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Interview with Mike 'Daarken' Lim

By Emma Handley

Web: http://daarken.com (will open in new window)
Email: moc.nekraad@tranekraad

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Date Added: 3rd July 2013

Many artists have a particular routine or process that gets them 'into the zone'. How do you approach your work and avoid the dreaded 'creative block'?

This always seems like such a lame answer, but as a professional artist you don't have time to deal with artist's block. You can't sit around and wait for inspiration to strike. You have a deadline that you are being paid to hit, so you have to do it. It doesn't matter if you are in the mood to paint or not, you have to get your work done. Period.

It is a little easier as a freelance artist. Staff artists are required to be creative and on the top of their game every single day from 9 to 5. As a freelancer, if I really don't feel like painting one day, I might be able to take the day off or wait until later on in the day to start. Although that typically means I have to cram in more hours somewhere down the road.

I guess if I'm really not feeling in the zone, I'll work outside of the house. Sometimes changing your surroundings can help you focus, especially since you won't have the typical household distractions, like video games.

You have worked on a whole host of amazing projects throughout your career, including Guardians of Middle-earth and The Hobbit games with Kabam and Warner Brothers, just to name a few! Can you tell us what you're working on at the moment and what you have planned for the future?

Well, unfortunately I can't talk about some of the projects I'm working on. Besides those, I'm still consistently working on Magic: The Gathering. I have also been working on several Japanese mobile games, like Reign of Dragons and Legend of the Cryptids.

Earlier this year I spent three weeks in Renton, WA working at WotC to help conceptualize one of the Magic: The Gathering sets that will come out next year. I was there along with Wayne Reynolds, Chase Stone, Sam Burley, and Tyler Jacobson.

Next weekend I'll be in Temecula, CA for the Dragon's Maze pre-release and I'll also be at the Portland Grand Prix in May and at the Las Vegas Grand Prix in June. I'm still hoping to go to a Grand Prix in the UK!

Other than that, I don't think I have any special plans for the future.

Finally, if you go back to when you first began your career and give yourself three pieces of advice, what would they be?

Hire an accountant, take more breaks, and have more patience.

Not only will an accountant save you a lot of time and stress, but they will also save you money.

I hardly ever took breaks earlier in my career, and working 80-120 hours/week didn't help either. I ended up developing carpal tunnel syndrome in both wrists and cubital tunnel syndrome in my left arm by my mid-twenties. It is a real problem with digital artists these days, so be sure to take care of yourself.

I wish I had more patience back when I was in school and during the first several years of my career. I didn't spend as much time on my paintings as I should have. I tended to spend a few hours on a painting and then say "I'm done!" Cue video game playing.

When art directors would ask me to spend more time on a painting, I always thought "but I'm done, I don't know what else to do with it." Which is actually funny because looking back at my old art, it was so loose and sloppy. I was lazy.

You can keep up to date with Daarken and his work by visiting the following link:





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