Gromit Unleased on Hong Kong

Gromit Unleased on Hong Kong

To get those creative juices flowing, you really need to take inspiration from what's around - just ask one of film's freest thinkers

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Artists, including Merlin Crossingham, put a new spin on the popular dog for the exhibition.
Artists, including Merlin Crossingham, put a new spin on the popular dog for the exhibition.
Photo: Elements

Hollywood isn't exactly the most creative or original place these days.

Just look at the list of blockbusters this summer: The Amazing Spider-Man 2, X-Men: Days of Future Past and Transformers: Age of Extinction. In other words, it's sequel, sequel, sequel.

So where do you look if you want something a little fresher? Well, you could do worse than ask Merlin Crossingham, the creative director of the Wallace and Gromit series.

"[Big film studios] are not willing to take any creative risks, as it is ultimately a business risk for them," says Crossingham. "They play very safe by making sequels because [the first film] did well, so it's a franchise, not in creative terms, but in business terms."

Wallace and Gromit is a franchise, too, but one which has never been scared to try something different.

First created as a low-budget "claymation" (a stop-motion animation using clay figurines) in 1989, all five films have either won or been nominated for an Oscar.

Wallace, a forgetful inventor, and his silent but intelligent dog, Gromit, have been involved in all sorts of adventures. Along the way, they have thwarted a criminal penguin, travelled to the moon and saved a sheep from an evil dog.

So what is the secret to consistently coming up with creative ideas?

"The key to being creative is not being worried to make mistakes," says Crossingham. "There's no right and wrong in the creative industry. There is no black and white, there's just your opinion."

Crossingham also recommends looking up from your smartphone once in awhile for some inspiration.

"Start looking around you and look at the world, because art is only a representation of the world as the artist sees it," he says. "I carry a sketchbook and camera around with me, so that if I find something that inspires me or something I like, I can have it for reference."

If you are looking for some Wallace and Gromit-style inspiration, a good place to start would be Elements shopping mall in Tsim Sha Tsui, where 70 Gromit sculptures are currently on display. They have been designed by local and international artists, including Wallace and Gromit creator Nick Park.

Crossingham's own Gromit is called "Me Old China", and is inspired by Chinese blue and white porcelain.

"I really wanted to celebrate Gromit coming to China by acknowledging a part of China's creative culture that I really like, which is ceramics art through history and different dynasties," he says.

Crossingham's blue and white design (above) might seem a bit plain compared to the others, but he says creativity doesn't have to be complicated.

"[Using one colour is] more striking, and sometimes, less is more. Using one colour on a simple background has more presence," he adds. "Having less to work with forces you to be creative."

Taking inspiration from your surroundings and applying it to your art is the best way to stay creative, he says. "You never know what might inspire you, so you just have to keep your eyes open."

The Gromit Unleashed exhibition is at Elements shopping mall until August 31. Admission is free

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Stretch your imagination

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