Connie Lim a rising talent on instagram shares her journey with Fida's Patrick Morgan.
"I loved drawing the human form and trying to capture emotions through posture, the expression on the faces, and using the clothes to express more of who the character was". Connie Lim
PM - I found you via Instagram and see you are from LA and london. Can you explain your background and your journey through the arts up until today.
CL - Growing up, I’ve always drawn women and I am not sure as to why. I think I was just around woman when I was younger but it seems like the female form has been a running theme in my work even up until now.
I first started at University in Los Angeles at Art Center College of Design where I studied illustration. I originally wanted to do character design for the video game industry. In the course, it was mandatory to take fashion illustration class to understand garments and styling. I fell in love with this class as I discovered beauty in the character and how clothes could express these attributes. It was our final project where the theme was Deck of Cards and I illustrated the 4 Queens in a fashion context. It was a project I very much enjoyed and after leaving university I aimed to finish the whole deck. I hand illustrated 54 drawings then added them into the card format. I put the project up to be crowdfunded by Kickstarter and was successfully backed! Since the publication of the deck, I have been featured in many magazines and blogs such as Harper's Bazaar and Dazed and Digital.
Since Art Center, I moved onto Central Saint Martins in London to learn fashion design as I wasn’t confident enough to be a full time illustrator. I thought I could get a job in design and just draw as a hobby. But as it turns out, I wasn’t particularly fond of designing but enjoyed the drawing aspect the most. Also, I was in London, one of the most creative cities and it has most definitely made an impact on my work and influenced my drawing style. I began to do lots of life drawing both fashion and themed sessions. I started to realise I loved drawing the human form and trying to capture emotions through posture, the expression on the faces, and using the clothes to express more of who the character was. Fashion became a major form of illustration that I wanted to express.
Thus through my illustration and fashion background, I combined my knowledge on the two subjects. It has spurred me to experiment more with different mediums and combine techniques in the coming years via personal work, industry work, and most importantly life drawing. And it has been something I have been doing ever since!
PM - Many artists are quite nomadic due to social media? How has social media assisted your profile.
"I started to make a website and upload my work onto MySpace and then later on Facebook"
CL - When I was growing up, I didn’t have a phone until I was in high school. The internet was dial up and so when someone picked up the phone you would be cut off from the internet! I find those memories quite funny as it's a different world now. I think in my generation we acquired a fascination for the world wide web - it was something completely new to the life that pre existed it. It was not long until blogging and tumblr became the ‘it’ thing. I was in university studying illustration and I guess it was good timing. I started to make a website and upload my work onto MySpace and then later on Facebook. I also started to e-mail trend websites like Trendland, Dazed and Digital, I <3 Illustration. I got picked up by lots of these websites who started to feature my Fashion Playing Cards, a series I was working on and I guess my journey as a fashion illustrator started there. My work was blogged and reblogged and so I became known a bit and that was the power of social media. Then instagram came along and while I got on the bandwagon a bit late - I still got on! Through the use of instagram, I have been able to have a platform to share my work. It’s such a great tool to get your work out there - most of my clients come through instagram.
PM - I have been looking into your life through social media. What do you do opposite to art to switch off.
CL - I am from Los Angeles and we love to go out dancing and listening to music. Dancing and music is a big culture where I am from and you learn from a young age. I am quite lucky to be in London as London has a big music scene. I guess because what we do is so intimate and personal, I like to contrast my life by socializing and going for a night out at a gig to get the full spectrum of experiences.
PM - you do lots of life drawing? Why? And the class you attend is very interesting how did you get involved?
CL - Life drawing is my passion and you could almost say my life! It encompasses all the aspects of life that are essential and good for the soul. When I am life drawing, I am forced to be in the moment - it is just me, the model and my paper and pen. I have 10-20 minutes to do the model justice and in those moments there is no room for the ego to get in the way. It's a very honest approach to be present. There is no time to worry about the past or the future.. and for me that is the thing that makes it worth waking up every morning, it’s therapy.
"I found this tight knit community in London, the life drawers."
