Christine Lim is an award-winning art director and designer with a background in CG, motion design, and illustration, as is evident in the blended and diversified nature of her work. She joins us from Warner Bros. Discovery, where she led the design development and implementation of marketing strategies and brand communications across networks like Discovery Channel, Food Network, and HGTV.
AX: What is the key to being an effective art director?
CL: Developing excellent verbal and written communication skills would be the most obvious answer, but I would also add: being open-minded and curious about life, people, and the world in general. Art and creative direction hinges on one’s ability to cultivate and draw from their visual library and build one’s personal taste, and that takes years of consuming art, media, environments, culture, and experiences. I think great creative ideas come through when artists give themselves the opportunity to find inspiration in unusual places, and not just from other artists’ work.
AX: As an art director, whose work do you admire?
CL: I could go on for several days with this but I’ll try to keep this short. The works of Patrick Clair, Raoul Marks, Karin Fong, Ash Thorp, Nidia Dias, and Joyce N. Ho have been a constant source of inspiration for me, and I’ve been following their creative journeys for a long time. I also follow directors, artists, and studios across a wide range of disciplines, but one that sticks out to me particularly lately is Fortiche Productions. They’re the French animation studio behind Arcane, a Netflix show based on Riot Games’ League of Legends lore.
AX: What is the most challenging aspect of being an art director?
CL: The role of an art director can vary depending on the industry/company/team but I find that no matter the circumstances, you’re hardly ever working alone in a silo. One of the biggest challenges is consolidating feedback and ideas from everyone involved in the creative process, including clients, and maintaining some level of cohesion and consistency in the visual language that the team is going for. The art director is often the liaison between the creative director and the individual artists and designers, so you have to get really good at taking overarching, sometimes abstract, ideas from multiple sources and distilling them into actionable tasks that can be communicated to an entire team.
AX: What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue a career within art/design?
CL: Don’t worry so much about finding a personal style when you’re still early in the game. Research and study the work of artists/creators you admire and, as Bruce Lee once said, “Absorb what is useful, discard what is not. Add what is uniquely your own.”
AX: In an industry that is always changing, what is one thing that has stayed the same?
CL: Being empathetic and respectful towards the people you work with is a mentality that never goes out of fashion.
AX: What was your first job in the design field, and how did this job influence you today?
CL: I was a college student and worked part-time at Universal Music Group as a visual designer, making banner ads and microsites for recording artists like Lil Wayne. Digital marketing has come a long way since then, but I’m glad I learned the ropes from the professional designers I met at this job. All the tips and tricks I learned from them are engraved into my brain to this day.
AX: How do current trends within the design community influence your work?
CL: A big part of my job is collecting references of existing work and building a visual foundation on which a project’s mood and identity will be based. It’s hard to avoid past or current trends when I’m usually looking for examples in a certain style, or when a client specifically requests a certain look and feel.
AX: How does new technology or technique influence your work?
CL: Technology and techniques are merely tools, or a means to reach an end product. As an artist, I see them as ways to shave off time in my workflow so I don’t have to spend hours waiting for a render or doing something manually. As a consumer and someone who’s interested in game development, I’m excited to see what digital art/experiences are going to look like in the near future.
AX: In what ways has art influenced you in other areas of your life?
CL: I’m super fortunate that my personal fixations on oddly specific subcultures within music, games, and movies have led me to meet and become friends with some wonderfully talented and cool people.
AX: How do you spend your free time?
CL: I actively try to unplug and not look at a screen.