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Meet Mengyuan Qi of Moon Qi in West LA (near Santa Monica)

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mengyuan Qi.

Mengyuan, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I am a toy and character designer based in LA. I was born in Beijing, China, and I was influenced by Japanese manga and animation a lot when I was very young. I started drawing and doing master copy those amazing figures in manga books and I thought that’s the most precious time of my childhood in my life. The passion for drawing and design encouraged me all the time and I eventually enrolled in Tsing Hua University (the top university in China) to study in industrial design.

After graduated, I realized that coming to the US would allow me to be more open-minded and be more professional in the design industry, so I came here and got my second bachelor degree from ArtCenter College of Design. Even my major was industrial design, I’ve never stopped drawing and sharpen my skills as a concept artist. Later on, I was fortunate to work as a toy designer, which I think is a fitted position for me since toy design combines industrial design and concept art very well. In the past one and half year working as a toy designer, I gradually found the area that my passion and creativity fit best — character design.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
No. I struggled with the balance of designing a manufacturable product and creating a perfect concept artwork. From the initial concept to the final product, there are a lot of compromises. As a designer, I have design criteria from many aspects, such as marketing and manufacture methods. It’s not just about generating a beautiful 2D work, it must work in real life, both functional and aesthetic, that’s what my biggest challenge is and it always makes me grow constantly.

Please tell us about Moon Qi.
I think what makes me special is the range of projects that I’ve worked on: including industrial products like microwave oven and backpack, UX/UI, branding strategy, toys, character design, as well as illustration for books and packaging. All those experience from different design areas integrated and melted together, and informed who I am as a professional designer. The critical thinking and problem-solving skills I’ve learned from industrial design make me consider all aspects of the problem in depth, to provide a thoughtful and effective solution. The sense and intuition of an artist help me being flexible and creative among different styles and facets in my industry.

Another important facet that always fuels me is curiosity. Since I came to US and experienced culture shocks, I understood that how different people’s mindset would result in dramatically different design solutions. I wanted to know how people think and why they think like that. So, I started a podcast — YINENG FM with my close friends in 2015, to interview and chat with designers in multiple design areas, to help them share their thinking and experience.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
Addicted reading Japanese manga and animation, addicted drawing and creating characters, stories with my friends. I’m very grateful to my parents, they never limit my time on drawing and they encouraged me to go to art school and they always gave me enough money to buy manga books and magazines. Those books are my enlightenment.

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