Kendrick is the co-founder of the Imaginary Friend Studio, and art studio in Singapore I have had interest in for many years. It was a real honor to have him be a guest in the Creative Spotlight and I wanted to share him with my readers. Kendrick Lim a.k.a. “kunkka” is an illustrator, concept designer, and the co founder of IFS (Imaginary Friends Studios), a creative space for artists by artists. Demons, monsters and busty succubuses have been throwing rave parties in Kunkka’s head non-stop since he was old enough to need to shave, and he soon realized that the only way to stop them from turning his brain into mush is by expelling them out of his mind and onto paper photoshop. Bold and gritty, with a sensual edge is what describes kunkka’s art, as he fuses fantasy, contemporary themes and cultural influences. We catch up and discuss a variety of topics from turning the big 3-0 to his art to videogames. Read below for the full interview…
Tell us a little bit about your self and your duties as an Art Director for IFS.
Kunkka: I’m basically a self-taught artist, and a fan of popular culture and videogames. After working in tokyo for awhile as a game artist, I came back to Singapore and, with a few friends, co-founded Imaginary Friends Studios. IFS is a creative space for artists, by artists. Titles are mostly irrelevant at our studio, as sometimes I work on projects myself, sometimes I art direct, and sometimes I put on a business development hat.
Kendrick, you’ve got so many projects, from books to games to illustration. And there have been a couple illustrators who have been able to navigate all these media, but maybe you can tell us a little about your history and how your work has evolved up to this point?
Kunkka: I studied animation in school in Singapore, but only because they didn’t have an illustration program at that time. It was either fine-arts, graphic-design or animation, so I picked animation. I guess being around and exposed to different medias such as (games, movies, comics, toys) provided me with the tools and mindset to handle and do work for them.
Is Singapore a great environment to be creative or are there some limitations?
Kunkka: I can’t speak for other facets of creativity, as creativity and the Arts cover such as wide range of professions. But in the digital art space, I’d say we are pretty much able to go what we want. I think that’s also because my art caters to a global audience.
We interviewed Jeff Staple a few months back and I know you guys spent some time together at PSFK Conference Asia a few years back. Have you yourself spoke at any business events, to share and inspire creatives?
Kunkka: Actually no, my partner Stanley Lau is usually the one who does talks at events.
Soul Calibur V has been announced! Excited? Will we be seeing some new video game art from the studio in the coming months?
Kunkka: Excited of course! I’m a big fan of the game. However, the Soul Calibur concept art is and has always been done by Namco in-house. The Soul Calibur artworks from IFS that you might have seen, are for a trading card game.
Your love of games is very obvious! So how did you transition from working at a Tokyo-based game studio, to working at an illustration studio?
Kunkka: It was a great experience working in Tokyo and in one of the best game company. I learnt alot from it, but it also helped me realize that I don’t like being tied down to a single form of media or project or company. I prefer the variety and the freedom to do and choose the projects that I’m interested in. Hence the setting up of IFS, as opposed to working in a big game or animation company. That said, my passion has always been in illustration and concept art, and so that’s what I chose to do.
What kinds of clients come through the doors at IFS? Have there been any particular clients which have been the most successful? or particular highlights to work with?
Kunkka: We have done work for many clients from different fields, from game companies to advertising agencies to film makers. The most rewarding projects were from the games and comics we grew up with and love dearly. Nothing beats the joy of getting an email from Capcom saying that they want us to do illustrations of the entire Street Fighter III roster. Then there are the more bizarre job commissions which certainly can be considered a highlight. We got a call one morning from a Mr Steve Austin. Turns out he is THE Stone Cold Steve Austin from WWE, and he would like us to design a logo for his ranch in Texas.
Personally for me the highlight was to be able to work on the artworks for the wildly popular pc game, DotA and Dota2 (playdota.com and dota2.com). As a community contributor to the game, my nickname “kunkka” was immortalized by having a character named after it. It was the dopest feeling in the world.
You seem like such a nice guy! Why the attraction to dark imagery; demons, monsters and apocalyptic scenes?
Kunkka: I guess everyone has a darker and evil side, which I constantly eject from my system onto the digital canvas. And thats how I remain a nice guy most of the time :). Seriously, I don’t really know why I’m attracted to dark fantasy imagery. But I’m really a generalist and I like a broad spectrum of things. Two of my most favourite things are Giger’s Aliens designs, and Miyazaki’s Spirited Away. Go figure!
Can you give us some of your favorite Anime films or series? Or perhaps you could recommend something for us?
Kunkka: Spirited Away and all of Miyazaki’s works, but everyone already watched them. If I can recommend comics, they would be Gantz, One piece, Hellboy, and Moebius’s The Incal.
You turn the big 3-0 this year. What do you hope to accomplish in the next 30 years?
Kunkka: Wow, 30 years is a very long time ahead. I hope to be still painting by then, and still learning and improving. As for IFS, this is our 6th year, and I hope to continue growing the company as a brand and take it to the next level through creating our own IPs and products.
Want to keep tabs on Kunkka and the IFS? Follow his cookie crumb trail below: