Interviews | June 6, 2022 |

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Image courtesy of Hannah Meng

Interview: Hannah Meng
Luca Curci talks with Hannah Meng during CONSCIOUSNESS, second appointment of the ANIMA MUNDI 2022 art fair, at Palazzo Bembo – Venice Grand Canal.

Hannah Meng is a Multidisciplinary designer based in New York. Her practice focus on identity, digital, motion, and exhibition design. She is currently with the design team at Asana, she was previously a Design Director at Isometric Studio and freelancing at Brand New School. She graduated from the Maryland Institute College of Art where she received her BFA in graphic design.

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Image courtesy of Hannah Meng

Luca Curci – What’s your background? What is the experience that has influenced your work the most?
Hannah Meng – I was born and raised in China and I am currently a New York-based design director, graphic designer, and illustrator with a passion for branding, exhibition design, digital design, and motion graphics. After graduating from Maryland Institute College of Art with a BFA in graphic design, I moved to New York City and started my design practice. Previously, I was a Design Director at Isometric Studio where I led a team of 5 designers to collaborate with leading cultural institutions, universities, tech companies, and nonprofits. Our goal was to express the missions of these organizations through visual identities, exhibitions, websites, and signage programs, and our projects often addressed complex social issues, amplifying activism on gender equity, climate change, racial justice, LGBT identity, and immigrant rights. I have had the opportunity to design and direct projects for various clients including the Museum of the City of New York, the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, the Center for Reproductive Rights, and AIA (American Institute of Architects) New York, Princeton University, and the MIT computer school. After 3 years, I left Isometric Studio and started my own practice as an established designer and art director. My expertise is more focused on brand design and art direction and, as a result, I collaborate with tech companies to execute their campaigns and product launches to reinvent the way they present themselves visually and strategically. My work, interviews, and essays have been published in various media-Print Mag, Mindsparkle Mag, GDUSA, and I have received awards from Type Directors Club, Society of Experiential Graphic Design, Society of Typographic Arts, Graphic Design USA, A Awards among others. I grew up deeply influenced by Chinese traditional culture and, by living in different countries and cultures, had experiences that definitely shaped my work and help me bring a different perspective, voice, and skillset to projects.

LC – How did you get to your current artistic practice?
HM – I was born and raised in a small loving family. My father used to be a photographer, so I got to learn art from him when I was little. However, I had a difficult childhood after my father passed away, and my mom was struggling financially to give me a stable life. I feel grateful to my mom for how she supported me to continue drawing and painting. As a super-introverted kid, drawing became the way I expressed myself – navigating my pain, expressing my happiness, and communicating with people. Needless to say, I studied fine art and illustration during high school. One of my tutors suggested I try my hand at graphic design. With this openness and a lack of expectation in mind, I delved into this new medium. This was when I fell in love with graphic design and was how I decided to come to States to study graphic design and work for my dream studios.

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Image courtesy of Hannah Meng

LC – Are your artworks focused on a specific theme?
HM – Not really; my work ranges between all kinds of themes and media. I always push myself to experiment with new forms; my work ranges from traditional media like printmaking to digital media like animation/video design. For me, I think learning and experiencing new things are always the most exciting part. That is why I feel like I’ll never lose my passion for graphic design as the subject ties into so many other disciplines, including technology, art, storytelling, and business. So many various aspects of the industry are continuously changing.

LC – Which is the role the artist plays in society? And contemporary art?
HM – Specifically, I want to talk about the role a graphic designer plays in today’s society. I think graphic design surrounds us and has become an integral part of modern life – from advertising to logos to websites – and we often take it for granted. Design is more than simple assembly, planning, or editing. Its role is to add value and meaning, illuminate, simplify, clarify, dramatize, and even entertain. Design is the power to connect seemingly unrelated things. Design can broaden perception, amplify the experience, and enhance ideation.

LC – Where do you find your inspiration?
HM – I like to find inspiration in daily life. When I’m stuck for ideas or something, all I need to do is take a break and go outside and walk around. New York is a magical city; things I see on the street can always inspire me in some way. I am also passionate about creating art or design for the city I live in and love, so sometimes inspiration will come to me when I observe the city.

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Image courtesy of Hannah Meng

LC – Can you explain something about the artwork you have in our exhibition?
HM – I designed and art-directed the title sequence video for the book Genius or Psychotic, which is the first record of the interview of psychiatric patients in China. I created this colorful collage style to illustrate the stories/ideas from the 3 chapters. Inspired by the stop motion technique to animate the graphics, the visual also interacts with the sound. I want this video to be whimsical and lighthearted and, in that way, to convey the magical thoughts from the book.

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Image courtesy of Hannah Meng

LC – What is the message linked to the artwork you have shown in this event? How is it connected to the theme of the entire exhibition?
HM – The exhibition’s theme focuses on the concept of ANIMA MUNDI which, according to several historical cultures, religions, and philosophical systems, is an intrinsic connection between all living entities on the planet, which similarly relates to the world as the human soul is connected to the human body. My work in the exhibition is visualizing the concept of the book. This book records the thoughts of the group (psychiatric patients, mental disabilities, and other marginalized people) living on the margin of society. It is the first record of interviews with psychiatric patients with humanistic feelings in China and the dialogues cover physiology, psychology, Buddhism, religion, semiology, Maya civilization, prediction, etc. The video I created shows the psychiatric patients’ perspectives of the world and their ideas of life which have never been heard before, and that is the way how their soul connects to their body and even the world.

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Image courtesy of Hannah Meng

LC – What do you think about ITSLIQUID Platform?
HM –
It’s great! I think it’s a great opportunity for artists to show their work to international audiences. It was a pleasure to see my work displayed together with talented and established artists around the world.

LC – What do you think about the organization of our event?
HM – I love the fact that this exhibition has very diverse participants; artists, designers, architects, and performers all present their works of photography, painting, sculpture, installation, design and architecture, video art, and live performance.

LC – Would you suggest a collaboration with us? What do you think about our services?
HM – Definitely! I really enjoyed collaborating with you guys on this exhibition. It’s also a great resource for discovering inspiring creators from all over the world – I would definitely refer this platform to other artists.

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Image courtesy of Hannah Meng

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