Kathy Lam

This illustrator’s portfolio-come-bestiary combines an assertive drawing style with an incongruous wit. 

Large head in mind  pencil  2013

Head in mind, pencil, 2013

Describe your workspace to us.

My workplace is a big table with a small bookshelf and cupboard on it in my bedroom. 

What are you working on right now?

Recently I’ve been working freelance with a games company to create characters for a mobile app. I’m also about to start on a ‘zine project with few artists from Hong Kong, some of whom I studied with. We had the first briefing last week so we’re only just at the beginning. We plan to have a related exhibition this autumn in a venue called Leekeestore in Wan Chai, the theme being set around our personal explorations of Hong Kong. I’m keen to base my contribution on the city’s old tenement buildings; they are particularly fascinating and a topic that I have previously explored in my work. The ‘zine is still not an established format over here, so we are excited to be introducing our work through what remains an unfamiliar medium. 

Large huhhuhhuhhuh  pencil  2013

Huhhuhhuhhuh, pencil, 2013

Large go back    pencil 2013

Go back!, pencil,2013

Large i like your face  pencil  2013

I like your face, pencil, 2013

Large because i am smart  pencil  2013

Because I am smart, pencil, 2013

Your work is often captioned – what comes first, the image or the text?

Usually the image comes first. I’ll sometimes just start drawing when I discover a photo that inspires me. The captions are quite random: some are inexplicable and some the result of my mood at time of creation. 

Why is humour so central to your work?

Maybe because there are so many frustrating things in life – the humour is a way of trying to handle those difficulties, to relax through my work. Occasionally I find it hard to express various kinds of negative feelings in front of people. By changing them into humorous images they become an easier form of communication or emotional consonance. 

Large beat me  pencil 2013

Beat me, pencil,2013

Large read    pencil  2013

Read!!, pencil, 2013

Large i only have banana  pencil and photoshop  2013

I only have banana, pencil, 2013

Large i crash  pencil and photoshop  2013

I crash, pencil, 2013

Who are your heroes?

Honestly, I don't have any heroes. However, I watched a documentary about Bruce Lee last month and that made an impression on me. It’s not simply his huge achievement as a film star or as a martial artist, I’m most impressed by his passion, confidence and humour, as well as the way he treated his family and his friends. Perhaps he is going to become my first hero. 

What’s been the best and worst reactions to your work?

I think the best reaction is simply when people remember my work and gain some kind of joy from it. I haven’t received any terrible reactions so far, though there are obviously some negative comments from tutors that are part and parcel of studying, such as the aims of a project not being clear. (I find thinking about my work in terms of concept a bit of a headache at times).

Large the smoking dog  clay  2013

The smoking dog, clay, 2013

Large slum  paper and cardboard  2012

Slum, paper and cardboard, 2012

Large toilet crow  clay  2013

Toilet crow, clay, 2013

Large animal on the house  paper and cardboard  2013

Animal on the house, paper and cardboard, 2013

What would be your fantasy commission?

I would be interested in collaborating with people working in the toy industry, as I would like to see my animals become puppets or figurines of some sort. That would be really fantastic. I’d also like to start working with magazines. 

Where would you like to be in a year’s time?

There are still many things that I haven’t resolved as a practitioner and it’s not always easy to know how to progress after graduation, but I have applied to participate in a few art fairs over the coming months and that is something positive to work towards. Although there remain some old projects that I haven't shown in public before, I need to keep on developing new things – for instance I’m increasingly interested in working in three dimensions with clay models and paper sculptures.