Guan-Ting Chen (陳冠廷) received both the Best Art and Student awards in iAnimagic 2017 for his thought-provoking animated film, Wanam (大武俠行旅). His award-winning piece has a very particular artistic taste, dominated by bold lines and striking colors. It has a unique and imaginative storyline about the rise of samurais and geishas again in Japan’s future, and addresses various social issues such as gender stereotypes, homosexuality, and gender identity, encouraging the audience to think about these topics. We have had the pleasure to have Guan-Ting sharing his animation journey.
Congratulations for winning both the Best Art and Student awards with Wanam! Can you tell us more about yourself?
My friends like to call me “Tudou” (土豆) which means “potato” in Chinese. This is also my pen name on social media platforms. I am currently studying at Ming Chuan University in Taiwan and I really like drawing! I am interested in animations, motion pictures, and digital media. Besides being an animator, I am also an illustrator and 2D graphic designer.
Can you tell us more about the creation process of Wanam?
Wanam was originally created as the final product of a school assignment. I paid particular attention to the music and I chose a theme song with Chinese flare. When I was first designing this animation, I had this image of samurais in my head, so I incorporated elements of samurai into this Japanese-style piece.
The whole creation process of Wanam was very random. At the beginning, I only did some rough sketches of the key frames on paper and the rest was very free-spirited work. Compared to other work of mine, the creation process of Wanam was much less rigorous.
Wanam has incorporated many elements of traditional Japanese culture, which is very different to many other competitors’ work. How do you usually choose an animation’s style?
When I create a new piece of animation, I first consider how important this animation is to me and the time cost. If this is just a usual school assignment, I tend to use a style dominated by black lines and strokes with no shadows, as it is easier to create. But if I have more time to work on it and it is an important assignment to me—like a graduation project—then I would put more effort into the work and challenge myself by applying a more textured style with no border around the shapes or other, more unique, styles to create an animation with more depth.
Do you have a favorite animation style?
I believe that animation style can be categorized into three types: black outline, colored outline, and no outline. I personally think that the black-outlined style animations are too common and lack character; the colored outline style looks complex and interesting but the creation process is complicated; and the no-outline style is quite popular nowadays. Nearly all motion graphics adapt this style and it is my favorite. It takes more time to draw than the black-outlined style, but I think that it’s worth it looking it from an artistic point of view.
You often interact with your fans on your social media pages and share videos of your production process. Completing an animation is a very complex process, and having a consistent audience is a great way to show off your work—do you have any advice you want to share to help readers gain more exposure to one’s work?
I would suggest you to submit your work to Hubermovie (六指淵特效教學 / 製片交流平台). Regardless of whether your work would be published on this platform, it provides an excellent opportunity to communicate with many people sharing the same interests as you and lets many others to see your work.
Besides making money out of animated films, what other money-making opportunities are there with individual animations? For example, we found that on your social media page, GAN University, there are some animation related products and LINE stickers. Did you plan all these other products and items before you produce a new animation? In your opinion, could merchandising be the main source of income for an independent animator?
As you create a new animation, you find yourself more and more deeply in love with your work, and you want to develop it in many different directions. For example: how do you make it more entertaining? How do you increase its exposure when finished? . You treat your animation as if it is your own child—you buy your child new clothes, help him or her make new friends, etc. And eventually, you come up with all the different ideas to develop the animation and its characters. There is so much love!
What is the latest project you are working on?
After graduation, I want to apply for the scholarship from the Cultural Affairs Bureau in Taiwan and develop the second season of GAN University.
Can you recommend an animation for our readers?
If you enjoy Wanam, I would recommend my Welcome to GAN University. I have put a lot of effort into making the animation. I think that it is better on every level—especially the storyline—than Wanam.
Many thanks to Guan-Ting for sharing his story. We look forward to seeing more of his great animation work!
If you are interested in staying up to date with his creations, check out his social media pages!
Pictures are made by Guang Ting, and used under his consent.
Also published on Medium.