Thursday, November 5, 2009

Interview with Kokuzo (a.k.a. Franz Liu)

We owe quite alot of interviews. As of now, we still owe interview time to RocknRolla and Noelevz. Well, at least we’ve got one out of the way for now.

Kokuzo, otherwise known as Franz Liu, has been with Foldees since our first XMAS contest back in 2008 entitled “A Comic Book Christmas”. He recently took a few minutes to have a chat over MSN about how he started drawing since he was a kid, and the unique way he lets ideas come to him.


CHAK: So, let's start with the basic stuff. How'd you become a graphic designer?

KOKUZO Hmmmm... simply I can say drawing is just like my daily food since I was a lil kid, so when graduate from high school, I decide to study in 2008102323365400850284316046_Kokuzo - Snowboarding Santa (Cover)design, visual communication design actually...and here I am now.

CHAK: So how old were you when you started and what kinda stuff did you draw?

KOKUZO Wow... maybe I should ask my mom about this question. Can't remember....hahaha

CHAK: Okay, what's the first thing you remember drawing?

KOKUZO if I don’t get it wrong, I drew some stick man on the wall in my room or maybe almost everywhere in the house, and my mom began to grumbling all day

CHAK: Did you get spanked?

KOKUZO Fortunately not...and I'm thankful for that because if my parents stopped me from doing all that thing, I won’t be here now. Maybe I'd study accounting or business in college.

CHAK: What do your parents do?

KOKUZO They're entrepreneurs, producing homemade cake and bakery, kinda like that.

CHAK: Did you study design in Indonesia or overseas?

KOKUZO My hometown is in Medan, Sumatera. Very close to M'sia right? Perhaps you've been there? Or not? Anyway, I studied design in Bandung, West Java.

CHAK: Your English is quite good... where'd you pick that up?

KOKUZO Movie I guess. Hahaha

CHAK: I think I picked mine up from Voltron :)

KOKUZO I just about to apologize you if my grammar is broken. Hahaha...yeah, English is very very rarely use in my country

Inspirations: Mickey Mouse, Manga and Singaporean women.

CHAK: And who are your idols?

KOKUZO Wow... so many. But maybe I can say Walt Disney inspired me the most, and that guy created SpongeBob, (dang, I forgot his name) he's brilliant. For comics, I like Takehiko Inoue. We can say manga actually, cos I seldom reading western comics.4049557905_b6bb7f4eda

CHAK: Ah...but your art style is not really that manga.

KOKUZO Hahahaha... that’s a bit long story you know? Actually we're targeted to be a creative director or any position in advertising field. I still got my manga style drawing until couple years ago. Then, almost 1,5 years I stopped drawing and focusing on advertising... photography, digital imaging, copywriting, wicked idea, something like that. 

I only draw sketches for idea visualization. But I thought "hey, drawing is what I do since I was a lil kid, why stop doin’ it now?" Then like someone back from hell, I started drawing again and on that time, my friend offer me a project, drawing cartoon and maybe I can say that’s the starting point of my drawing style right now.

CHAK: Is that your day job now?

KOKUZO the project is for promotional purpose of a vehicle dealer company - not exactly became my day job, but still got projects from that same client. I just graduated 2 weeks ago... and I'm planning to find job in Singapore after Chinese New Year. Until then, I'll be a freelancer

CHAK: what's your interest in Singapore? I remember we sent your prize there the first time you won on Foldees

KOKUZO hahaha, I knew you’d ask that. Becoz my girlfriend is there. Good memory Chak...haha

CHAK: is she a graphic designer as well?

KOKUZO yep, same college, same class with me. Couple times I asked her to join Foldees... but she's too busy for that

CHAK: it's okay. We’ll pay her to keep you happy. So how'd you first hear about us and what were your initial thoughts?

KOKUZO I was browsing web and somehow I found a web named or something like that and I saw mostly the contests are logo, logo and logo. And then I found Foldees, vector drawing, and thought "Wow, that’s what I'm looking for!” Because at that time I just started to learn AI, so I think it's nothing to lose to join. That time I was still learning AI - the tools, effects, etc...still tried to understand the software.

My college teach Corel draw as vector too, but I thought the colour is not that nice. Then my friend suggested me to use AI so I learned by myself by reading the help tab, and sometimes when I got stuck, I search tutorials online.

The Drawing Cycle: It all starts in the bathroom.kokuzo-teddy-sketch

CHAK: How does your drawing cycle start? Let's start with the ideas.

KOKUZO Talkin about this one, it's really depending a lot with my mood. Sometimes it can pop out from nowhere, but sometimes it won't come out even a bit. But tell you a secret - I got mostly my idea while 'relaxing' in bathroom in the morning. While 'relaxing'.

CHAK:'s not going to be a secret anymore after this interview goes up

KOKUZO Dang! I shouldn’t tell you that. Now I regret.

CHAK: we will start selling laxatives on Foldees to our designers so they spend more time "relaxing" (compliments with ROLLEES).

KOKUZO Another nice business idea

CHAK: So after the idea, do you need to write it down or draw it out immediately?

KOKUZO Usually I just write it down first with the key words. Then in my free time, I'll draw it.

CHAK: On paper? I remember seeing one of your scanned sketch layers for your Monochrome submission

KOKUZO Oh that one... while checking the file, I remember I forgot to delete the layer, and I thought "oh cr*p".

That drawing I made in Corel painter actually. But before I start to draw digitally, I always draw n doodle on paper first and I'll keep sketching until I satisfied. Then I'll start to draw in digitally

CHAK: So besides us and the vehicle dealer, who else gets to benefit from your work?

KOKUZO Mostly are friends or friend of friends or friends of client.FYI, I also had worked in design studio for handipoints online game, that’s what I do for about a year until last august

CHAK: And how come you don't have a proper website?

KOKUZO Haha... told you I just got back from hell to illustration world. I want to focus on illustration, and now what I want to do first is making many, many good portfolio. Once satisfied, I'll make the proper one. Actually I really, really want to enter this and that contest, but sometimes have no time between college work and freelancing. But I've finished my study, so I think from now I'll try to submit in many contests, just to kill time before I go to Singapore.

CHAK: Don't forget about us once you're famous aight? Anything else you wanna add?

KOKUZO Dunno, nothing I guess, you're the interviewer. ask I answer.

CHAK: about this? Any advice to other designers out there after winning?

KOKUZO Wow, this tough... I'll look like a smartass by answering that... but I think voters on Foldees like funny, cute cards. Also idea is important, so I just try to design according to that. I remember my Halloween design, I like it personally, and you said you guys like it so much (if you're not lying). But not many people like it...not cute enough I guess.

CHAK: Awesome.

KOKUZO. Thanks alot.

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