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Fawn Fruits is a kawaii name… Fawn is
the calm and peaceful animal and
Fruits like the Japanese street fashion
His real name is Daniel Hyun Lim (1980
- South Korea / USA), an artist of South
Korean origin, but US to all intents and
purposes, with clear Japanese
Even his personality is kawaii: despite
the adversities in his life, he has
succeeded to turn sadness into hope,
creating colorful paintings, which give
a great sense of calm, and a happy
place full of peace, where there is no
sadness and grief.
During the academy of fine arts, he had some
excellent mentors like Alex Gross, Rob
Clayton, Aaron Smith, Richard Keyes and
And in turn he has become a teacher since
2008: Professor of Communication Arts /
Digital Media at Otis College of Art and Design
and Professor of Foundation Arts at Santa
Monica City College. For his job, he spends
most of his day teaching, but he does not stop
trying to realize his great “1000 Portraits”
plan: make 1000 pictures and sell them at
$100 each. Like a criticism against the
gallery system, where only certain styles and
works are exhibited, Daniel has turned his
MySpace and Facebook into art galleries
where he is the curator, selling his paintings
even to occasional collectors.
The Kawaii Team had the honor of knowing
this wonderful person.
1. The subjects of your paintings are
colorful girls with big expressive eyes
that remind a manga and fashion world, a
typical style of Shibuya area.
Are you fascinated by Japan? What does
attract you concerning oriental culture?
I grew up drawing vampires and
dinosaurs so I’m pretty sure that the
kawaii sensibilities weren’t inherited. I
remember being infatuated by celebrity
figures like Winona Ryder, Brigette Lin,
Roo Ra’s Chae Rina, Zooey Deschanel,
Zard’s Izumi Sakai, Miki Imai, Utada Hikaru
and Smashing Pumpkins Dacry just to
name a few. In Highschool, all I did was
copy from Haruhiko Mikimoto’s anime
portraits. It was there that I began to see
the possibilites of Anime as fine art.
My first interaction with the Japanese
culture happened when I found a stash of
Japanese fashion magazines under my
sisters bed. Oh the joy! NonNo, Seventeen,
Mina! I was in kawaii reference overload.
For some odd reason, I was attracted to
the culture, maybe its because I don’t
speak the language, and its something of
a mystery to me. Maybe it’s the fact that
they connected with my own dormant
sensibilities. I wish I had a solid answer
to give but that’s the honest truth.
Your paintings remind photographs: the half-length ones seem
like family portraits, the full length ones seem the photos which
cool hunters take in the streets to mark new trends.
This is the million dollar question.
I get asked that almost every time I introduce myself. To me,
even though I use photo references from photo books like
Fruits and fashion websites like Tokyo Fashion, these girls are
all personal to me. I try to think of a story of why this person is
wearing this particular outfit and so on. Because I am
restricted by the photography, that is the only connection I
have with photo referenced material. When the “cool hunters”
go out in the streets to snap a person, they are only interested
in the fashion. I am interested in the person they represent.
This is something I try to capture in all my portraits.
Usually, what attracts me to a particular photo are the eyes. I
spent a good amount of time developing a story from the eyes
and work my way down to the fashion. If you notice in my work, I
spend the most time focusing on the portrait and less on the
fashion. I’m working on expanding my market to the boys
community. I even bought the new issue of Tune street
magazine to expand my visual vocabulary.
3. You are a teacher of art at the Otis College of Art and Design and at the
Santa Monica City College. What would you like that your students learn
Have you still something to learn?
Do you have any anecdote to tell us about your life as a teacher?
Currently my focus is on internet branding. Creating a web presence for
yourself. I graduated from the years when mailers and art annuals were
the only way to make your art known. My students live in a generation
that has facebook and twitter to do their dirty work. I feel as its a
disservice to my students to not teach them about this subject. I’m
noticing companies, schools, musicians and artists all have a “find us on
facebook/twitter” icon on their websites. My goal is to educate my
students that, it’s not too early to start promoting their work. My big pick
for now is weebly for websites and society6 for products.
I’m no marketing genius as I’m still learning as I go. I keep an open mind
to everything. Just last month, my student corrected me about Search
Engine Optimization… in front of the whole class. I took it in and let him
correct me. I always teach with my pride in check.
4. You are a teacher and you have always young people around you,
who are the subjects of your paintings.
Are you also attracted by representing new fashion trends?
A lot of the subjects from my paintings come randomly to me.
Whether its an interesting photograph from a magazine ad or a
friend from facebook, I keep my eyes open to anything and
everything. For this question, I’d like to give credit to my mentor Alex
Gross. Ever since I met him, he has been painting things he loved,
japanese culture, strange monsters, butterflies, ice creams. I never
really questioned him why he painted them. I understood that it was
what drove him as an artist.
When I do my work, I want my passion to drive me. I don’t ever want to
work on something that I think will please another person. I decided
that I will not ask myself those questions and just do work that I
I’m not really interested in fashion trends, I don’t like the fact that it
changes every day. That’s just way too hard to keep track. I like
drawing things that are somewhat timeless. Maybe this works
better cause my drawings are, to me, nostalgic.