Kim Forman is an American writer, artist, and avid video gamer from California who is currently working on her upcoming project, Anamnesis. The inspiration of this series came from Plato’s philosophy of anamnesis, an idea of recollection of knowledge from the past life. When I asked her to give the audience a glimpse of what this series is about, Forman responded:
The Anamnesis Project is the first in an ambitious series of character driven, high fantasy/sci-fi novels. The official synopsis is set on the compelling fictional world of Ista’Ruh. Assembled in a colorful mosaic of intersecting and diverse narratives, the story takes place some years after a world war that sparked a revolution. Dwindling flames of rebellion have yet to be fully extinguished however; Unlikely allegiances are forged when the discovery of a primordial relic ignites conflict unlike anything the world of Ista’Ruh has ever seen. A kaleidoscope of characters brutally collides in this exhilarating, provocative, and enigmatic drama.
The short preview of Anamnesis had made me craved for more information, I wanted to know more about her, her techniques, and how Kim will promote the series.
Michelle Nguyen (MN): I’ve seen some of your works, self-portraits, and characters, such as Sahyrn and Distar, from the Facebook page, familiar names. As an aspiring digital artist myself, what would you say are some of your techniques or methods to creating your pieces?
Kim Forman (KF): Everything I do is drawn out on pencil and sketched, then shaded with Photoshop, or it is digitally drawn by hand using a Wacom Cintiq tablet and minimal resources. For me, my style, I used to be very focused on semi-realism, but now I think the direction that I am leaning is heavily influenced by both Japanese manga and Western comics.
MN: Hey! Me too! How long does it usually take to finish a work?
KF: You have to start by learning to draw the basics, I started with faces. I studied faces and used Poser [Poser is a 3-D Animation software] and a lot of references for lighting and shade to really get an eye for what I could and couldn’t do. Shading, shading, shading! That’s always the most important step. Take a look at light and shadows, and make sure you always have a light source in your head.
It is important also to keep in mind the materials of the object you are drawing, cloth, wood, leather, etc, so it looks like it reflects how it’s supposed to, and has the right textures.
Faces, I think less is more—paint just enough of a person’s face to reflect their personality and emotions; no more, no less.
As for the art work, it depends. When I started, it could take me a few days. I broke my arm when I was young, a spiral fracture in both wrists, and it was always hard for me to push past the pain to work, but I’d always force it. Now, I have learned to adapt and grow with it, so the pieces I am doing currently are maybe thirty hours on average to finish a singular piece. That includes everything from concept to implementation, shading, coloring, texturing, and the cleanup at the end.
MN: Did you teach yourself how to draw? And did you take any art classes during your academic years?
KF: Yes, I have never taken any classes for artwork, but have watched tutorials on Youtube and read a few how-to books.
MN: So what were some challenges of being a self-taught artist?
KF: There are tons of trials of being self-taught. You have to find the right people to give you the right critical feedback, to help you know what your strengths and weaknesses are, and what areas to improve. For example, I used to not be so good at perspectives, struggled a lot to make an object look three-dimensional, but I trained myself through lots of trial and error. You have to learn to distinguish the criticism that is useful and constructive, from that which is not. It is beneficial to have another artist to give you feedback, because you can trust their opinions, as they know the struggle you face every day when you work.
MN: You mentioned before that you majored in Abnormal Psychology with a minor in Administration of Justice. How does that correlate with art?
KF: For me, in a literary sense. I was encouraged to go down that path due to someone very dear to me at the time who struggled to make the world a more colorful place, so to speak. I wanted to inspire people and help them in a way that person helped me. In a way which I felt at the time, I might never be able to do with my artwork. Mainly after having severe arthritis set in from my horseback-riding accident in which I obtained the injury to my wrists. To me, I use that material currently for writing. It’s helped me to build on some of the personal attributes of society and characters in my book and what “makes them tick,” so to speak.
MN: That’s deep. Were there other sources of inspirations to creating the series and the characters in it? Your driving force that finally made you to decide it was time to bring Anamnesis to life?
