I N T E R V I E W with @koyorin
A lot of people are interested in your origin story. Could you tell us a bit more about how you became an illustrator?
I’ve always liked drawing, and I’ve always liked creating characters in video games and customizing them—eventually those two things culminated in drawing a lot of characters when I was younger, both original content and fan art. In middle and high school I was pretty much drawing all of the time, and in my own time when I wasn’t doing homework I was either drawing, playing games, or working on music.
However, despite all of that, it had never occurred to me that there would be a career in any of those things, and I didn’t even think about becoming an illustrator or studying art until I was nearing the end of my time in high school and was thinking about what I wanted to study in university. It was only then it dawned on me that I could study art /illustration and then subsequently pursue a career in it!
I applied to OCADU in Toronto after high school, and that’s where I went to study Drawing and Painting, and later transferred into the school’s Illustration program. After four years of study, including a hefty thesis project, I graduated and I was prepared to start searching for studio positions but ended up landing some freelance projects that same year. Ever since then I’ve been freelancing, taking on different projects—typically based in animation and video games—and here we are today, still freelancing!
This seems to be your first apparel collaboration. How do you feel about it, was it a natural fit with your designs? Can you tell us how the creative process went and if it was any different from what you usually do?
I think working with a more graphic style for the apparel worked in line with what I normally feel comfortable doing! So I feel like adapting to the process was pretty straightforward for me, since breaking things down into minimal/selective colours wasn’t a super difficult process given my normal workflow—though the most difficult part of that was probably deciding which colours had to be omitted to work within the constraints, and finding creative ways to work around those conditions!
Would you consider yourself a fashion enthusiast? What brands are you into?
If anything I think I’m a casual fashion enthusiast, haha. While I don’t spend a lot of time watching fashion events or looking up specific brands/ items, I do end up looking at a lot of streetwear photography and fashion magazines for inspiration and reference. So most of the time what I end up looking for is primarily for the purpose of illustration, and not for my own wardrobe, although every now and again a standout piece I find during research might make its way to my wardrobe if it’s affordable!
What would you recommend to young artists who are starting today?
Practice your foundation skills (colour theory, perspective, anatomy, etc.), remember to take care of your mental and physical health, and don’t get caught up comparing yourself to others as everyone’s artistic journey and life is different! I think those three things are the biggest takeaways I’ve learned in the past several years (heavily condensed, of course).
Video Games seem to be a huge part of your like and inspiration, what are your favorite games of all time?
Video games are for sure a huge inspiration for me, since it’s also my biggest hobby aside from drawing! I think some of my favourite games of all time would have to include Bloodborne, the Dark Souls series, Final Fantasy XIV, God Eater, Gravity Rush 1 & 2, NieR: Replicant/Gestalt, NieR: Automata, VA-11 HALL-A, Undertale, Xenoblade Chronicles, and many, many more.
What about movies and music?
I have many favourite films, some of my favourite movies include Akira, Blade Runner, Paprika, and most Studio Ghibli films since I grew up watching them! Also many anime series, some of which have films but the series were usually better haha.
I have a bit of a wider history with music than film however, since making music used to be a big hobby of mine as well. I love many genres of music, but my roots are in hardcore punk and metal, so a lot of my favourite bands fall under those genres. And I also love a lot of music from video games, and spend a lot of time listening to OSTs from games like Final Fantasy XIV, Monster Hunter, Nier, VA-11 HALL-A, and many others. A mix of some long time and more recent favourite bands would be Converge, Covet, Deafheaven, Ghost, Hyakkei, Mutyumu, Pallbearer, etc.!
What is the project you’ve been the proudest to be a part of?
I think I’m honestly quite proud of every released project I’ve been part of! Every one of them has been a pretty unique experience and I don’t think I can fairly rank them against each other since I’m happy with them all for different reasons, haha. The biggest project I’ve been a part of to date however, is probably Haven, a game I’ve been working with The Game Bakers on (the studio behind Furi, the Squids series of games, Combo Crew, etc.) I’ve been working with them as character artist, and producing 2D assets for the game!
What is the future of KOYORIN? Anything exciting you could share with us?
I have some projects that have yet to be released which I contributed some small character designs to, but at this very moment there’s nothing major I can share! As for what’s in store…if there’s one certain thing about freelance, it’s the fact that it is uncertain haha. I definitely want to take up more animation and character design projects, and perhaps release some more clothing/ merchandise!
The greater, eventual goal would be to work on establishing an IP and perhaps even helping to direct an animation or video game project based on my own characters/ideas/world! Of course that’s still quite far down the road (and unclear if it will ever happen), but that’s definitely a dream of mine haha. And as an avid figure collector, producing figures from there would also be incredible!
But yeah! In the meantime…tough to say what will come soon, but I am looking forward to what the future has to offer!