Each week here at Limbo Radio we select an artist to hold a week-long residency with us to announce our scheduling. This means that every day we publish a different piece of artwork across our social media channels and it’s one of our favourite things to do as a station.
Crystal Lui is the Manchester-based designer responsible for those amazing motion graphics back in January. We met with her for a chat at Manchester School of Art where she’s currently in her third year of studying Graphic Design.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself? So, I’m originally from Hong Kong, I was born there, I grew up there and then when I was 15 I went to boarding school down south in Surrey. It was an all-girls Catholic boarding school… Then I did my art foundation at Kingston down in London and now I’m in Manchester in my third year.
What was it like growing up in Hong Kong? It was interesting, my first language is English because I was put into international school education since I was a baby, and that was something my parents made a conscious choice to do. I didn’t really appreciate the city until I left. But there’s nowhere else like it, it’s such a diverse city in terms of the people and cultures and you have all the islands surrounding it. I think that influences how I think as a creative because if one place can have so many facets then an idea can be like that, as well.
What inspired you when you were younger? I don’t know, you know. My parents aren’t very creative but as a kid, I was very into art and music and sports and stuff. My parents used to just throw us into stuff like piano lessons, swimming, Mandarin… I hate piano though. I learned it for like eight years but I can’t say I know how to play it now. Even though I was involved in so much as a kid, it always had a negative association since it was somewhat forced, so I was inspired to do the opposite or anything but.
What’s the idea behind the pieces you have done for your Limbo artwork residency? I kind of wanted to show a certain depth to music and music-making, so within the template and specs given, I wanted to create a sort of false frame so it had an illusion of depth to it. And like the shapes and colours help to depict the different facets to a mix or song. I wanted all the pieces to correlate but appear somewhat dissonant, as music as a whole creates harmony but no tune is the same.
When did you get into motion design? So, I do illustrations as my own thing aside from the graphic design I do, but I’ve always been interested in making things move to further interpret my idea. But I think that helps me do what I do better and brings it to life.
How did you come about getting involved with HelioCentric? So Nirav initially brought us in to do all the design work like the posters and promotional stuff, but because we were so involved in that we’re just kind of like a part of the team now and we’re responsible for all the visual stuff like graphics, motion graphics, visuals on the night, social media and just generally helping out where possible.
What do you do to get into a creative flow? Do you have a process? My housemates are all on the same course as me. But on a normal day or night, we just come together to sit in the living room and just chill out. Having like the TV on or music helps me think about things and then we just bounce ideas off each other. It feels like a really comfortable and safe space, there’s no pressure.
What music are you currently listening to? Truthfully, a little bit of everything! I grew up having to explore my own music taste because my parents weren’t that invested in it and also the primary genre in Hong Kong was Chinese pop, which didn’t merge with my identity at all. I love a good DnB rave just as much as I’d love seeing Chandé bust out the jazz and funky tunes at Night & Day, and jamming out to Ocean Wisdom as I’m getting ready in the morning. I am currently hugely influenced by the music-makers around me such as my housemates and Fry Up Studio members Elliot & Shannon, as well as the collectives we are involved with: Within Bodies, Heliocentric and Me Gusta. We’re surrounded by it and it’s more of a case of the music finds me.
So what can we expect from you in 2020 and the future in general? Possibly a Masters, we’ll see how that goes… The Master’s degree is more self-directed so I’d get to show my ability in the full while having more time to explore and put more thought into a project I’m personally passionate about; which will be nice because there are lots of things I’d love to do right now but I just don’t have the time to do it!
Any advice for aspiring creatives? I think creating something that is whole-heartedly YOU is really important in order to show who you are as a person and as a designer. Being involved with music and design at the same time has opened up so many more avenues for me. So my advice is to get involved in creative projects which you’re passionate about that are outside of your uni course for example, network, meet new people and just have fun!