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Impact 0122: Art out of this world

Howie Kim · 25 August 2021
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Howie Kim is a freelance visual artist with a company called 759 Howie Kim. He graduated with a Bachelors of Arts in Fine Arts from LASALLE College of the Arts.

From starting as a painter, his work has advanced him to digital platforms incorporating a mixture of fantasy and reality wherever possible. He has a passion for contributing to the arts community through bringing joy in whichever way he can, whether it might be through his art or the comedic pieces that he does. His goal is to remind people to spread joy through his art especially in this trying time of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Question: It is not easy to be an artist during this pandemic but we understand you have contributed by bringing about laughter to people to remind them to take time to enjoy life. Could you share with us some of the ways that people have told you that they feel so much joy and fun?

Well, firstly, I think the pandemic has been a difficult time for everyone, creatives and non-creatives alike. But I find it interesting to see how it affects different people and how they respond to it differently. 

During the earlier days of the pandemic (sometime in the middle of 2020) I felt trapped at home due to the circuit  breaker and I believe many others felt this same sort of cabin fever. And with all the uncertainties, it made me feel very uninspired to create any works at all, but after a while I realised we all just have to go on with life and I decided I wanted to create works that speak to these negative feelings that the pandemic had brought about.

This is a photo manipulation piece I did during that point of time. My works are often inspired by  the things that I see and things that are around me. In this case, I wanted to depict myself in some  kind of a “prison” to show these feelings of being trapped. 

Outside of the grilles, you see lots of nature and pop culture icons to represent the beautiful outside world that we all crave for. But of course, the world outside is also filled with dangers such as the Evil Queen (witch) who instead of handing out apples, is handing balls of COVID-19 viruses. I also included Tiger King which was probably one of the top shows on Netflix to watch at the point of time. I wanted to give it an element of fun and humour, as opposed to the many negative things that we all hear about during that point of time.

Question: As a visual artist, could you share some ways that you have contributed to the community in events or social settings?

Every now and then I get opportunities to present and do tutorials or sharing sessions, that’s  always fun and I’m always happy to share. Although sometimes these things can be a little nerve-wrecking. 

Apart from that I guess I tend to try to create a fun place with my works, I often like to think of  them as a form of entertainment. You know what they say about pictures speaking a million words, well I’m hoping my work tells you a story, makes you smile, laugh or something. But I don’t know if that’s giving back to the community per se.

Question: Personally, what are some things that visual art has done for you?

I love what I do as it makes me happy. It’s a privilege and I am thankful for it. I enjoy  creating as much as I enjoy works of other creatives. I honestly couldn’t imagine what I’d be doing if not this, maybe a zookeeper? 

I guess there is also something liberating about being a visual artist, it’s kinda like being able to speak a visual language.

Question: Becoming a visual artist would have some challenges in these times, what would you like to tell all the future artists?

In my opinion, the most important thing for an artist is to enjoy themselves. I find it absolutely essential to like the process of creating. Also, don’t be afraid to make mistakes because there really isn’t a right or wrong way to do things. Don’t worry about not being “good”. 

I think it is also important to be honest with your works, is it not necessary for artists to always create “serious” or “important” works with a deep message or anything like that. You know, the work is yours, you can do whatever you want.

Question: You have shared your interest to do some painting, shows and sculptures. Could you share some things that have gotten you to where you are now?

Well I actually started as an oil painter when I first pursued arts in Lasalle College of the Arts back  in 2013. I did my Diploma in Fine Arts, followed by a B(A) in the same field. But over the years, I guess my artistic interests have shifted and I mostly just work with the digital medium now. 

However, I think painting would forever be my first love. I am constantly trying to find new mediums to work with as long as they are relevant to my artistic practice. Sometimes I try a new medium for just a bit, but if I don’t like it or feel like it’s not right for me, I’ll move on. 

Other times if I enjoy it, I’d explore it further, seeing what possibilities these new mediums might bring. I think it might be fun to start doing these non-digital works again and maybe do an exhibition to show them.

Question: What are some exciting moments or events that you have worked on and it brought great success to you?

I always find it exciting to work with new people, brands and clients. Especially if some of  these brands are huge or international, it’s always gratifying when people see value in my work and want to work with me. I’ve also had the opportunity to give a Today At Apple session at the Apple store in Orchard in late 2019. That was pretty memorable  having to speak in front of a large public crowd.

Question: Any new project that you are currently working on or passionate about doing in the near future?

I’ve been working on doing some prints on t-shirts for quite awhile now so I’m excited to put that out. As mentioned, I am hoping to work on some new non-digital works like paintings and sculptures so hopefully maybe even a show? I would also love to do maybe a short film or something, so we’ll see what the future holds!

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