One to Watch: Chinese Animator Lei Lei

Amanda Mooney
"I don't think I'm an artist. I have no gallery, I do not sell paintings. I like animation." There's something refreshing about animator Lei Lei. In an art world increasingly driven and confused by the confluence of technology and ego, he's a down-to-earth, 26-year-old guy from Beijing who scribbled in the back of class at Tsinghua and now just wants to find a way to make a living by drawing and bringing his stories to life. His short, playful film, "This is Love," won Best Narrative Short at the Ottawa Animation Festival in 2011, which piqued Nike's interest, who commissioned him to illustrate several Air Force 1s. Via several broken Gmail chats and despite his claim to the contrary, it was instantly clear to me that Lei Lei is and should be at the center of a new creative scene in China.

 
How do you describe your style?

Naïve.


 
This Is Love is such a cool little story. How did you get the idea for the animation?

I am in a hip-hop band called "hhheeeiii", and the idea came from one of my songs "This Is Love." I was trying to tell the story of love. We finished the music, and then I did the animation.

My...MY... from RAY on Vimeo.


And "My... My"... Was that based on a random bit of inspiration or a real life experience of spontaneous nakedness?

Maybe... I did the animation without a story in mind or a script.

 
Aside from possible inspiration via spontaneous nakedness, what's been your craziest or most memorable project to-date?

Each one's been crazy. I have to finish each animation in such a short time and, at the same time, I need to figure out how to make money for my life.

What spots in Beijing inspire you?

The UCCA Art Museum, and any place I can listen to good music like Yugong Yishan.

What software do you use?

The animation is made by a 2-D computer, drawing on paper and then using some software like Flash, Photoshop and Aftereffects.

What's next for you?

A film about my family history. 

Do you have any advice to share with other young animators starting out?

Enjoy it and play with it. Do not believe any rules.

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