We had the good fortune of connecting with Simo Liu and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Simo, can you share a quote or affirmation with us?
I like a quote by Norman Vincent Peale, it’s “ Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars” I like this quote because it uses the stars and moon to represent ideas that everyone might already know, but in a visual, vivid and romantic way. Reach for a higher goal and do your best. Even though success cannot be guaranteed, the result is usually not bad.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My art career started when I was a kid living in China. I was addicted to drawing cartoon characters from Japanese animated TV shows such as Sailor Moon, Doraemon and Sakura Card Captor. Since then, I started formally learning drawing and arts. After I graduated from a fine arts school in China, I came to the U.S. for grad schools. I studied Motion Graphics & Graphic Design at CalArts and Animation and Digital Arts at USC.
After graduation from USC, I was lucky to work as a graphic designer at Illumination Entertainment and worked on many cool projects such as Despicable Me 2, Minions and The Secret Life of Pets.
In 2013, I also worked as an animator at Tokyo Broadcasting Television (TBS), in Japan. There I participated in several projects for an animation DVD series for their original children’s education TV shows called “Catchat”.
I identify myself as a multi-faced individual artist. I like to explore and experiment, combining various ideas, styles and techniques to achieve aesthetics. I am currently working on various projects, ranging from illustration, animation to design. Some of my clients include The Washington Post, Harvard Business Review, Medium and many others.
To study in America was a big decision for me. In the beginning, I was a little nervous and scared about the new environment and the new journey. But I was also very excited about this turning point in my life . When I came to California, I met a lot of other people that also came from different countries with different backgrounds. They bring their home cultures here to make new arts, which is like cultural integration. I learned a lot of different new things and new cultures from them. I believe my works are not only influenced by my Chinese cultural background, but also by what I learned and experienced with a mixture of cultures during my life in California. Here, it also provides me an open space to explore and experiment my artistic ideas and styles.
“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” by Edgar Degas. For me, art is the medium, not only to present my thoughts and ideas as an artist, but also make connections with and respond to many people in the world. It is the universal language to make people all over the world feel connected and find inward significance together.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
If my best friend was visiting with me, I would take her to the DTLA area. In the morning, we can go to The Broad or MOCA Museum to see different artists exhibitions and shows. Then we can go to the ROW DTLA, where there are many unique and contemporary boutiques and pop-up events. Also, I really enjoy urban architecture style and the environment at ROW DTLA and I believe my friend would like it too. Then I would take my friend to Grand Central Market for lunch, where we can find a variety of tasty food from all types of countries. In the Afternoon, we can go to The Last Bookstore. We both love books, so the last book store would be a great place for us to find some unique, vantage and limited-edition books. After that, we would hang out at Little Tokyo, which is a good place to find cute stuff, manga and comics. My friend would like them a lot. We could also have sushi or ramen at Little Tokyo for dinner. The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would like to thank my parents, who always try their best to support me, help me and respect my decisions with regards to my career. I wouldn’t have been able to have courage, confidence and commitment to deal with the difficulties I faced in my career without their support. Thanks to my professors and faculty from USC and CalArts, who enlightened me to think about different possibilities to make artworks interesting and meaningful. Also, I would like to thank my supervisors and colleagues when I was working at Illumination. They always supported me and helped me level up my skills to create professional works for commercial projects. Thanks to my clients who appreciate my work and trust me. Lastly, thanks to my friends who are in LA and in China, they always care about me and encourage me to do what I want to do. I feel very lucky that I get a lot of support and help from many people I met in my career, that’s my treasure. I’m very thankful for it.