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Rising Stars: Meet Xinhui Ma

Today we’d like to introduce you to Xinhui Ma.

Hi Xinhui, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
I grew up in China and had asthma as a kid, due to the general lack of sportiness, I was always really into reading, the hunger for stories and adventures had kept me turning the pages. Then in middle school, I discovered the visual side of storytelling and took inspiration from animations and movies, I started drawing comics and become more serious about pursuing animation as a career, so I can tell my own stories. I moved to America and studied animation at the School of Visual Arts, my graduation film Filla’ Void won several awards and was screened internationally which got me started in the industry, now I’m working as a 2d Animator and designer for clients like MTV, Giphy, Pepsi Co.

Alright, 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?
I didn’t grow up drawing, I grew up reading and dreaming and making up stories. So during college, it took me some time to work on my drawing and rendering skills so that my hand can match up to my head and I’m better able to transcribe the things in my imagination onto the blank page. That was the biggest struggle, however, because I wasn’t classically trained, I found my own style along the way due to my own limitations in using graphic shapes and bold colors.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I’m a 2d animator and designer, more specifically I specialize in cel animation, character design and style frames. So I like to do a lot basically, and that can come in handy for some clients when they’re looking for a full-service delivery. For example, I was the animation director for an episode of MTV’s Greatest Party Story Ever, and I get to work on everything animated by myself from start to finish, I very much enjoy the creative control, and working solo also means I can experiment and maintain a cohesive vision more easily. What sets me apart from others would be my interest in blending deeper more nuanced storytelling with graphic iconographic visual language that is common in commercials, especially in the comic book I’m working on Revolteen & little wormie, I’m using a lot of symbolism storywise, but the visuals are also using a lot of actual symbols to enhance this contrast and deliver the double meaning in the simplest form on face value.

What sets me apart from others would be my interest in blending deeper more nuanced storytelling with graphic iconographic visual language that is common in commercials. Especially in this comic book I’m working on called Revolteen & little wormie which will be published by the Tsinghua University Press next year, it’s a story about a rebellious middle schooler whose always in her roller blades, she ran away from home in the last day of summer right before school starts because she didn’t do any homework, only to find the tiny town of hers runs in a circle, and all her friends in school are turning into the little stationaries one by one. In this story in particular I’m using a lot of symbolism storywise, but the visuals are also using a lot of actual symbols as the character design to enhance this contrast and deliver the double meaning in the simplest form on face value.

Let’s talk about our city – what do you love? What do you not love?
I like the nature I can observe just by walking around the neighborhood and the endless summer, what I don’t like is the traffic and the lack of public transportation in LA.

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Image Credits
Xinhui Ma

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