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HEAT Interview – Timothy Lim

Timothy Lim is licensed as an audiologist, but that isn’t why we are here. We are her because Mr. Lim is also an accomplished freelance illustrator whose popular culture and video game designs have been getting around in many big ways including on G4’s Attack of the Show, MTV’s Splash Blog, Super Punch, Comics Alliance, Fashionably Geek, TeeFury, and RIPT Apparel. I caught up with Timothy and he was kind enough to answer a few of my questions:

James Arledge – First of all, can you give our readers a little bit of a bio of you: Where you come from and how you got started as a freelance artist?

Timothy Lim – I’m a native of Little Rock, Arkansas – I’ve lived and studied in Europe during my undergraduate / post baccalaureate years, but Arkansas has definitely been my home since the beginning. I don’t think there’s a definite point where I started to be a freelance artist – I would just do random projects for friends whenever they’d ask and whenever it would be convenient. The time I hit constant pay was last year, when I started to give shirt design another look and found that there was a lot of pressure and support from my friends to pursue it – it can be argued that that’s really where I started attaching a monetary value to a lot of my work.

JA – When did you realize you had a knack for the arts?

TL – I never really thought that I did: I just like to draw. People tell me that they liked my work, which I appreciated ever since grade school. I was never encouraged by family to pursue art as nothing more than a hobby, so that’s exactly what I did. I did great in our high school’s extracurricular art program and designed all of our homecoming / prom t-shirts and backdrops, but not once in my childhood did I ever win a single art contest. I seriously thought my work was designed for lowbrow humorists!

JA – Your work seems to be deeply rooted in pop culture, video games and of course guinea pigs. Where did your passion for these things come from?

TL – I draw what I like. I think that entertainment’s goal should be to entertain and to amuse, so, being amused by these things, I try to pass that on, artistically. I grew up on cartoon culture, comics, and video games up until high school and loved the storytelling that went into a lot of them. Being artificial mediums that require a certain level of craftsmanship, I saw that there was a lot of artistry involved in these mediums and I’ve always appreciated that. My guinea pigs are like muses – they keep my blood pressure down and soften a lot of jadedness that might come my way!

JA – If you had to pick one person that inspires you the most artistically, who would it be?

TL – From the beginning, that’s always been Joe Madureira. I was a self-taught artist and it wasn’t really until I saw his work that I said, “I want to draw just like that.” To this date, I pick up anything that he does. I love studying his pencils, inks, and composition and trying to see the page as he sees it.

JA – You are a licensed Audiologist, successful freelance graphic designer and know like 4 languages, my god man, where do you find the time?

TL – Who says that I have time?! I don’t know, a lot of this has been things I picked up over years of experience. I grew up in a bi-lingual household and we were required to take a foreign language in high school. In college, I studied in France and later on in Austria, all the while keeping art as a hobby. Audiology entered my life 4 years ago, and I made that my second vocation. It hasn’t been easy, but I’m somehow still afloat!

JA – Do you have any sort of creative process? If so, what do you feel is the most important part?

TL – About 45% of my work is a team effort. I have 3 very close friends: Mark Pellegrini, Robert Simpson, and Jean Luc-Pham. They are incredibly brilliant minds, walking think-tanks, and they feed me with a lot of imaginative ideas that I can’t do on my own. I have a pretty active imagination so I’m always trying to cross reference things to see how they’d work and flow. I think the most important part of what I do is being resourceful: I collect art books and images and every day I make sure to study something artistic to see if it fires something in my fevered mind. I love studying art styles and “knocking them off” in a way that comes close (hopefully).

JA – If you could tackle any art project you wanted what would it be and why?

TL – I’d love to be a cover artist. I’m too slow and untrained for panel work, but I love stand-alone covers for books, comics, and magazines. I’ll also take any job offer from Disney!

JA – Besides graphic design, are there any other mediums of art you enjoy working with?

TL – I used to do all my work in acrylic and airbrush, but that’s expensive. My second preference is straight up pencils, inks, and markers: they’re cheap, easy to use, and closely mimic my approach when I’m drafting and finishing a composition.

JA – Is there any advise you can give for aspiring artist?

TL – I would say that persistence is more important than practice. Practice is a given: you get better every time, but so many artists want to give up because it’s an uphill battle. You can’t do that: I would stow away my old art and never look at it for years, because I knew that it would be a downer. Knowing what things impact you negatively is important: if you’re surrounding yourself with influences and opinions, critiques and criticisms that are going to slow you down, don’t go near them. Put your finished work aside, pretend that it never happened, and move forward.

See more of what Tim does:

Deviantart: Ninjaink

Facebook: Ninjaink: The art of Timothy Lim

Tumblr: Team Ninjaink

Redbubble: Ninjaink


James Arledge
James Arledge
James is a passionate gamer and artist. He attended ITT Technical Institute and received an Associates Degree in Graphic Design, which led him to get an internship with The Heat Magazine as a Graphic Designer. His passion for gaming has led him to create and take the title of Editor-in-Chief of good2knowgames on the world's premiere video platform, You Tube. The video game industry is rapidly growing and that is something James strives to continue to be an integral part of, for many years to come.


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