Uprising: Woon Yen Cheng’s Signature Spark

Originally from: https://www.lbbonline.com/news/uprising-woon-yen-chengs-signature-spark

The Heckler Singapore motion designer spoke to LBB’s Delmar Terblanche about how he blends the old, the new, and the totally unexpected

When we asked Woon Yen Cheng about the greatest compliment he’d ever received, he was quick to answer: “Woon is fucked up… in a good way.”


This cuts to the heart of things! Woon joined Heckler Singapore as a motion designer in December 2020, and has spent his time since then keeping the studio on its toes with his unorthodox, stylish, and unpredictable approach to creativity. He’s done a good deal of work for the Sydney branch of Heckler.


Woon is a part-time magician and full-time innovator. He combines both in his approach to creativity, always on the edge of being trend-setting, and with an element of surprise and subversion.


It’s certainly how he sees himself. Asked how he’d describe his own style, Woon readily replies, “Unexpected. Fun. Fresh. Cheeky. Weird. Cool. Edgy. Current. I’ve always liked to push myself and see what I can get away with; in real life and with my creative projects.”


This is, of course, the mindset that drove Woon to pursue a creative career to begin with.


“Creative work makes me happy,” he says. “It’s really as simple as that. I like being on the edge of things, being a bit out there. And I get to do that in my job. So it makes me happy.”


And, at Heckler, he’s found many opportunities to put that drive into practice. Woon describes Heckler Singapore as a place full of “good vibes” and “good people”, one where experimentation is not just encouraged but essential. I’m a people person, so the style is one thing, but to make a good project, you need to be surrounded by a good team, which we had on this project.”


He cites the “Moon Pillow project”, done with cryptocurrency Bybit, as a key example of that process and environment working together. “It was just a creative delight. There was a wacky character design, futuristic world, an edgy original rap, and all for a crypto currency trading platform! From 3D wireframe mesh to CG models and 8-bit animation to MS Paint, we used a variety of styles to communicate the story. We reasoned that the visuals didn’t really need to follow any rules because when you’re making a meme you can just use anything you want, but we did draw pretty heavily on a sort of Neon Synthwave art style for the environments and cars.”

“Recently,” Woon continues, “I’ve been working on a couple of cool projects for Lazada. We crafted 5 individual Idents, all based on product categories. We used motion design to create stylised worlds that were playful and loopable based on each of the categories using a variety of textures and 3D elements.”

“I enjoy creating abstract landscapes too. Some of my visual experiments are very broad and range from Mandelbulb fractals to extremely sculptural shapes like something you might see in an art gallery. They all feel moody, dramatic and contemplative to convey a meditative state of mind.”


When we asked Woon where his inspiration comes from, he smiles almost bashfully, before launching into a fast-paced, eclectic list, “My inspiration comes from a real mix of things. From artists, films, clothing designers, to things I see on the bus ride home… I don’t really have one set style or goal. I think a lot about Bruce Lee – ‘be water, my friend’, he used to say. So that’s more or less my approach. In terms of specifics… I like Errolson Hugh’s structurally extreme clothing designs for Acronym. His material cuts and configurations are inspired by the military and martial arts, yet are completely functional for everyday wear- well, if you can afford them. But I appreciate how he’s an outsider in the fashion industry, yet always stays true to himself.


“And my favourite font is Helvetica Haas Grotesk, so I find myself creating Pinterest boards exclusively on this and the Italian designer Massimo Vignelli.


“But I believe you can get inspiration from anything, for example Covid inspired this creation.”

Woon has a love for the classics of artistic design as well, celebrating the artistry of  Zhaoming Wu. “People always think I’m joking… I’m always seeking the latest tech, but you can’t beat the OGs. And I’m not too bad at hand drawing myself.”

His other major unexpected source of inspiration? ”My Dad. (Hi Dad!) His strong yet caring character has always pushed me to be myself and I think that’s important for any artist.”


Finally, Woon wraps all this – his love for aesthetics old and new, his need to innovate, his curious spark for showmanship – in a not entirely unexpected love of stage magic.


“I mean, who doesn’t like magic? It encapsulates our imagination and makes the impossible possible. In many ways, working for a post and VFX company is the same. Picture anything.”