Meet the jelly-like, spontaneously shaped characters of Myungsik Jang
For the Seoul-based animator, “my characters realise my small desires in the magical world,” and hint to ideas of metamorphosing comic book heroes.
- Jyni Ong
- 18 June 2020
- Reading Time
- 3 minute read
Though Myungsik Jang started out his career in product design, the art of drawing and storytelling never failed to tug at his creative heartstrings. An animator based in Seoul, the multi-disciplinary creative currently works at Vogue Korea all the while working on a range of personal and commissioned projects. Initially however, he launched his career from a degree in industrial design at Seoul National University of Science and Technology, followed by a stint at Benetton Fabrica design research centre as a product designer.
As narrative is central to the animator’s interests, in the past, Myungsik tried to imbue story into physical objects or spaces he was designing. But, he tells It’s Nice That “it wasn’t enough to fulfil my imagination. There are many constraints in the real world and I was tired of the long production process.” Frustrated with the restrictions imposed by the physicality of space – more namely form, material, physics and communication – with time, Myungsik developed a deep fascination in a realm where these problems no longer exist – the digital.
“It’s amazing to handle material, shape and physics in real time,” he says. “The digital realm encourages me to reflect on my aesthetics and tastes very sensitively on screen by adjusting all the subtle details related to the rendering result.” Attuned to the magical whimsy of the digital, Myungsik’s artworks are a joy to view and experience. Recognisable for their friendly characters somewhere in between cute, intriguing and surreal, his work is also notable for its masterfully rendered textures and shapes.
Playfully exaggerating these elements to “highlight the moment”, Myungsik’s animations are a delight to play out for their jolty, almost unnatural movements, the satisfying artificial textures and the manipulation of forms. “Also,” he adds, “the structure of shapes is rough, it’s like a hand drawing consisting of a group of spontaneous shapes.” In turn, these technical choices channel Myungsik’s conceptual patterns of thought. “I’ve had a lot of desires to be something or someone else,” he says on the matter.
With comics he’s read, he relates to the characters with the ability to shapeshift or the ambiguous species. And with this in mind, “my characters realise my small desires in the magical world.” He creates slimy, jelly-like textures to imply metamorphosis. “These shapes are flexible, ambiguous and soft.” It’s a unique aesthetic that carries across all of Myungsik’s work, from the personal to the commissioned, most recently in 11 visualisations for Orlando Weeks’ new album Quickening. “It was a beautiful work experience while I was listening to beautiful songs inspired by his baby coming,” he says. “I could closely listen to his feelings and emotions when he wrote each song.”
Creating 11 different variations in a myriad of styles, the project offered Myungsik the opportunity to experiment. He created wavy, rippling shapes as a nod to the baby in the belly. But more than anything, as Myungsik puts it: “I was happy to visualise someone’s beautiful memories.” As for the future, as well as working on more looping gifs to the satisfaction of his admirers, the animator hopes to reinterpret Bruno Munari’s Drawing a Tree in a longer animation. Additionally, he also found out that his nieces and nephews love his characters, and hopes to work on more child-friendly content using said creatures.
About the Author
Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor. Feel free to drop Jyni a note if you have an exciting story for the site.