With her signature playing card series, Connie Lim and her girls have become the darling of the fashion illustration world
Los Angeles-based illustrator and fashion designer Connie Lim has created a gothic high fashion fantasy world of manga-eyed waif muses with a talent for seductive, just don’t give a fuck glamour. Stung by a love of drawing since a young age, Connie Lim crossed the pond to England after art school to study at Central St. Martins, where she earned a degree in Fashion Design and Marketing. In recent years, fashion illustration has gone from being a component of design to a creative field entirely on its own. Connie’s Creative DNA perfectly intertwines these two worlds. Her fashion designs and illustrative styles are in deep symbiosis depicting dark, elegant and mysterious women and designs with a playful edginess. With her signature playing card series, Connie and her girls have become the darlings of the fashion illustration world. We met up with Connie to uncover the mysteries behind artist and creation.
If only her sketches would come alive in both muse and fashion alike…
“The women in my drawings reflects the woman I wish I was or is not who I am myself as a person. I live through these characters I create and it’s fun to imagine being a different person with a totally different life than what I have led.”–Connie Lim
CM: Why do you draw?
I took an interest to drawing at a very young age when my father bought me a pack of pencils for my 6th birthday. The drawing stemmed from there and I realized as a young kid the process of simply putting line on paper. I was fascinated by the power I had in creating anything I imagined.
CM: When did you first decide to pursue illustration as a career?
I went to art college for illustration and hadn’t really planned to be a professional illustrator. After attending for 2 years, I applied to London to pursue fashion design and so it happened quite by accident as I continued to draw on the side during university. I guess my first breakthrough was when I was featured on Dazed and Digital back in 2009. From then on I got countless re-blogs and e-mails regarding my work.
CM: Can you tell us about your background in fashion design? Have you considered bringing your fashion sketches to life?
I studied at Central Saint Martins in London and graduated with a BA. What makes the biggest difference studying here is that the course is concept driven. It was great training for me as a designer as well as an illustrator because it gave me incentive to explore meanings and reasoning within my chosen subject. During my time here, I have brought my sketches to life from the initial idea to final fittings. It’s quite interesting to see my drawings come to life but I rather have had others make the real garments rather than myself, as I enjoyed more of the designing/drawing process.
CM: What advice do you have for freelancers following similar paths? What do you wish someone had told you when your were starting out?
Freelance is quite difficult and unstable and took me a while to get to terms with it. I would stress the importance of getting your legal documents in order first and make sure to get contracts signed and agreements in place before getting into any projects. Get half of your earnings first beforehand as a deposit.
”When I’m in LA, I usually work all through the night as I find the city at its best then. In London, I wake up early to work as I’m more creative then.”–Connie Lim
CM: Can you tell us more about the women in your drawings? Who is she?
The women in my drawings reflect the woman I wish I was or is not who I am myself as a person. I’m quite a bubbly but I love drawing women who are rebellious or have a certain dark attitude. I live through these characters I create and it’s fun to imagine being a different person with a totally different life than what I have led.
CM: How does social media play into your success as a creative?
Social media is a great free tool to promote yourself. In this day, there is no need to pay for an ad in a magazine, you can use Instagram, Facebook, or Tumblr to get your work out there. For me, it’s an essential tool in communicating with others and just putting your work out there.
CM: What tools do you use?
I always use a pencil to begin with but my other usuals are gouache, watercolor, and micron pens.
CM: How would you describe your style?
I would say my style is quite dark and mysterious due to my large use of black and white.
CM: Can you tell us more about whats behind the playing cards?
The playing cards started when I was in art college back in LA. I drew the four queens as my final project for my fashion illustration class. I really enjoyed the process of the cards, so I thought to myself that one day I would come back to the project and complete the whole deck. I dabbled at it over the years, drawing a piece here and there. But I seriously go into it and finished it just at the end of last year. The cards are very personal to me. It shows my journey along 8 years from when I was 20 years old, representing this decade of my life. Each drawing entails the experiences and emotions I was feeling when I was creating it. It’s a special project.
CM: Describe your studio.
I’ve been traveling the past 2 years and haven’t had my own studio for a while! But I love modern minimalism; all my studio had was a desk, loud speakers, hooka bong, and a coffee maker.
CM: Do you draw inspiration from listening to music? Top songs on your work playlist?
I always listen to music while I work and it effects what I do. My top songs are varied as I love each genre in its own right. As of now, I would say it is Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q –Man of the Year, some Matt Zo, mixes, Labyrinth Ear- Humble Bones, Major Lazor – Get Free, Chromatics –Running up that Hill just to name a few..
CM: Are you a creative night owl or more inspired during the day?
It depends on where I am in the world. When I’m in LA, I usually work all through the night as I find the city at its best then. In London, I wake up early to work as I’m more creative then.
CM: You split your time between LA, London, New York… how do you find these cities as creative hubs? Which inspires you the most?
I love each city as it has its own characteristics and creative energy. LA is quite comfortable as I grew up here, a real chill vibe. I tend not to worry when I’m in LA and draw without pressure. In NY and London, the energy is strong and fast paced. Sometimes I feel so anxious that I’m missing out that it’s hard to focus with so many interesting things going on. However, I must say London inspires me most as it’s a foreign place for me. I’m American so LA and New York is my norm. The British culture fascinates me and inspires me in a completely different way.
CM: You recently worked on the ‘House of Cards,’ can you tell us more about what it was like translating your work into installation art?
I was invited to contribute to the ‘House of Cards’ project and I was pleasantly surprised by the piece as a whole. It was amazing to see my work in that scale in the beautiful city of Amsterdam. I feel like the installation gave another meaning to my cards. It was a different interaction than with the actual playing card deck I’ve produced. It would be interesting to see my illustrations in a larger scale such as graffiti art.
CM: If you could collaborate with any other creative, who would it be?
If I could collaborate with someone at the moment, it would be with House of Malakai. I find his work inspiring! I actually did my up coming pencil series based on some of his work.
CM: What’s next for you?
I teach life drawing and fashion illustration so I would like to setup a drawing studio to encourage others in this field when I’m in London. Then if it goes well, I would like my drawing studio to evolve to a print (for textiles) studio, specialising in hand drawn images. I also would love to publish my work as an art book, that would be a dream.