One of my favorite parts of any convention is wandering the Artist Alley – a hub of budding (or established) talent that runs the gamut in terms of artistic style and formats. From cute chibi-style renditions of your favorite characters to original works spanning multiple books, not to mention pins, plushies, pillows and more…there’s plenty to discover within the halls of the artist alley.
One such artist/studio is Collateral Damage Studios. A graphic design firm based out of Singapore, CDS has produced unique characters for clients such as Microsoft, Anime Expo, and most recently Anime Fest. They graciously took the time to sit down with us and discuss their background and recent projects at Anime Fest this last weekend.
Tell us a little bit about Collateral Damage Studios – how did you get started?
KC: We are a professional art studio based out of Singapore, and we provide art services to our clients around the world. We started out as a group of friends producing doujin and started out on the convention circuit. That provided us the opportunity to meet new people and introduce our work to others, including various anime communities around the world.
When did you realize that you had more potential? When did it turn into more than just a bunch of friends drawing, and transitioned into something more professional?
KC: As we went through the convention circuit, we became more and more popular. More people began to commission our work on a freelance basis. At the start we were mostly still students and/or had day jobs as well. In 2013, we produced fanart of Internet Explorer in the form of a character known as Inori Aizawa.
KC: This rendition went viral and ultimately was picked up by Microsoft themselves: representatives from Microsoft in Singapore approached us and were interested in developing the character into something official that Microsoft could use. In order to pursue this opportunity we registered ourselves as a company and became a professional studio. Some of us decided to give it a shot, quit our day jobs and started doing more work with clients like Microsoft, Wacom, and many other influential clients.
You did some work for Anime Expo previously and also for Anime Fest this year…what were some of your inspirations for the characters you produced for those shows?
Tan Hui Tian: Usually we start our research by looking for motifs and elements that we can use in the design itself. Inspiration-wise, I do borrow from anime series and character designs that I like personally. In addition, part of the process is going to sites like Pinterest and looking at things that aren’t anime-focused and incorporating those elements into the design as well.
For fans who aren’t familiar with these characters, what’s their name & story? Is there one?
KC: I don’t think she has a name yet… *laughs* Usually the organizers themselves will give the character a name if they have one in mind. It’s up to them.
So we can ask Anime Fest what her name is… *laughs*
KC: Right! *laughs* Sometimes we give suggestions, but in this case it’s really up to them. It’s the same thing if they decide to use the character again or not. For Anime Expo, the characters already had names, so we just lent our style to the characters that were already made.
Any major projects that you’re working on currently that you’re really excited about? Or maybe a project that you hope to get?
KC: There are a lot of big projects that I hope to get in the future! Where do I start? I’d love to work with Marvel or DC one day. Of course, adding our work to Japanese card games. Anyone with new IP in general, we’d love to work with them.
We’re currently working on some concept art for a French video game, we’re just waiting on some things to get finalized before we can talk about it more openly and really dig into the work.
After Anime Fest, do you have any other shows planned for the convention circuit?
KC: Well, we definitely want to see more of New York. This is the first time we’re in New York so, we’re planning on using our extra days to do some traveling around. We plan to go Anime Festival Asia (AFA) in Singapore, and I personally am planning on going to Comiket 95. Our artists should be present at the show, we’re just waiting on confirmation from Comiket.
Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us about your work!
KC: Our pleasure!