Alumni News

Cesc Grané: how to make your way in the 3D character design world

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Cesc Grané, Industrial Design Engineering Alumni at Elisava, has managed to make his way into the world of 3D character creation. His works, however, can be seen mostly in Asia, as he lives in Tokyo.

One of his latest goals is to be the creator of this year's well-known Kinder Eggs mascot. The character is a Chinese horoscope rat and was released last February to coincide with the Chinese New Year. Apart from the applications in packaging and displays, you can find toys of the character inside the Kinder eggs, it is sold in a cuddly toy format and there was even an advertisement with the animated character.

Among many other projects, Cesc has also made corporate characters for Renu Japan. Several animations have been made for advertising and are incorporated into the packaging of products and displays in supermarkets: "I am looking forward to meeting them when I go shopping" he admits.

Beginnings in the world of 3D

On his introduction to the world of 3D, Cesc explains that the first 3D software he used was the Pro Engineer at Elisava: "although it was a very technical programme, I was fascinated by the fact that it worked in three dimensions. At the same time I discovered the world of designer toys, coming from Asia, and I wanted to create my own 3D characters. At that time I was sharing a flat with a classmate who was very interested in the world of video games and knew about other 3D programs, and he showed me the first steps to get what I was looking for".

After a while, Cesc created a website to show publicly everything he had been doing. His work was echoed and published in some specialised blogs. After that, he began to receive commissions from various agencies interested in his profile.

Fascination with Japan

His fascination with designer toys and projects in the field of 3D led him to move to Japan in 2013, where he worked for a Japanese company as a graphic designer while he combined projects as a freelancer for other clients. After a two-year stint in Doha, Cesc returned to Tokyo in 2018 with the intention of settling down for good.

"Japan has served as a gateway to Asia and has allowed me to work for clients from other countries in the area who are looking for a different style. Many of them agree in defining my style as a Westerner. Outside Asia, however, they see a more Japanese aesthetic in my characters," assures Cesc.

The concept of Japanese design

According to his point of view, character design does not have the same importance in Japan as in Europe, where in general, it seems to be addressed to a more childish audience: "in Asia, on the other hand, it is part of the culture and is very present in their daily lives, especially in Japan, where most businesses, public services, and even streets and cities, have their own mascot that they use both for advertising and to sell in all kinds of merchandising products".

That is why Cesc assures that professionally Japan offers him more job opportunities and, at the same time, allows him to keep up to date and learn more about its culture: "most of the designers and artists I admire the most are Asian and, especially in Tokyo, I have many opportunities to see their work exhibited or to meet them in person".

Although it may sound like a cliché, Cesc believes that in Japan modernity and tradition coexist harmoniously: "although society is advancing very quickly and there seems to be less and less room for traditions, in Japan, efforts are being made to maintain them in the world of design as well. One example is the urushi, the Japanese lacquer system applied to everyday objects with a very simple and contemporary design. The result is truly fascinating. The same happens with Japanese ceramics, where we can find a wide range of artists and designers who use this material to create pieces with great aesthetic value".

Upcoming challenges

Cesc is currently working on some designer toys to be made in sofubi, a method of toy manufacturing used in Japan since the 1950s. He is also very interested in making figures and sculptures using Japanese manufacturing processes. Last year he made some wooden figures with a master Kokeshi who represents the third generation of a family dedicated to making this type of sculpture.

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