Illustrations, Hardwork and the Creative Business with Kendrick Lim
He walked up to greet Kendrick, co-founder and senior art director of IFS, and they talked a little bit about art and doing an interview on PopConversation. Herman gathered that Kendrick was a really cool individual with a flair for art and design; Kendrick, on the other hand, must’ve concluded that Herman was a tall lanky fanboy with an inclination for talking to strangers. They were both right.
Dota2 5v5 mashup by Kendrick Lim, Kunkka
This week, Herman talks to Kendrick Lim about the creative business, illustration and design and deviantART. We also talk about visually striking M18 rated magazines.
Pepper Heavy Metal by Stanley Lau, Artgerm
About Kendrick and Imaginary Friends Studios
Kendrick Lim is the co-founder and senior art director of Imaginary Friends Studios (IFS). IFS is an internationally recognized digital art studio with an expansive portfolio of creative works produced for the biggest clients across the media, entertainment and advertising industries.
The company has built up a huge presence online and they’re especially well known in Deviantart.com, the foremost and largest art portal social network on the World Wide Web. Kendrick (a.k.a. Kunkka), together with his peers and business partners, Stanley Lau (a.k.a. Artgerm) and Kai Lim, has enthralled and captured the imaginations of a great number of fans and fellow artists with their mastery of illustration and art; they also run Singapore’s pioneering and most established concept art and illustration business, the Imaginary Friends Studios.
---Start of Interview---
Fanboy Herman: Hi Kendrick, tell us more about how you and your business partners, Stanley and Kai, started Imaginary Friends Studios. I’ve also tried starting something of my own but it’s usually very difficult and it takes too much time, so I just return back to my simulator games. I’m now a millionaire and I own 7 sports cars in Sims 3.
Kendrick: We didn’t start out in an orthodox fashion like most businesses, and quite a lot of things we learnt about the trade were through trial and error. Initially, we had an advantage in Singapore because there wasn’t any businesses or studios quite like ours, you could say that we’re the first in Singapore with a setup specializing in illustrations and comics and as a result there were no competitors around.
However, it was still challenging in the beginning and for half a year, we were living on our savings and trying to find work for ourselves. We had some ideas and the slow period gave us time to work on our own projects as if some we were handling it for a client.
Last Chapter by Kai Lim, ukitakumuki
One of the first things we did was put together a collection of our artworks and printed our first art book, which we used to promote ourselves. We took a trip to San Diego Comic Con in 2005, and we distributed our works to the people and exhibitors there, spreading the word that we’re available and we’re ready to do good work.
San Diego Comic Con 2011
It has been a bumpy ride, there were ups and downs for the studio and we tried our best to create our own position in this niche space of concept art and illustrations. Over the years, this industry has grown exponentially and there’s a greater appreciation for what we do. We also got to where we are now because we continue to deliver products of a high standard and we show our clients that they can always rely on us.
The New Imaginary Friends Studios in Pahang Street, 2011
Fanboy Herman: You guys create really polished works of art and design and you make it look easy. What form of magic is this and can I find the spells online?
Kendrick: Hardwork is an important factor because there’ll always be people much more talented than you- it’s not surprising to see young kids who are incredibly skilled; who knows how much younger and more talented they’ll get in time to come :)
Fanboy Herman: I was up late last night watching TV. It was way past my bedtime of 9pm and I quietly sneaked into the living room to catch my favourite PG-13 show. I’m not allowed to watch people kissing on TV because I was told by my grandparents that it’ll make me go blind. I must’ve had the volume turned up too loud because my mum woke up and I’m now grounded for 2 weeks.
In preparation for this interview, I was going through your bio and there were some illustrations of ladies who were quite sensually depicted and they were adorned in beautiful clothing that ran around, instead of over, their vital parts. I’m now writing to you from my dorm in a religious institution. I was pleasantly surprised that they have Wi-Fi here.
Are Asians more culturally sensitive to the subjects of sexuality? Do you have to be more thoughtful and careful about projects and content designed for the mainstream markets?
