Posted Oct 8th 2008 by

Lead image

An interview with
SOKKUANwords by , October 2008

Sokkuan is a super hardworking, talented individual (from Malaysia / based in Singapore) with grand ambitions. She hopes to be a rich fulltime professional housewife: but hopefully she won’t give up on her illustration career. She’s well-versed in a variety of illustration styles, but her Sophie Black character is where she truly shows her charm. I engage Sokkuan in a series of strange and weird questions, with some normal ones thrown in there as well, just so it makes a little sense.

Hello Sokkuan, welcome to “Thundeeeeeeer Chuuuuuuunky”, Thanks for being here!!!! How are you today?

(‚Äòu’) good! But I feel like eating now!

For those who don’t know you, please tell us a bit about yourself in 3 easy-to-follow steps.

• I am Sokkuan Tye, working as a commercial illustrator.
• I have a personal project called Sophie Black.
• I have poor memory and would like to have a simple life.

I was first drawn to your work by your character Sophie Black, with her dark and mysterious charm. What is your first memory of her? Can you tell us about her conception and what she represents?

First memory of her: would be some doodles. I did the doodles to relieve stress during my working hours when I was a graphic designer. It’s a pity that I didn’t keep those doodles.

I love simplicity with necessary details and adore people and things that are in harmonious contradictions, the same way I appreciate black and white.

Sophie Black is the epitome of such paradox. She appears to be mischievous, strange, bewitching and sinister but when told about her appearance she blushes and giggles like a child full of glee. Her long black hair expresses her wildest ideas, her extended eyelashes reveal her desire, and her pale skin reflects her unpretentiousness.

Sophie going party

Sophie Going Party

Sophie after party

Sophie After Party

She has a few beloved friends: Little Black Tress, who rests upon her head, is the only one who understands her weirdest thoughts; Ms Crow, who couldn’t agree more with her the fact that black is, and always will be, the new black; And Ms Owl, whom she stargazes with and peers into a world far and beyond, etc.

Sophie Black evolves as I grow older. Now, at this point of time, I really feel the need to draw her more. Everytime I draw her, I find slight changes in her. However, and no matter how, she will always remind myself to keep that little girl in me forever.

Where will we be likely to see her in the near future?

Hopefully she will be everywhere and anywhere. I hope to have a Sophie Black merchandise series.

Sophie doll

Sophie Doll

Which job would you say helped kick-start your illustration journey during the beginning of your career?

I would say it’s the Nokia L’amour project. I am grateful to the Art Director of this project (Sling) because she has given me the opportunity to work on this project that helped build up a good portfolio for me.

Nokia L'amour

Nokia L’amour (1)

Nokia L'amour

Nokia L’amour (2)

Who/What has influenced your work, during your childhood, and now?

During my childhood? Hmmm: I don’t remember that.

But during my earlier years of working, I was very into Yoshitomo Nara, that naughty evil look in his little girl’s eyes really caught me. It inspired me to do something girly but quirky.

And is there anyone you would really love to work with in the future?

Not particularly anyone. But I cherish every chance and offer that comes to me.

How do you usually approach a design brief, as you like to work in a variety of illustration styles?

Normally art buyers from ad agencies who have my contact will approach me with a style reference as a direction. Sometimes they are open to my suggestions of styles. I have always tried to be versatile with different illustration styles, because this keeps me open to more chances as a commercial illustrator. But I think on top of that, I should have a Sokkuan’s signature style, too.

You have collaborated quite a few times with your partner, illustrator Kuanth, on projects for Heineken, Nokia, Motorola, etc: How do you approach these projects? What’s it like working with Kuanth?

Kuanth is a very important working partner to me. In fact, when I just started as an illustrator, he helped me a lot by introducing me to his contacts. We send our portfolios to different agencies, meet art buyers together, share with each other any chance that will push us to a better level. Besides our own individual projects, we occasionally collaborate on projects that come with heavy load and very tight timeline, which is impossible to be delivered by one person. Working with Kuanth is pleasant. We cover each other, give frank comments to each other, share the same objective which is to create work with a professional standard.

Sophie blacktress

Sophie Blacktress

Sophie hanami

Sophie Hanami

You also held an exhibition together, the ‚ÄòLe monde est a nous ‚Äì The World is Ours’ exhibition in 2007. Was it hard work preparing so many illustrations? And was this your first exhibition?

‚ÄòLe monde est a nous ‚Äì The World is Ours’ was an exhibition series that featured 12 artists in pairs.

Kuanth and me were the 2nd pair. Both of us wanted to introduce our dark characters to the public and thus we subtitled ours as “See you in the dark.” It was a challenge to rush out so many illustrations within a short time with other commissioned jobs looming in the background as well.

Yes, it’s my first exhibition, which has given me a good opportunity to develop Sophie Black’s character more than just a doodle.

See you in the dark

See You In The Dark (1)

See you in the dark

See You In The Dark (2)

What music is usually playing when you are hard at work?

Before my ipod died on me (so sad!!), I played many genre collected from my housemate and friends, like Free Tempo, Mondo Grosso, Ryuichi Sakamoto, UA, Shina Ringo, Bjork, Chara etc.

Ohh, I also love Shiina Ringo/Tokyo Jihen, such a beautiful voice and distinct character (highly recommended listening). Ok, if you weren’t in the creative industry, what other profession do you think you would be doing? Would you be a lazy gardener, like you were in your past life?

I hope I can be a rich fulltime professional housewife, decorating every corner of my house with all my collections of beautiful things, making nice meals for my family. Hahahah:

War room

War room

And if you were an animal, what kind of animal would you use to describe yourself?

Never thought of this. But I like big dogs like golden retriever. So maybe a dog? Simple, loyal and warm.

Have you come across any inspirational or useful art/design websites that you would love to share with our Thunder Chunky audience?

Design*Sponge (this site makes me wanna be a rich fulltime housewife!) and Start Drawing (Drawings from Asia. Drawings by Asians)

Finally, what’s the one thing that everyone should do today?

Lie down and relax.

Sokkuan, has recently completed some illustration work, blending drawings with real-time footage for the movie The Days. Visit her Blog/portfolio to see some short clips and drawings, and please also visit Sophie Black.


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