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Inspiration from the streets

He needed a moniker, something grounded in his personality but that could be a canvas upon which to build something bigger. Tweaking the name of his favorite dish Shaomai, or steamed dumplings, Somei was born.

“I began creating posters for the student union at school. Subsequently, I was exposed to video production and started producing teaser trailers for activities that the student union would organize on campus.” That exposure to be design and video production led, naturally and almost inevitably, to experimenting in After Effects and the larger world of motion design.

Moving to Shanghai soon after, Somei recalls his arrival into the creative community there. “When I first arrived, I had only a handful of friends in the motion design community here, but over time this group has gradually grown.” Using the city as his home base, Somei’s freelance career took off, developing CGI videos for some of the world’s top technology and smartphone companies.

Somei’s work station.
Somei, Motion Director

Being an early pioneer of this model within the Shanghai design community, he has recently noticed a growing trend of motion designers frequently leaving corporate gigs to go freelance. The relatively small but highly talented designers in the city has created an environment where creatives are able to work as a freelancer while having a steady flow of projects coming in.

“It allows for better control of both their work and life. More brands are beginning to recognize the importance of motion design, which made going freelance possible for many in the industry.” Having a relatively small community of highly talented creatives in the city means that there are more opportunities to operate as a freelancer while having a continuous flow of projects available.

Whenever beginning a new project in his own design practice, Somei will gather initial inspiration by taking walks through the shopping district on West Nanjing Road in the heart of the city. “Walking by brand stores allows me to gather ideas. The interesting part is that when I purposely set out to gather inspiration, I notice so much more than I would as a passive pedestrian.

Finding this sort of inspiration feeds directly into his work, including many of the OnePlus device launch videos since the OnePlus 5. His style of using movement to produce visual metaphors lends itself well to conveying a diverse range of features and benefits packed inside a OnePlus device.

“In my view, OnePlus is a brand that understands and supports creative workers.” – Somei.

“When a company is new and doesn’t have a mature library of material to draw from, it is relatively difficult to gain the understanding of the brand in those early stages. It requires trust, which is rarely given in this industry but OnePlus demonstrates.”

Others have continued to take notice, as Somei’s client roster has grown to include many companies in different areas of technology such as software and creative conferences. When asked about his process for finding new clients though, he still attributes it to a heavy dose of luck. “I entered this industry by accident at the right time, and discovered the domain of product advertising where my motion design capabilities could be put into good use.”

Wrapping up our conversation, Somei ends with a thought that resonates with our own pursuit of excellence at OnePlus. As for creatives just starting out in this industry or in other creative pursuits, Somei offers encouraging words. “If you work hard at what you do and the pursuit, there are surely moments of luck which will present themselves for you to catch and hold on to.”

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