Kendrick: 99% of our projects are for the mainstream audiences, we’re careful to not mix work with pleasure and our works with clients are all rated PG, haha ☺ The racier illustrations that we do are for our personal consumption. I will say that most of the times, the clients are much more concerned about the quality and standard of the work that we do, it’s much more important to them above everything else.
IFS Project for Singapore F1 2010
Fanboy Herman: DotA (a.k.a Defense of the Ancients) is a real-time strategy video game based of Warcraft III, it’s also one of the bigger pop cultural phenomena in Singapore and other parts of the world. You’ve had a significant role to play in contributing to the national obsession by creating gorgeous illustrations depicting large sized battles between magical creatures.
Diablo 3: Dungeon Party by Kendrick Lim, Kunkka
Why do people choose to lose themselves in fantasy when it’s a great sunny day out and the wind’s just perfect for flying a kite?
Kendrick: I’m a gamer myself and I can’t explain the hold it has over me, I guess it's like why people love certain sports and have certain hobbies. To me, gaming is evolving to become a sport, I think they call it an e-sports and they have big tournaments around it.
I definitely believe that there has to be a balance in everything we do, it’s precisely why I choose to stay away from Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games like World of Warcraft. It’s a conscious decision that I’ve made to avoid these games because I'm aware that upon stepping in to this world, it’s very hard to get out of it and your life would be sucked into the game and you’ll be living your life out online. I enjoy partying and socializing, so I regulate my time spent on games.
Fanboy Herman: The Imaginary Friends Studio recently did a collaboration with popular U.S. mature magazine Heavy Metal and it contains stellar pieces of art from your talented stable of designers and artists. Tell us more about the significance of the collaboration.
Kendrick: Heavy Metal to illustrators is kinda like what the Rolling Stones is to musicians. The magazine has been around for 20 years and it features M18 material, adult erotica and it’s comprised of short stories and pin-ups.
Heavy Metal Magazine, World's Foremost Illustrated Fantasy Magazine for the Mature Audiences
The September issue is fully dedicated to Imaginary Friends Studios and it’s brimming with great artwork from our very own artists. It was an especially exciting project for us because most of us grew up on this publication.
Their decision to collaborate with us was also due in part to the fact that they wanted a revamp to their image, to make it more mainstream, less on the erotica and more of the mainstream appeal and this issue with IFS was a start in their new direction.
Fanboy Herman: I love to doodle asymmetrical stick figures and I’d like to put my works up online for the world to see. My friend told me about this special place called deviantART, where artists from all walks of life come together to share their artistic endeavors and projects. Please tell me more about this site.
Kendrick: Firstly, it’s amazing to see deviantART still flourising and growing to this day when most of the pioneering social networks like myspace and Friendster has bit the dust. We’re actually really grateful for deviantART because it’s such a great place to showcase your work. It had very humble beginnings where amateur artists and anyone who’s a fan of anime and comics would just register and post their drawings up online.
Today, it has evolved to be ‘the place’ to look for talented artists and a lot of professionals are also deviantART members.
Stim Armour by ukitakumuki
We were with the site since the very beginning and I still use account as my online gallery where I direct people who want to see my works.
Maiden of Fire by kunkka
Stanley, or better known in the community as Artgerm, is a phenom on the site, millions and millions of pageviews for his works.
Imaginary Deviant Heavy Metal by Artgerm
Fanboy Herman: Lastly, for the many fans of Imaginary Friends Studios, what’s in the pipeline for IFS? What can we look forward to in the near future?
Kendrick: Look forward to IFS’s exclusive creations and Intellectual Properties. I can also let you in on the fact that we’re in the midst of creating some casual games for the iPad and iPhone; it’s a new direction for us ;)
Fanboy Herman: Kendrick, I'd like to thank you, Stanley, Kai and everyone at IFS for your warm hospitatility and being such wonderful company. I look forward to seeing and experiencing all of your new works and projects very soon!
Kai Lim (Ukitakumuki), Kendrick Lim (Kunkka) and Stanley Lau (Artgerm)
---End of Interview---
IFS has the Heavy Metal magazine in their online shop now! Aside from the normal pink cover, there's the exclusive (and in very limited numbers) SDCC wraparound cover. Check out their online shop for prices and shipping details!
---Check out the works of Kendrick, Kai and Stanley---
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