The unprecedented global pandemic has left an indelible mark on societies worldwide in terms of physical health and mental well-being. According to the 2022 report of the World Health Organization, there’s a 25% increase in the global prevalence of anxiety and depression during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. This data underscores how a silent epidemic of anxiety, depression, and emotional distress arose as people grappled with the immediate health crisis.
To cope with this, a surge in digital content consumption also occurred, with statistics indicating a 15% increase in viewership across major platforms. The demand for engaging visual content skyrocketed as the world transitioned to virtual spaces. With restrictions, people have nothing to resort to but digital spaces.
One of the contents that provided entertainment and comfort during those times of uncertainty is the animation ‘An Honest Meditation’ by California-based 2D and 3D motion graphic designer Chanjue Yu. Recognizing the profound emotional turmoil of the era, Yu crafted a piece that’s more than just a visual spectacle but became a source of hope for many, offering a unique perspective on navigating the emotional struggles of the pandemic era.
The Role of Art and Animation During Struggle and Setbacks
Throughout history, art has served as a refuge during times of struggle, offering comfort to the distressed and a voice to the silenced. During events like world wars, it played a pivotal role in maintaining morale, with paintings, music, and even early animations becoming tools of both propaganda and comfort.
In contemporary times, animation’s blend of dynamics and visual narrative became its unique power to convey complex emotions and stories, address global crises, and provide a therapeutic escape from harsh realities. Yu mentions, “Motion graphics are not just about aesthetics; they bridge gaps, disseminate information, and most importantly, connect souls across diverse landscapes.”
Yu’s vast journey into motion graphics design was fueled by her recognition of its profound impact on cross-cultural communication. That is why, even after landing a job at a prestigious branding design firm in China, she boldly chose to resign from her position and pursue advanced studies in systematic motion graphics design in the United States.
From this multicultural background, Yu understood the world as fragmented by differences. Since then, she believed that animations have the power to weave a common thread: everyone’s fight of their silent battles. She aims her art to ensure that despite the differences and background, everyone has a seat at the table of cultural and social exchange and can hear and be heard.
“Every animation I craft is a step towards a world where information and comfort is not a privilege but a right, and where art is the universal language of connection,” Yu reflects. In the face of setbacks and struggles, she reminds people of the enduring power of art to heal, connect, and inspire.
The Birth of ‘An Honest Meditation’
Putting her belief in art into action, Yu made an award-winning animation project, “An Honest Meditation.” As the world grappled with unprecedented challenges during the peak of COVID-19, she understood people’s yearning for joy, a humorous escape from the heavy weight of the situation. According to her, “An Honest Meditation” was her answer to that call, a harmonious blend of humor and introspection.
Yu’s animation delves deep, portraying individuals navigating life’s adversities with an unwavering spirit of positivity. The animation wasn’t just about making people laugh but about illuminating the juxtaposition of life’s challenges with the human spirit’s resilience.
The visuals and a humorous audio narrative beautifully highlight life’s inherent contradictions. She adds, “I wanted to explore the boundaries of visual storytelling and see how a serious medium like animation could be infused with humor without diluting its message.”
“An Honest Meditation” exemplifies Yu’s innovative approach, redefining the boundaries of animation and offering a fresh, emotionally resonant perspective in a global crisis. The artist proudly shares that the project gained prestigious recognitions, including the Red Dot Best Design Award, the Annual Newcomer Award, and the Young Ones Student Award.
The Mark of a True Artist
Despite “An Honest Meditation’s” tremendous success, Yu admits that the process was not as easy as it seems. Crafting a narrative that balanced humor with sensitivity and ensuring the visuals resonated with a global audience required meticulous attention to detail. As she aspires to evoke a sense of meditation and resonance within her works, the challenge is to
deeply understand shared human experience, feel what people are feeling, and hope that each of her elements–shape, color, object, harmoniously convey emotions in its purest form.
However, it is in these challenging times that Yu’s commitment to professional development shines. These moments demonstrate her readiness to work hard and make necessary sacrifices to acquire a deeper understanding and mastery of her craft. Like her animation, “An Honest Meditation,” Yu is optimistic when confronted with difficulties. For her, the true mark of an artist doesn’t rely on works they can produce during the best time but on what they can create when things happen unexpectedly.
As Chanjue Yu continues to play her part in the growing motion graphic design industry and expand her portfolio, she looks forward to creating more projects that relay life’s raw emotions and reflect her rich multicultural background, a seamless combination of her Western artistic techniques with her Eastern heritage.