Thursday, July 15, 2010

Takin' It Back

The Art of Tommii Lim
by Stephanie Chefas

Tommii on a LA rooftop

Make no mistake about it, Tommii Lim knows how to party like an art star. Creating art by day, DJ'ing at night, and going on adventures in between, Tommii is living life to the fullest. Drawing upon his experiences and finding inspiration from daily interactions with you and me, Tommii captures today's society in graphic abstract patterns and employs his unique style to highlight the complexities of our technologically driven world.

As one of the participating artists in Industrial Squid's upcoming group show Off the Strip at WWA gallery, I wanted to take the opportunity to learn more about Tommii and what makes him 'tick'.

Stephanie Chefas (SC): When hearing about the theme for Off the Strip, what was your initial reaction?

Tommii Lim (TL): Vegas and bacon.

Bus Ride by Tommii Lim

SC: Which comic strip character do you relate to and love the most?

TL: Don't have a specific character but i think i can relate most to villains and antagonist characters. They always try to question authority and cause ruckuses but always get foiled by the 'hero'. In reality, good and bad is not as clear cut as is in fictional worlds so i guess those characters make me wonder who the true villains and heroes are in real life and which side I'm on.

LOL by Tommii Lim

SC: What's the naughtiest thing you've ever done?

TL: I've been a DJ for the last 10 years and have had gigs ranging from the Porn industry to Playboy parties, that's all i will say...

SC: Did you get caught?


SC: Would you do it again?

TL: Yessss

Partying like an art star!

SC: What was the inspiration when creating your piece for the show, Hobbes Ride (Takin' It Back)?

TL: As a kid, I grew up every Sunday morning eating fresh doughnuts and getting the Sunday comics from my dad. Calvin and Hobbes was one of my favorites. The perfect friend was the one he would go on adventures with. For me, my piece is about that moment in your childhood that goes by in a blink of an eye and becomes a flickering thought in the back of your memories. The piece is made like a random frame in a comic, forever frozen in time, as a reminder of the past.

Hobbes' Ride (Takin' It Back) by Tommii Lim

SC: The majority of your art in 2010 are powerfully strong graphic black & white images and a departure from the vibrant color palette that you're known for using. Is there anything specific inspiring this change?

TL: Not sure exactly what triggered the change, but i guess I'm going back to basics. My early work started off very monochromatic and then i started noticing everything around me was very wild with color and vibrant, so i intensified the colors to portray that. I've always wanted to reflect my world and thoughts in my paintings and that was what i was feeling at the time. I moved to downtown L.A. earlier this year, in the middle of all the buildings and smog and i think that has effected my color palette and work in many ways. I also came across some old Asian comic books, which are all in black and white and that has had a big influence in my art. I am not departing from color but feel like a limited palette is strong for me right now. I have always been drawn to simple graphic work. My work has evolved into more simpler graphic imagery and i can imagine it will keep simplifying and changing.

Phat Ride by Tommii Lim

SC: Where do you find inspiration and influence on a daily basis?

TL: From you, from him, from her, everywhere. Things i see on the streets, conversations i have or overhear, the shit the media feeds us on tv and internet, pop culture, music, riding bikes, the demons in my head.

Tommii working on a Hurley Mural

SC: As an artist, what message do you carry?

TL: I used to make social and political art but now my work acts more of a diary than anything. I try to keep my paintings as ambiguous as i can. Each piece is a frozen moment in time from some part of my world. They have messages, but that's between the viewer and the piece.

SC: What do you think of the current climate of the art scene?

TL: Cloudy with a chance of....naw, i don't know. i don't go out to too many art shows or read too many magazines. I try to keep it fresh so i try to stay away from the 'art scene'. In the age of the internet, it is 'virtually' impossible to be original but there is dope home grown art out there and of course, a lot of xerox art.

Livevil by Tommii Lim

SC: Where do you see the art scene going in 10 years?

TL: Not sure, but ill be on my hover board watching you suckas!

SC: Which contemporary artists do you most admire and/or are inspired by?

TL: Artists i meet and/or collaborate with, artists who are true to themselves and artists that do it for the love of it. Also get inspiration from gimmicky cheese balls out there that make a fortune portraying an artist, these people inspire me to keep it real.

SC: If I were to spend the day with Tommii, what could I expect?

TL: Depends on what day of the week. On a really good summer day, we would make some art and /or music at my studio in downtown, take pictures of people from my patio, get some coffee, eat dollar tacos, smoke some of God's greens, go for a bike ride to the beach, take a dip then a nap, get some Korean food in Korea Town, ride back to downtown, get some $2.50 beers, if I'm DJing somewhere, go there, dance, drink, smoke, eat and be merry.

SC: What's the one thing you can't live without?

TL: It's a tie. Music and women.

SC: The one thing you can't live with?

TL: Another tie. Black Licorice and dog piss.

SC: What are you creating at the moment?

TL: I started a series involving my surroundings that will connect to create a mega landscape, pretty excited to make it. I am also doing some commercial work with some major surf, skate, snow board and urban brands. I'm always making music on a daily basis as well.

SC: What's on the horizon for Tommii?

TL: New friends, more traveling, making art and just living! I will also be working with a legendary art consultant for some upcoming projects including some big museum exhibtions (that's all i can say for now). I will also be making an art book with my paintings and design work as well as creating art under a new alias in the not to distant future (check my site for details later). I also started Djing and playing keyboard with guitarist Dave Burch under the name 'Legal Aliens' mixing live funk with electronic music, we will be playing more gigs soon. Check out my site for updates in my world, thank you and peace out!

Thanks Tommii!

