We’re now entering the dangerous xmas shopping period, where we’ll all be on the lookout for some gifts for friends and family, and here’s our...
We here at TC have been big fans of Meomi’s cute critters for a fair few years now, so we were chuffed to hear that they’d landed the contract to do the mascots for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. And with only a year to go till the fuzzy fellas (including a Sasquatch!) launch the event, we thought it’d be great to sneak a chat with Vicki Wong – one half of the design super-duo!
Hello and welcome to Thunder Chunky guys! Are you having a good day today?
Yes. Thank you! This is the Vicki side of Meomi.
Most of our readers will know that you’re a designer-duo tag-team, but could you fill us in a bit more about Meomi and how things started, especially how the Vancouver-LA link-up came about?
Michael first emailed me back in 2000, after seeing my old design website. Through email correspondence we discovered our mutual love for cutaway drawings, Barbapapa and cute critters. He flew over to meet me in Copenhagen then a couple cities afterwards for various career reasons, we’ve settled into a nice west coast bi-metro set-up.
Mossiphant journal cover for Monoblock, Argentina
Talk us through a normal Meomi day (if there is such a thing!)…
Since we’re currently really busy with several large scale projects. The excitement level (outside my computer) has been down ::: Wake up. Drink tea. Hug my sasquatch. Answer a dozen urgent production emails. Draw/animate/write/design. Bed! (Some eating/laundry in there!)
With the Beijing Olympics coming to an end now, it’s time to look forward to the Vancouver 2010 Winter Game. You must be pretty excited about the mascots you created getting a global audience! What process did you go through when coming up with the characters?
Our goal for this project was to create characters that would excite children and get them interested in the games. The olympics is a relatively adult-centric event, so to connect with kids and get them involved, influenced the creative process.
Meet the Vancouver 2010 mascots!
The conceptualizing of the characters involved defining ingredients that we felt relate to what it means to be Canadian and especially British Columbian. Vancouver is one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world, so we wanted to go down to the roots of what we all ‘shared’ – the Land/Environment and research the local aboriginal myths and stories tied to that.
By choosing some of our favourite myths, we wanted to re-interpret them in a contemporary and playful way that would appeal to kids. As enthusiasts of folk stories/legends/myths, we were inspired and excited to find strong elements in the tales that we felt were prevalent in myths from cultures around the world. By focusing on the core themes of transformation, mixed heritage, and mythical creatures, we hope that everyone (no matter their culture) can find a connection to their own backgrounds.
A couple of the characters, a storybook spread and they even make the local papers!
After the concept process, came the fun part of taking the characters and drawing them in hundreds of different poses. Other projects included writing and illustrating a storybook, participating in the development of the video and working closely with a seamstress on the mascot plushes.
This really is one of the funnest projects we’ve been involved with, and a huge part of that is thanks to the creative team at Vanoc.
What’s the best piece of merchandise you’ve seen them applied to so far?
The picture book, plushes and postage stamps are our favourites. But we pretty much get a kick out of everything they produce, we even like the bizarre products like ice packs and maple syrup.
Plushes, stamps AND maple syrup!!
The Octonauts is a children’s book collection you’ve done, and they seem to have just taken on a life of their own. Did you ever think they’d be so popular?
We’re just happy and excited to share our enthusiasm for ocean creatures and environments. The most endearing experiences for us are when we hear from parents/kids/people who like the book. We get especially excited when crafty and creative parents come up with octonauts inspired projects with their children: we’ve seen everything from themed birthday parties, halloween costumes to hand made plushes and furniture. It brings us big smiles.
Do you approach illustrating for children any differently than you do when you do your work for an older audience?
I think, yes, but only as how a designer should always consider one’s audience. Though I would say, for the Octonauts books, we always think of our audience as not only the children but their parents as well. One of our goals with the books, is to encourage discussion between parents and their children. We’d love for children to ask mom or dad “What is this funny fish?” Then everyone goes and looks that strange fish up and learn something new together. We have a lot of strange characters in our books but 99% of them are based/inspired by real undersea creatures.
Octonauts promo posters
What projects have you got lined up for the rest of 2009?
Our biggest project right now is the Octonauts animated tv series coming out in late 2010, produced by Chorion. You can read more about it on our facebook page.
A sneak peak at the Octonauts anim
We’re all in the thick of production right now with crazy deadlines on a daily basis. Though working with a large team of creative and hard-working people is a bonus.
We’re also still tying up several olympic mascot projects, including a lot of animating and drawing. Then several other ‘secret’ projects within the realm of games / illustration / animation / products!
As creative people, you must gather interesting items for yourselves. What’s the best thing you’ve bought recently?
This amazing cellphone strap that combines 2 of my favourite things: Kamen Rider & Monchichi. ^___^
The cellphone strap!
Finally, what’s the one thing everybody should do today?
Drink tea! Eat blueberries! Pet something furry!
You can check out more of Meomi’s work over at the Meomi cloud house and get a ton of info on the Octonauts over on the official Octonauts site. And if that’s not enough, then you can see the olympic mascots in action over on the Vancouver 2010 site!
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