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Meet illustrator from Kuala Lumpur, Karmen Loh aka Bearbrickjia

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Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m an independent digital illustrator. I really love Japanese manga and anime, movies, as well as Kpop and traditional Chinese aesthetics. I think these influenced me a lot in my artwork creations. I also really love travelling and exploring new places, sometimes I will create artworks based on my travel experiences. I’m not good with words, and I wish to express my thoughts and feelings through art.


Describe the city you’re living in and what it’s like to live there.

I live in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The weather is nice, and it’s multiracial here, I’m lucky for being exposed to many different cultures since young and get to learn many different languages.


What is the best and worst thing about living in your city?

The best thing is the ease of access to big shopping malls, nice cafes, concerts and events, and good food. The worst thing would be traffic jam and the inconvenience of public transport.


Give us 3 words that describe what it’s like to be a creative in your city.

Diverse, passionate, multicultural.


How did you start your career in art?

Art has been part of my life for as long as I can remember. I’m always drawing and scribbling since I was a kid. When I grew older, I decided to pursue this passion and joined an art college to study 3D animation. After graduating from college, I realized that I was more interested in illustration. Luckily, with my illustration portfolio that I had worked on in my free time, I received an opportunity to work in a video game company as a character concept artist. After a few years, I’ve decided to leave the company and work as a freelance illustrator.


Were the people around you supportive of your decision on working as a creative?

My whole family are artists and my supportive parents allow me to explore and pursue art freely, that’s the main reason why I’m able to focus on my passion without any obstacles. If it wasn’t because of them, I might have chosen another career that I probably don’t enjoy doing, therefore I’m grateful.


What are some goals and ambitions you have for your future work?

I wish to release my own artbook and maybe have a solo art exhibition one day!


If you could collaborate with any person in the world who would it be?

Hayao Miyazaki, his films are one of my biggest inspirations.


What are the biggest challenges you face in working as a creative?

Artblock and self-doubt. Sometimes I would get very demotivated when I run out of ideas to draw, I feel stuck and it gets very frustrating, I will start to have self-doubt during those times, thinking that I’m not good enough and keep comparing myself to other artists. Another big challenge is the negative comments from people when I post my artworks online, although I understand it’s impossible to make everyone like my art, it still hurts when people attack me just because they don’t like what I draw. But as time passed, I’m slowly learning to control how I think and take care of my mental health.


How would you describe the women around you?

I’ve met many women creators, they are independent and passionate about what they do.


Were there any local female creatives that you looked up to when you were growing up?

Unfortunately no, most of them are from overseas. Does my mom count? She was a fashion designer and taught me how to draw human proportions when I was young!


Do you have any advice for other women who are aspiring to work in your field?

Make the kind of art that you enjoy and feel proud of! Sometimes people may say harsh things to you, and things can be tough, you need to have faith in yourself and do what you think is right.


What type of music do you like to listen to?

I’m open to all types of music as long as they sound good to me. I like K-pop and K-indies, classical, soundtracks, instrumentals.


What’s your favorite local food spot?

My house haha, it’s the most relax spot.


Angie Son asks: What’s your secret to staying motivated?

Hmm I’m still looking for the answer to this haha. I guess it’s really hard to stay motivated all the time because we are human and we get tired sometimes. During those times, I will just take a holiday and relax, treat myself to some good food and binge watch shows. And when I’m into a show, I will feel motivated to draw again.


Masae Seki asks: Who are your top 3 inspirations (doesn’t need to be artists!)

There are so many, it’s really hard to just pick top 3. If I have to pick, it would be Hayao Miyazaki, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry(The Little Prince is one of my favorite books), Jiro Ono(He makes the best sushi in the world, you should watch his documentary!)


What question would you like us to ask the next artist?

How does your dream work space looks like?



Photos courtesy of Bearbrickjia