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Meet the artist behind the whimsical illustrations in Gentle Bones’ & Myrne's video for "JU1Y"

This talented pop surrealist artist is one to watch

By Adam Kerr | Sep 12, 2017

  • Meet the artist behind the whimsical illustrations in Gentle Bones’ & Myrne's video for "JU1Y"
    JU1Y by Gentle Bones and Myrne

What's one thing that Gentle Bones and Myrne have in common? They were both signed to huge record labels just two years ago. The former is the first Singaporean under Universal Music, with a "360-degree deal" that includes recording and publishing rights, merchandise, endorsements and events; while the latter is now represented as an indie-electronic producer on Diplo's record label, Mad Decent.

Their latest collaborative release, “JU1Y”, is a fun track born out of mutual admiration for each other’s work. It's a really fun and fresh track that dabbles with bits of house and electronic funk that neither one has attempted in their respective records before. “We were bored with the music that was coming out of our respective circles,” Myrne said.

The track has been out for just over a month now, but they recently dropped the video a few days back, and we liked what we saw. While it showcases the duo in real life situations—preparing for a shoot, interviews with the media and a "live performance" (Gentle Bones goes into an awkward but endearing dance)—the winner of the video has to be the super whimsical and kitsch illustrations, courtesy of one art student who’s relatively new (but no less talented) in the industry.

Say hello to Howie Kim, a digital visual artist and student at Lasalle College of the Arts. This 27-year-old who proudly owns the fact that he is part of the digital generation is “obsessed with pop culture, celebrities, social media and kitsch aesthetics” and looks to Mark Ryden, an American pop painter who's part of the Lowbrow (or pop surrealist) art movement, as his inspiration. Here, he tells us more.

When and how did your interest in art begin?

As a child I've always loved drawing. But I never really thought that I could do anything with it till I was much, much older.

What are some of the challenges of dabbling in digital media?

The digital medium is very different from my paintings in terms of process, techniques and visual outcomes. But as different as they are, they often inform the way I work with each other. I guess the main challenge faced is the technicality of the programs I use to create my digital works. But with that said, it’s something I enjoy a lot, and it’s very exciting to see where it leads my future works.

Just three months ago, you held your very first solo exhibition at the Artistry. Can you tell us more about that?

I am currently at a point where my creative direction is in transition. A lot of my past works are very personal and deal with loss; they work almost as a form of escapism for me. I’ve been trying to move out of that, but not completely putting it away. As of late, I’ve been interested in the idea of millennials; its stereotypes, the implications of the label as well as exploring what it actually means to be one.

There's a sort of negative, entitled, self-absorbed narcissistic image portrayed by the media that I am interested in as it all sounded too familiar and relatable. I think it's crucial for my works to reflect myself and vice versa. Titled The Millennial Funfair, the exhibition featured previous and new works of both themes. However, despite the two vastly different themes, I think they all kind of go together in a show as I think my works often have a certain “funfair” whimsicality about them.

What was the big idea behind the moving illustrations in the video for "JU1Y"?

Joel (Gentle Bones) and his team approached me with the idea. In the music video, he wanted my part to be a break away from the real world where he escapes into a kind of fantasy-animated world. My idea of this fantasy was a psychedelic trip that takes them high up into space and later to the deep dark reccesses of the sea, and eventually coming back to reality. It was great working with them, and Joel gave me a lot of creative space to explore the track and materialize my part both conceptually and visually.

Could you briefly run through your creative process with us?

My creative process usually begins with a theme or topic I want to express or talk about. From there, I put that message into a visual sketch or digital collage, and then eventually work towards the final outcome. I have an obsession with chaos, and adding a lot of elements to my works. Sometimes I just keep working/adding on until I'm satisfied. 

What do you think Singapore's art scene is lacking?

Personally, I think that there is not enough of a push for artistic appreciation here, or at least that was how I felt while growing up. Before enrolling into an art school, I never really thought I could do anything with it.

What do you hope to achieve with your art?

To be honest, I’m more interested in what my audiences take away from my works rather than what I’m actually trying to communicate. People often interpret my works differently and that is great for me. What’s important to me is that my works satisfy me and make me happy.

In less than 10 words, describe your style of art.

Gothic Britney on a unicorn, colliding into trucks of toys.

Howie still has some works from The Millennial Funfair that are currently on sale here. Follow him on Instagram.

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