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

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