Dream Chen’s Art

April 1, 2016 2016年4月1日

Chen Mengqian (aka Dream Chen) is a children’s book illustrator and animator from Hainan, China. After graduating from the Communication University of China with a bachelor in animation, she moved to the United States. Dream continued her studies in Minneapolis where she is still currently based, at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, and eventually received her MFA in Visual Arts there. Dream’s illustrations tends to blur the boundaries between commercial work and artistic pursuit, and the playful dreamscapes she creates seems to have the power to captivate the imaginations of readers.


陈梦牵,亦为Dream Chen,来自中国海南岛,是一名儿童插画师和动画师,现居美国明尼阿波利斯。在中国传媒大学获取了动画学士学位后,她又前往明尼阿波利斯艺术设计学院继续深造,并获得视觉艺术的美术硕士学位。她的作品一直游离在商业和艺术的边缘,但是不管是哪种创作形式,她都试图为读者和观众营造如梦一般的感觉。

Dream Chen’s parents were both artists, and the creative energy of this household undeniably played a huge role in her trajectory as an artist. Naturally, she chose a creative major like animation in college. After graduating from CUC, she worked at an animation company for a year before deciding to continue her studies in the United States. However, Minneapolis is quite different from Los Angeles – there are no major animation studios in Minnesota and the state of the entire industry is underdeveloped when compared to that of L.A. She created a children’s book and a short stop-motion film as her thesis for her MFA, and after graduating, she began to submit her work all over. But she was unable to find a full-time position at any animation studios, and she was instead offered a position at a children’s book publishing company that took notice of her work. This led to several collaborative projects, and the success turned into more ongoing collaborations. Dream admits she never thought she would become a professional children’s book illustrator, but that taking this path actually allowed her to maintain her personal aesthetics and she feels like it’s an even better way to make a living.


有着艺术家双亲,梦牵在成长过程中深受艺术熏陶,所以大学时期选择了动画,并以此开始自己的职业便顺理成章。离开工作了一年的动画公司,前往美国求学就业。但明尼阿波利斯不同于洛杉矶,这里并没有大的动画工作室,行业状态更为相异。研究生毕业时,她完成了一本儿童绘本以及一部短片定格动画作为毕业论文,并开始四处投作品。在没有动画工作室愿意给她一个全职工作时,一间儿童图书出版公司对她的作品表示了兴趣。于是他们合作做了几个小的出版项目,一切便很顺利进行了下去。最终会以儿童插画师的身份走在这条职业道路上是她所不曾料到的,但她表示跟动画相比,这或许是一个更好的营生方式,也让她得以保留自己的创作风格。

 

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Her illustration books and animations always drew influence from one another. Creating with one medium would spark ideas for the other; for example, when she made her stop-motion animation, it inspired her to create a three-dimensional doll book. Then during the process of making that book, it started generating ideas for her next animation project. Familiar with both mediums, she feels like there’s more room to play around with ideas when it comes to animated works; but at the same time, the tangibility of printed illustration books makes her feel like her artwork is even more real in a sense. She adds, “I don’t know how many times my hard drive has failed, and resulted in me losing my digital files. But when it comes to printed books, there’s never any concerns about losing my work.”


她的创作历程中,动画和绘本永远都是互相影响的。在一者上的创作总会给另一者予启发。比如,在定格动画的创作会启发她做一个三维的人偶书;创作三维人偶书过程的一切又给了她下一个动画项目很多启发。在这两种创作间游离的她认为,动画有更多可以发挥的创意元素,但是印刷出来的绘本却也给她一种更为真实的感觉。“我不知道有多少次我的硬盘坏了,然后我的所有数码文件也因此全都消失了。但是书,你从来不需要有这样的顾虑。”她补充道。

For Dream, the creative processes behind making animations and illustration books are very different. They do share some similarities, in that they are both storytelling mediums, both have a rhythm in how a story can unfold, and both involve characters. When making animations, she is able to use sounds, music, and movements to establish the mood. Illustration, on the other hand, is a bit more like a silent film by comparison. It has its own distinct characteristics and unique qualities of course – such as the bookbinding, which acts as a separator for the individual frames, but at the same time is also what connects all these frames together. The storytelling aspect is what compels Dream Chen the most. She says, “I am really interested in telling stories. I want people to laugh, to feel sad, to look back on my book and reflect.” Dream tells us that she also likes to hide small Easter eggs in her illustrations to surprise the detail-conscious viewers.


在她看来,动画和绘本的创作思维是非常不一样的,但它们都是关乎故事、节奏和角色。动画里,她可以通过声音、音乐以及角色的表演来塑造氛围;绘本则像是默片,也有自己的特别之处,绘本的装订线将画面分隔开,又让它们作为一帧帧连续的画面连接起来。故事叙述就是梦牵最为着迷的地方。“我想讲故事,我想引人发笑或者悲伤,我想让他们在看过我的书后会有一番思考。”她说。她甚至会在绘本中特意隐秘地放上一些细节作为彩蛋,给细心的读者带来特别的惊喜。

Making animations can be immensely time consuming however. The characters that appear in the story also need to maintain consistency throughout. Compared with animation, illustrating a book is far more laid-back in that sense. Dream feels the whole act of making an animation is a challenging endeavor that really tests the artist’s determination and patience. When asked about her approach to the time-consuming, repetitive animation process, Dream says that she studies the details of the character’s movements, and through practice she is able to maintain the same sense of focus throughout the creative process.


但是,动画这种创作形式相当耗时,其中出现的角色也需要由始至终保持一致性——这点对比绘本形式是有过之无不及。动画创作的这种特点是对创作者在耐心和恒心上的很大考验,至少对梦牵而言是这样。谈到自己创作过程中如何克服这方面的挑战时,梦牵说,她只能对角色动作做更为细致深入的研究,再用更多的练习来保证自己创作过程中的专注。

Dream is currently planning to create her next independent animation The Island. This will be her first animated project since graduation, and it will also be her first project that doesn’t involve any dialogue. Dream says, “My animated works before were only for kids. This time, I want to challenge myself, and create a story that explores adult themes.” She recently received a Film, Video, and Digital Production Grant from the Jerome Foundation, which will provide the financial security for her to put sole focus on her work for the next few months. Dream feels like this project will give her the momentum to propel her further along in her artistic journey.


目前,梦牵正在计划做她的下一个独立动画《The Island》。这将是她第一个无对话、面向成人的动画,也将是她离校后的第一个动画项目。她说: “我之前的所有动画都是儿童友好的作品。但是这次,我想挑战一下,尝试做一个带有成人课题的故事。”梦牵最近刚收到Jerome Foundation的艺术家基金,这能让她接下来几个月不用担心收入问题,全心专注投入在动画创作上。更重要的是对她来说,这可能将带她进入创作的下一阶段。

Websitedreamchen.org
Facebook: ~/DreamChenIllustration
Instagram@dreamchenillustration

 

Contributor: Banny Wang


网站dreamchen.org
脸书:~/DreamChenIllustration
Instagram: @dreamchenillustration

 

供稿人: Banny Wang

 

 

 

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