« Creative » and « Creativity » are words heard every time we turn on the TV or read a newspaper, be it in China or around the world. Chinese creativity is the particular issue that California-born Daniel Meller has decided to promote with his present endeavour. Now based in Beijing, he sells T-shirts printed with designs created by Chinese and others. In a recent interview with Nicely Made in China (NMiC) he explains how his company, CreativCulture, works.
Daniel, what gave you the idea to start CreativCulture?
I have always been interested in the textile business. As early as 14 I organized the printing for new T-shirt brands, putting them in touch with factories willing to handle small runs. When I arrived in China in 2007, I did what many people do: look for gifts to send back home. I found that there was a lot of under-represented talent out there. So, 2 years ago I left my job with an office furniture company to start Creativ Culture.
How does it work?
Every 4 to 6 weeks we hold an online contest with a cash prize of 2500 Rmb as 1st prize. To compete you must have a bank account in mainland China or in Hong Kong. That’s the only rule! You don’t have to be Chinese but you must have a strong link to China and anyone can enter multiple designs. For each contest we now get between 500 to 800 entries from all over China. We put as much as possible online – about 60% -, but we have to be mindful of copyright infringement for instance. When choosing the winners from amongst the entries, the CreativCulture team takes account of the online voting result, artistic qualities and of course, creativity. Overall, the design needs to be coherent with the theme.
As you receive so many designs, have you spotted particular trends appearing?
Yes, we have noticed an overwhelming number of designs relating to childhood and happiness. We also get a lot of anthropomorphised animals (i.e. animals with human faces).
It’s often said that Chinese lack creativity due to their education system? How do you answer that?
My overall assessment of the pool of Chinese designers is that they are as talented as foreigners. The top designers remain the top designers and they’re as good as anywhere else in the world.
Where next for CreativCulture?
Our core concept is creativity rather than T-shirts, so we are expanding our concept to other products – handbags, for instance. For the on-going contest, we are working with Time Out Beijing for the Beijing Design Week, which will be held in September 2011. The theme is Beijing past and present and the deadline to enter is Friday August 12th 2011!