Animation director Jack Zhang captures us with nostalgia and keeps us with a daring mysticism
The London-based artist comes through a lineage of manga artists as he pays homage to the form and its greats, while exposing us to a world of his own.
When an artist is inspired by the past, it takes real skill to toe the line between nostalgic reference and ephemeral obsession. Animation director Jack Zhang is showing us how it’s done with his enthralling cel animations. “I find it personally touching and it has a sense of beauty that no digital animation can replicate,” he tells us. But, despite his preference for traditional techniques, his characters and penchant for the glowingly surreal, always usher us into the present. “I endeavour to create a unique look in the work that I do. I tend to be influenced by anything aesthetically beautiful – queer culture, sex, obscenity and anything psychedelic,” he adds.
Originally from China and now residing in east London, Jack has only been in the industry for three years and is already being represented by Green House Animation and on the Passion Pictures emerging talent roster. Throughout the years, he has grown an affinity for stitching together a plethora of references in his work. His two “all-time favourite artists” are Satoshi Kon(今敏)and Suehiro Maruo(丸尾 末広), because the former “married 2D animation and live action cinematography like no other,” and the latter “masterfully combines aesthetic and grotesqueness,” he tells us. Striving to be an amalgamation of his favourite manga artists and so much more, we don’t doubt that he will continue to embody the mystical and surreal in his work.
Jack Zhang: Kenzo Varsity Jacket Campaign (Copyright© Kenzo, 2022)
About the Author
Yaya (they/them) is a staff writer at It's Nice That, with a particular interest in Black visual culture. They have previously written for publications such as WePresent, and worked as researcher and facilitator for Barbican and Dulwich Picture Gallery.