Another aspect of it that I love is the community. We are in the room together participating in the same activity and enjoying each other's company. It’s nice to have people you share a common ground with a love for drawing, you feel a sense of bonding because we get each other. After each life drawing session, it's tradition, to have all our works out so we can all see what we have done. It’s a lovely way to celebrate our differences as humans, we draw the same subject but have different outcomes on how we have perceived the model.
I found this tight knit community in London, the life drawers. I have been teaching at universities for a while now and I am constantly meeting new models and other fellow lecturers. Via the models, they invite me to come to their other gigs that they participate in and through these connections I found this fantastic community! They are like family to me now.
PM - You are starting to break the page by collaging and experimenting. What is the importance of play in your work and mixing old traditional techniques.
CL - I started with traditional drawing with pencil since university and dabbled with gouache and paints here and there. But I felt that in order to truly know one medium to its full potential, I needed to give it at least a year. Every year I chose a medium such as watercolor, brush pen, markers, tackling colour with colour pencil, and so on and dedicated just exploring their potential. I started to build a repertoire of mediums in my skill bank. By giving the medium time and patience, I developed my own way of using it and I think that’s how you build your own identity.
"The tactile analogue feeling of making a paper hat or a dress out of masking tape took me back to my pre-internet days where I would just make things without worry."
Last year, I started toying with the idea of collaging and adding 3D elements. I guess in part I got bored of the 2D, even if I felt I hadn’t mastered it. Also, I had to teach my students experimental fashion illustration and so I had to do it myself in order to teach it. Once I started it, ideas started to flow into my head and I began to really enjoy the process.
The tactile analogue feeling of making a paper hat or a dress out of masking tape took me back to my pre-internet days where I would just make things without worry. I realised that maybe it’s my longing for something real that I can physically feel in my hands within the realm of the world wide web that so dominates our daily lives...
PM - film and animation could bring your work to life? Bringing drawings to life is a big step for illustrators? Usually moving into photography? You photograph your work, is it fast or well curated.
CL - Scale is an idea I’ve been toying with for a while and is something I will explore quite soon once I’ve nailed the collage and context aspirations. Taking photos of my illustrations helped me think about scale and how I can play with perspective. The photos of my illustrations were a project I’ve collaborated with my friend Carina. We went to Paris just to do it for fun and see what comes out of it. We walked around Montmartre and just spontaneously started placing them in random places and started shooting - so it was very quick. It was a test photoshoot for my upcoming project with my 6ft tall life size girls! Whom I would like to take all over the world and do photoshoots in different cities. I want it to be like a real photoshoot for a real fashion magazine.
However, once I exhaust this idea - I am thinking of 3D scanning my illustrations to see what happens and it’s a common thing now at the moment. It would be wonderful to scan them and 3D print them as a real lifesize being..
PM - Connie lim finally what do you predict could be the future of fashion illustration.
CL - I feel we will venture into Virtual Reality (something I have tried out) and really take fashion illustration out there. Fashion in garments and presentation is already out there and I’m sure there will be fashion illustrators expressing that through the VR medium. And then after that has been exhausted I feel it would come back to the analogue way. We are human and need the human touch and I’m such a big fan of the traditional artisan way. For me drawing is couture.
"It’s just a nice way to get involved with something you’ve been doing for a while and it’s that sense of community again" Connie Lim
PM - why did you see fida as a place to be part of? As you entered the competition?
CL - A colleague at work has let me know about Fida and I thought why not? It’s just a nice way to get involved with something you’ve been doing for a while and it’s that sense of community again - bringing people together who have a common belief. I am also trying to work on my visibility as an artist and thought it would be a great way to get yourself out there.
"It makes me excited to draw and it is the biggest challenge to capture all the beauty"C.Lim
PM - can you tell me your favourite place to sketch and draw. What food makes you happy or drink while drawing?
CL - My favourite place to sketch is probably Drawing Cabaret Couture with Janet, Amy, and Mathew who put on the best life drawing session in London that I have been to. The amount of production and thought that goes into it is incomparable. It makes me excited to draw and it is the biggest challenge to capture all the beauty they bring to the sessions. I will have a glass of wine but I am no good if I have more than that whilst I’m drawing!