative industry.
17If you were a student entering this industry or an aspiring MUSE Creative Awards submitter, what advice would you give them?

Learning and improvement: Industry knowledge updates rapidly, and as a newcomer, you need to maintain a continuous learning attitude. By reading professional books, attending industry seminars, or communicating with industry insiders, constantly improving one's professional competence.

Establishing a personal brand: Establishing a personal brand in the industry can help you be recognized and gain recognition by more people. Share your professional insights and works through social media, professional forums, and other platforms, allowing more people to understand your talent and value.

18What resources would you recommend to someone who wants to improve their skills in the creative industry?
I think the development of the Internet provides a convenient way for learning. In the network, we can find what we want. For example, I will communicate with peers on industry forums, and communities, and stay informed about industry trends. I will also study courses on various websites.
19What is your key to success? Any parting words of wisdom?
For illustrators, it is important to maintain an optimistic mentality on this path, as challenges do not know when they will come. Illustrators are not only reflected in their unique insights and values, but also in their love and persistence in the art of illustration. It is precisely this love and persistence that have enabled them to achieve remarkable results in the field of illustration.
20Do you have anything else you would like to add to the interview?
Art is beautiful, it brings us not only aesthetic enjoyment but also spiritual nourishment and intellectual enlightenment. In this era full of pressure and challenges, let us embrace art, let art become a clear stream in our lives, and accompany us through beautiful times.

Winning Entry

煌上煌酱鸭-至尊煌礼(系列)| MUSE Creative Awards

The main illustration is composed of positive and negative spaces, with negative spaces forming courtesy characters and highlighting the theme... (read more here.)

煌上煌酱鸭-至尊煌礼(系列)| MUSE Creative Awards

煌上煌酱鸭-至尊煌礼(系列)| MUSE Creative Awards

Zhang Baiyu

Zhang Baiyu is a prodigy with 10 years of experience in illustration design. He has accumulated vast experience working with game companies, advertising agencies, and educational institutes. He consistently challenges himself to surpass himself to improve.

Read more about the interview with Étage here.