by Liu Fang
When Huang Weiming, creator of the most popular Chinese cartoon figure “Pleasant Goat” met with Florentijn Hofman, Dutch designer of the world touring “Rubber Duck” at the China-Netherlands Cultural and Media Forum here Thursday, the potential of cooperation in the creative industry between the two countries was brought into the spotlight.
“The ‘Rubber Duck’ has travelled to 23 or maybe 25 places in the world, Brazil, China, France, America, etc … I lost account. I designed it in 2001 as a global project and it became a global project. I didn’t expect it to be so popular. I think the great success behind the project is in its subjects of happiness and connection,” Hofman told the press.
“Even if you have war, or you lost someone, everybody connects with the yellow cute duck and becomes happy,” he said.
For Huang, whose “Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf” TV series has run 10 seasons with 1500-more episodes in the past 10 years, bringing happiness and warmth to all ages of audience is also a starting point of creation.
His play is centered on the interdependent hate-love ties between goats and wolves. Apart from TV series, seven movies have been produced, all released in the Chinese New Year period, hitting a cumulative box office of over 800 million yuan (about 129 million U.S. dollars). The Wolf couple and the Goats family formed of “Pleasant Goat”, “Lazy Goat”, “Fattie Goat”, “Beauty Goat” and other members, have turned to be Chinese children’s cartoon favourites.
“In fact, my Big Big Wolf is not as bad guy as what you might think a wolf is supposed to be. He loves his wife and he works hard. Nowadays in China, there is a funny saying that a guy like Big Big Wolf is the real Mr. Right for young ladies,” said Huang.
It is the first time that Huang brings his team to Europe. It coincides with the Dutch annual flower floats parade scheduled for Saturday. A “Pleasant Goat” float is to join the parade to celebrate the lunar year of Goat.
“We could learn from the global experience of the ‘Rubber Duck’. We have launched an international strategy, trying to go out of our ‘Goat Village’ and get onto the world stage,” said Huang.
Huang invited Hofman to visit his base in Guangzhou and Hofman happily accepted. “We hope we will have opportunity to work together,” said Huang. “When I am in Guangzhou, I will give you a call,” Hofman answered.
With a doll of “Pleasant Goat” in hand, a gift by Huang, Hofman said his daughter will surely love this “happy and open” cartoon figure, noticing that the Goat has wings.
“One of the concept of the ‘Rubber Duck’ is water. It is always in the water and the water connects all the countries in the world. Water is more important than the Duck. Water is the fluid, the blood of our world. That’s why the Duck becomes global. And the Goat has wings, it can fly, it can also travel around the world,” said the Dutch artist.
This short exchange came on the sidelines of the China-Netherlands Cultural and Media Forum themed on “Creative Industry and City Development,” co-hosted by the Chinese Cultural Media Group (CCMG) and DutchCulture, the Dutch Center for International Cooperation financed by the Dutch government.
The China-Foreign Cultural and Media Forum is a Chinese initiative. Its previous versions have been held in Sweden, Cuban and Malta.
“The Netherlands is a small country geographically, but a great cultural power. There are great potential of cooperation in cultural and creative industry between our two countries,” noted Chen Xu, China’s Ambassador to the Netherlands.
The Chinese diplomat cited “Ruber Duck”, “Miffy”, “Voice of Holland” as examples of Dutch design winning Chinese heart, as well as “Happy Spring Festival” as Chinese traditions stepping into the Dutch life.
“With ‘Pleasant Goat’ coming here as another case, I am sure that more stories of successful cooperation will keep coming”, he said.
Liu Chengxuan, Chairman and General Manager of CCMG, stressed that the development of creative industry in China necessitates more international cooperation.
In Shanghai, there are 106 city-level cultural creative industry parks. In Beijing, about 1 million people are engaged in activities relative to creative industry, according to CCMG statistics.
“We need to learn from Netherlands. We invite more Dutch companies to come to China, to join the development of Chinese creative industry. China welcomes international designers and companies,” said Liu.
Jeroen van Erp, a designer by training and member of the Dutch Creative Council, stressed that for the Netherlands, creative industry refers to creativity with “intended effect for society” and “awareness of the future.”
“Four years ago, the Netherlands launched a policy of top sectors and creative industry was defined as one of the nine top promising sectors. The diverse and scattered creative industry in the country then started to organize ourselves. The structure is developing very well and will move even further ahead,” he said.
The Netherlands has an ambition to make itself the most creative economy in the world by 2020. Its Top Sector Team, set up to promote the top sector, is composed of representatives from government, research and educational institutions, and businesses — the “golden triangle,” a traditional way of cooperation and joint force in the country.