To learn more about Tommii and his art, visit

Nate Van Dyke goes Off the Strip

What it is Squidlovers,

So we got this here Off the Strip show set to blow the roof off the mother tomorrow, from 7-10pm at the WWA gallery, and if you aren't familiar with the concept let me spin it for you right quick. Basically we love comic strips, and really comics of any kind, so we asked several of our favorite artists to do their own interpretations of classic comic strip characters. The twist you ask? We requested that they take the characters out of their norm and throw them into deplorable, despicable and down right reprehensible situations. I know, sick nasty is what you're thinking.

Anywhos, one of the artists that we asked to dip his dirty pen into the show was Nate Van Dyke, and as per-usual, the man did not disappoint. He brought it with a particularly salacious take on one Hobbes the tiger from Calvin and Hobbes, which after Krazy Kat is my personal favorite strip. You'll get to see it below, but I warn you this ain't no kids show. Once I saw his piece I knew immediately I had to interview him and Mr. Van Dyke was kind enough to oblige. Get ready for all sorts of nonsense. Boom.

DR: Where were you at about 9 pm last night and can anyone corroborate your whereabouts?

NVD: I was at home watching Independence Day, drinking beer and drawing some shit I didn’t want to draw. Just ask Will Smith. He’ll back it all up.

DR: While you create many things, you’ve made quite a name for yourself with your illustrations of anthropomorphic chimps. So how did you get into the monkey business and do you take your monkey business seriously?

NVD: Getting into all of this chimp shit was random. I had done a dozen or so large pieces for a solo show I had about 10 years ago. One of the pieces happened to be this pissed off chimp and everyone loved it. I could have sold that piece 8 times over. Oddly enough it was the only piece in that show which sold. There was a lot of buzz around it so I decided to explore it more. Fast forward a bunch of years and a lot of beers and here I am. Known as the guy who draws the pissed off chimp. I guess it all worked out. And, no, I don’t take my shit that seriously at all.

DR: I love your contribution to Off the Strip, as I am a big fan of Calvin and Hobbes and for some reason it reminds me of my babysitter as a child. Some, however, might call your piece a bit salacious. How important do you think it is to shock you audience from time to time? Do you find it is becoming harder and harder to shock people now a days?

NVD: I don’t really set out to shock people like I may have when I was younger. I’ve learned that you have to draw whatever it may be. Be it a cartoon character about to eat fur burger or a vase of flowers. I’ve learned that you can’t please everyone. As long as I enjoy doing it and get a good piece out of it I’m happy. I actually look at that piece and laugh. I just think it’s funny. I think it’s gotten harder to shock people because there are a lot of people who try and do simply that. I just draw what comes to my mind and thins was one that came to mind when I saw that specific shot of Hobbes in one of the books.

DR: So you are illustrating the new Jurassic Park comic. Considering the history of the franchise that seems like quite the honor. Has it been a challenge? Do you think you could take a T-rex, you know, if it were either you or him?

NVD: Drawing Jurassic Park has been an interesting ride. I’m supposed to be working on it right now. Shhhh! I was quite honored when Bob Schreck contacted me to do it. He kept begging me to take it on and I finally gave in and accepted. It’s cool to be a small part of the franchise. The odd thing about doing comics is you end up having to draw a ton of shit you don’t want to draw in order to tell the story.

I already know I can kick the shit out of a Rex. One night I was getting hammered at home and I drunkenly fell over and completely wrecked this T-Rex splash page. So, yeah… that bitched armed Rex didn’t stand a chance around me.

DR: If you could hang out with one character from the comic pages who would it be and what would you guys do? (If it’s Blondie be careful what you say. Word on the street is Dagwood is nasty jealous and ain’t afraid to cut a bitch.)

NVD: I’d say Calvin but as smart as that kid is it gets a little creepy being that guy who wants to hang with 6 year-old boys. I’d have to say Daphne from the old Scooby Doo cartoons. I had a crush on her when I didn’t even know what you would do with a woman. Also, I could stomp the shit out of Fred if he gave me any beef and that dyke, Velma, doesn’t seem to pose too much of a jealous threat.

DR: Have you ever stolen anything and was it worth the disappointed look in your mother’s eyes? After all she did raise you better than that.

NVD: I remember being a kid at the drug store and they had these toy Hot Wheel cars on display at the register. I started stuffing them into my overalls without a thought in plain sight. I think my mom was pretty embarrassed. I totally thought I had come up with a golden plan.

DR: What inspires you to keep creating, you know, besides the large room of money that you swim in?

NVD: Uncle Scrooge has nothing on my money bin. When not doing the breast stroke through the benjamin’s I’m plotting my next shitty piece of art. I think the only thing that keeps me going at times is having deadlines. A lot of the time when I am drawing it’s not because I want to but rather because someone is waiting on me for pieces. I’ve got a lot of ideas I am looking forward to exploring after I finish this damn comic book.

DR: Do you have any advice for the kids out there that dream of one day being illustrators and look up to Nate van Dyke as an inspiration? And please feel free to include as much profanity as you feel the answer necessitates.

NVD: Don’t do it. Art will rot your brain. Become a doctor. If they still wanna draw cool shit I strongly suggest they try and find their own voice. Don’t copy James Jean, we already have one of those. Get your own voice heard. It’s cool to be inspired by people but make it your own. Don’t go to art school, either. All they care about is your money. If you are good enough to make a living making pretty pictures school is not necessary. I never went to art school and my shit came out ok. The first thing you need to do is get a website with your name in it. Nobody wants to look at your Flickr or MySpace. A website is the most important thing and artist can have. Start fucking someone who can build you a site if you need to. Works for me.

I'd like to thank Nate for taking the time. If you'd like more info on him check this out If you'd like a preview of Off the Strip click this.