“Blood Diary”: An Interview with Min Liu
MIN LIU is a Taiwanese animation artist/illustrator and tattoo artist. She earned her BA in 2010 from National Taiwan University in Taipei and her MFA in Computer Art with a concentration in 2D animation and motion graphics from the School of Visual Arts, NYC in 2013. She focuses on hand-drawn animation and explores the possibility of traditional animation with fine art. Her style is unique with a dark sense of humor.
K. Iver: How did you start making motion art?
Min Liu: I came to NYC studying computer art. I had a passion for graphic design when I was back in Taiwan and decided to follow my heart while graduating from accounting school. But after I came, I was introduced to motion graphics and I thought, “This is brilliant, there is something different when the design is in motion.” Then I saw an animation work by ShiShi Yamazaki and was so moved by that kind of organic hand drawn style, so I started focusing on that.
KI. Your 100-day Blood Diary project features three colors—red, black, and white—and a high-contrast, smooth craftsmanship. How did this project come about?
ML: I always love doing cel animation. After I finished a long-term project in 2015, I decided to take a break from work for a while and do what I really love. At that time, there was a trend on Instagram called #the100dayproject, where people do a thing for 100 days. It can be anything--drawing, photographing, cooking etc... So, I decided to do an animation every day for 100 days. I don't really have a big picture for this project, I guess I just want to push my insanity and see how far I can go. The combination of red, black and white is actually an accident. I used black for outlining, then used red as a placeholder at first. But after I finished the draft, I was fascinated with the beauty of the color palette, and I just went with that.
KI: Your work features many subjects, with some repeats: animals, food, and bodily appendages. What are your favorites?
ML: The cats for sure :) I also like the series of tiny me running on the toilet paper and a watch.
KI: You infuse some of the gore of these pieces with a sense of humor. How important is that to you?
ML: There’s an artist I like named Junji Ito, a Japanese manga artist who’s notorious for his disturbing horror stories. But if you read those, they were actually hilarious because the storyline was so ridiculous which was straight fucked up. I like something dark with a weird sense of humor.
KI: What does your process look like? Has it changed since the pandemic?
ML: While creating Bloody Dairy, I carried a sketchbook with me during that period. Whenever I saw something or thought of something interesting, I did a quick sketch. When I run out of ideas, I will go through the sketchbook. Now my creating process pretty much all starts from staring at a blank canvas and just doodling whatever comes to my mind.
KI: What was one of your biggest hurdles as an artist and how did you overcome it?
ML: I was lost a while ago with my style because now the information is so easily accessible, there are so many great animation artists out there and this affects my style subconsciously. I guess I was trying to follow the trend, but maybe that was just not something that works for me. Now, I just don’t look at other people’s work lol. This sounds weird, especially how social media plays a big part of our life now. I still find inspiration from other art forms--installations/paintings/sculptures/music/fashion etc--just trying to stay away from other animation/graphics design works.
KI: What other animators are you following right now?
ML: None, for the reason I just explained. Sounds bad lol.
KI: What’s next for you?
ML: I am doing tattoo now. I’ve always loved tattoos and had a lot of them, and I figured, “Why not learn how to do it myself?” My tattoo style is very different from my animation, because I think this is another side of me as an artist. The color palette is the same red/black combination because I like that, but the style is very geometric and abstract. I think what I try to going for is to create something that feels so digital on an organic canvas (a.k.a human flesh). Same thing with my animation, trying to create an organic style but with digital tools. I like the conflict about that.