Star Wars art is a growing fad. Numerous artists have listed Star Wars paintings, posters, illustrations and concept art to their portfolios. And Kai Lim is no different. His connection with video games is eternal and it has worked as a sole factor in his journey as a successful artist. This 28 yr old, based out of Singapore is a known name in online art community and have grown up in the company of toys and games. At deviantart community, he is popularly known via his handle “ukitakumuki” since last 10 years.
He is also the co-founder and Senior Art Director of Imaginary Friends Studios, a Singapore-based creative agency. In my small interaction with him so far, the only commonality we share is our liking for milk tea.
Check our interaction with other deviantart artists:
Anastasia Korochansckaja, An Artist, illustrator and painter
Matthew Stephens, Co-Founder, deviantART & UX Designer
Suzanne Van Pelt, DeviantArt Digital Artist from Norway
1. Kai, kindly introduce yourself to Aha readers and familiarize us with your regular day at work.
My name is Kai Lim, and I go by the alias UkiTakuMuki on deviantart, where I am most known I suppose. My regular work comprises of commercial illustration and conceptual design for all sorts of clientele ranging from computer games to feature film to the military industry.
2.Tell us more about your entertainment design studio and deviant group. What led to its foundation in 2005?
It was originally founded by 4 people: Edmund Shern, Stanley “Artgerm” Lau, Kendrick “Kunkka” Lim and myself. I interned for Stanley and Edmund during my polytechnic days in their advertising agency, Paprika (now Paprika Global) as it was an opportunity to try out something different. Back then I was majoring in animation even though my sights were always set on gaming industry in general, and hence going the ‘long way round’ as most would say wasn’t a foreign concept for me. I saw it as an opportunity to explore different perspectives towards image making and to experience a different side of the creative industry altogether. Who knew it would bring 4 people from pretty varied walks of life together under one roof.
3. You seem to have a connection with armored art. Is it?
I was invited to the group on deviantart years ago when the groups concept first emerged. I don’t really spend much time on DA other than checking out random work once in a while and replying to visitors who were kind enough to post their thoughts on my work. As for the group, I just thought it was great that the admins/founders of the groups are people out there who love cataloguing this stuff, it makes it easy for fans of the numerous genres of art to converge at well managed meeting points within the enormous DA community site. It can be a real honor to be voted in by community as well, as a seal of approval you could say, for ones efforts.
4. What gathered your interest towards conceptual design for movies and games? What is your clientele like?
It definitely stemmed from childhood and my love for craft. Making ideas ‘tangible’ be it through visuals or physical materials has always been a huge element of my life. I would also add that over time I grew to find working on my ideas more stressful because there are no limits, and it’s all too easy to move beyond those bounds and end up with an ‘unfinishable’ work. This is where commercial illustration becomes almost cathartic to me because it lets me focus on someone else’s ideas, letting me fall in love with them and giving them my very best while still staying firmly rooted in the often already established creative direction. The best part is that I can still add my own take on various aspects to offer my own input where I think it helps, and that is often its own reward.
5. Tell us about your connection with Star Wars. Share few of the artwork with us with a description to each.
To be perfectly candid I am not a ‘wholesome’ fan of Star Wars. I just love the grittier part of the IP, namely the Bounty Hunters, the brutal warfare and the faceless stormtroopers. The lightsabers and ‘pewpew’ lasers did nothing for me as a kid, but Boba Fett just took my imagination and slapped it silly in a great way, haha. I also recall being really upset with how they were portrayed in my childhood.
For ‘the Empire’s finest stormtroopers’ and the most feared bounty hunter in the galaxy they really came across as incompetent clowns on screen, and it was always a fantasy of mine to change that because their design says so much about them that their acting didn’t. Also, I recall an interesting act of ‘subversion’ where I was given an art brief of a evo stormtrooper charging down a Gungan.. and I was literally chuckling as I imagined the writer finding any excuse he could to make a trading card out of that imagery. It was no surprise it became the most well known of my Galaxies illustrations… I think thats the magic behind Star Wars. Everyone can take something from it and can offer something to say in return about the work. Its really engaging.
Here are the links to some of my favorites that I was allowed to release online. Along with their descriptions that are on the same page:
6. Who is your inspiration behind being an artist today?
My enjoyment in 3D aside, Craig Mullins was pretty much the reason I bugged my dad to get me my first Wacom intuos 2. The notion of ‘speed painting’ really lit my imagination on fire. I obviously had no idea of how it really worked back then but as they say oftentimes its the naive optimism that is more powerful than actual knowledge. I don’t regret any bit of it, and if it weren’t for his powerful work and his adapting of a brilliant software like Photoshop to achieve it I honestly doubt I would have gotten started. I got to meet him in person back in 2009 to let him know during one of his workshops to Singapore… it was fantastic for me but he’s probably sick of people like me by now, haha.
7. When not at work, what do you do for entertainment?
I enjoy cycling and swimming a lot, and playing computer games and checking out great art in various forms.
8. Your artworks are a reflection of mostly science fiction genre. Which artists have influenced you the most? Share 5-10 artworks of yours that have gained popularity to your portfolio and are globally appreciated.
The artists’ who have influence on me are:
I really get inspired from all over the place. The beauty of sci fi is the Sci part of it and how it is only as mature as your world view. This is an old piece but over the years I found out that it really traveled pretty far across the net and was my calling card to a lot of other artists I met down the road:
The rest in order of straight statistics:
SWGTCG: Hose Down
100 Years of Force
Tears of a distant sun
Remember The Titans
9. Which are your favorite artists at deviant art community? Share one of the artworks from each of the artists. (pls share the respective links and we will feature them here).
Artist: Johannes Voß
Artwork: MtG: Commander’s Authority
Artist: Jana Schirmer
These used to be a pair before their careers took them separate ways I believe. But they represent a really scientific/academic view of illustration while still pushing their own creative boundaries. Basically the best of both worlds, and it speaks to my core beliefs where it comes to creative illustration, and I love them for it.
Artist: Paul Chadeisson is another monster.
Artwork: Proto UDK 06
10. Is there a message that you want to convey via your artworks. Or is there a story that comes to life in the form of your creations.
It is a bit of both, but the initial idea carries the most weight. The ideas are as varied as the artwork that represents them.
11. If your creative work were edible, what would it taste like?
I would like it to taste like Dark chocolate… and Lamb.
12. Lastly, whom do you want us to interview next and why do you think he deserves to be amongst “Aha People”?
Hannes and Carlo Arellano . They represent to me the best of traditional and current generation of creatives in both their approach and their execution, on top of the ideas they put out with ease. And for that they have my admiration. (And honestly they’re probably the most vocal creatives of those I admire so its better for your publication Thanks for this opportunity, Nishu!
Our friends in the past have also interviewed Kim. Hit below to know more about him:
Thanks Kai for giving me an opportunity to know more about you. You are truly an inspiration for all aspiring artists. Keep delivering great work and continue inspiring us.