If you've ever wondered who was behind the opening and closing sequences of your favorite Marvel films, look no further than Handel Eugene. Known for utilizing exciting new mediums like interactive technology and virtual and augmented reality, the Haitian-American motion designer and animator uncovered his superpower: designing the animation sequences which have been seen in the films Black Panther and Spider-Man: Homecoming. Now Handel is sharing his work across the country as the AT&T "Dream in Black" artist-in-residence. His creative imagery spearheaded the designs currently appearing in select retail stores. Eugene is part of AT&T's Black Future Makers for 2023, alongside Harlem’s Fashion Row founder Brandice Daniel; actress and D.C.'s Batwoman star Javicia Leslie; and entrepreneur Luke Lawal Jr.
EBONY spoke with Eugene to learn more about his extraordinary animation talents and what can be done to extend more opportunities and exposure for Black creatives.
EBONY: What kind of work did you do on Marvel’s Black Panther and the Spider-Man: Homecoming film?
Handel Eugene: I was fortunate to have the opportunity to help create the prologue sequence and the end title sequences for both films. What that means is I worked on the first thing you see and the last thing you see in those movies. For example, the animation you see at the beginning of Black Panther sets the stage for the film and the animation you see at the end of Spider-Man helps tie the story together.
How did you get chosen as the Black Future Makers Program artist-in-residence?
I was chosen because of my body of work in the design and animation industry for the last decade. Because of my multidisciplinary skills and expertise, I was asked to lead design for this year’s "Dream in Black" campaign which also contributed to getting selected as a 2023 Black Future Maker.
What is your art about and what inspires and motivates your work?
The art that I create is intended to evoke emotion and curiosity and to stimulate the imagination of the viewer through thought-provoking visuals and animation. It's about movement and feeling, hopefully leaving a lasting impression that extends beyond just one moment. The idea of continuous improvement and growth inspires me. Seeing how far I’ve grown over the last 10 years by dedicating myself to improvement gets me excited about the next 10. I feel like I’m just now starting to reap the rewards of all the hard work I’ve been putting in over the years, but I have not yet reached my fullest potential. I’m far from where I once was, but not yet where I’m going to be, and that is what inspires me.
How does your Haitian background shape your artistic perspective?
Having a Haitian background plays a huge role in my artistic perspective. Being the child of two immigrant parents teaches you a lot about discipline and perseverance and making the most of your opportunities. The sacrifices they’ve made for me are something I don’t take for granted and are the source of my ambitions to be the best I can be.
What does it mean to "Dream in Black?"
Dream in Black for me means to dream boldly, dream confidently, dream out loud and, most importantly, know that your dreams are worthy of pursuing, your dream has value and significance. Dream in Black is about embracing Black culture, seeing ourselves in our fullest potential and celebrating the accomplishments of creators who are shaping the future.
What can the nation do to create more opportunities for Black artists?
We as a nation can do so much more for up-and-coming Black artists. Having more artist-in-residency programs like the one I am in with AT&T is a big step in the right direction. Most successful artists that have gone on to have decorated careers have received some form of support along the way. We need to provide more opportunities of support for promising Black artists who have the potential to go on and shape the culture.
What will your next work be about?
The next project I am looking forward to the most is getting back into teaching. Helping artists develop their skills and do what they are passionate about is one of the most rewarding things I get to do. It’s one of the rare experiences in my career where you get to see the impact you are making up close and in real-time.