KF: Oh, definitely yes. I have been bounded by a lot of darkness in my life. A lot of dysfunction, death, loneliness and sorrow. The inspiration to understand it and move past it really inspired me. I found a lot of my inspiration in people who altered my life for the better, and those people are being channeled in the characters that exist in Anamnesis today. There is a lot of that darkness, there nevertheless. It’s so easy to get caught up in one’s own thoughts and feelings, which we, as people, often neglect to understand how difficult things are for other people. Essentially that is one of the driving forces behind the series; it understands who you are and why you are.
One of the people who helped me more than anyone was my co-writer, Nicholas Welch. He brought so much to the story and helped flesh out the characters; together we clicked and were able to breathe life into this world that we have created, together.
In addition to that of course, I think it is important to mention that some of my biggest inspirations have been manga, anime, and games. Story driven ones, of course. I realized it was time to push forward and make this book a reality, and when I realized the mainstream market has slowly been changing. Science fiction and fantasy are becoming one of the leading genres today of entertainment, and I thought I had something unique and original which in my opinion is hard to do in this day and age. Everyone says that about their own work, of course, but I don’t want to bring just one thing to the table with this story. I want to channel a multitude of thing, to have a multi-faceted original approach, hence why all the artwork and music therein is so important.
MN: What about characters? What were some influences that you used to create them?
KF: Characters were highly influenced by personal experience. I spent a lot of time gathering my own individual proficiencies and that of individuals who have left marks on my soul. There’s a lot of people whom I revered and, of course those whom I have loathed; I’ve tried to draw out and channel their essences. I want all of it to translate it into a palatable persona. I want to invoke emotion through the project, its characters- even in people who may otherwise not be interested in the genre, or in books. Maybe they’ll see something they like, or hear a sound that resonates inside of them. Read some words that click. That’s the most important thing. I want to reach and appeal to as many as possible, no matter how small. But I dream big. I promised myself that no matter how much time or energy it takes to keep pushing forward with this, no matter how tired I get or how drained I get, to just pour every ounce of my being into this book, it’s pages, the art and everything associated with it.
MN: When is the due date?
KF: Winter for the book release, summer 2015 for the site. I will say the site is a massive project all in itself. The content is huge. It’s going to have a ton of artwork, personal biographies, historical timelines, and lots of lore. Character biographies, and all of this, anything you can imagine from technology to religion, all of it world-building. No spoilers of course, everything leading up to the opening pages of the book. Of course, it is not required to read or even see, but if you want the information, it is there.
The website and Kickstarter are really there to just build up interest and promote. Rather the book sells five copies or 500,000; it’s all a success to me. My goal is just to get out this story, to touch as many souls as I can. Sounds cliché, I know! My characters would be livid if I didn’t get their story out there. They’re very much flesh and blood in my mind now, as crazy as it sounds.
MN: Any videos to accommodate with the series? Attempts to animate?
KF: I am working on a basic rudimentary intro video at the moment, right now there is very little animation as it is very rough and being story-boarded. However, once the site launches in the summer, there will be a video either at launch or within a few months down the line. I am looking at a Kickstarter project, so I will likely have a video to go with that when it lands. The Kickstarter will include stretch goals for a graphic novel, however, and possibly an audio book.
MN: Haha, I’ll definitely buy a book.
KF: One soul! Hurrah!
MN: The problem is that I don’t really read. People find it odd that I’m an artist, but I rather do calculus. English wasn’t my first language either. Actually, English is a hard language in general.
KF: See! And there are so many people that feel that way. So I think the audio book is going to be amazing. Or perhaps the graphic novel, if I am able to go that far. Yes, that is going to be a pain. Oh, the audio book, I want to do it in a PLAY style, an audio play, rather than just someone reading. The fun thing about the story is it is told from three point of views, at least the first book. So you get three completely different people to read from. It is an adult novel; there are a lot of adult topics such as sex, violence, war, language, lots of that.
MN: It becomes so successful that a massive multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) will happen.
KF: Oh, believe me I have thought about a massively multiplayer online game (MMO), mainly because the world is so interesting, I would like to think anyway, that it could survive and thrive without the focal characters. Not to say that I don’t have a pile of papers with all of this information about an MMO version because I do. MMOs are a passion of mine.
MN: What would you say is the overall theme of the series or rather your work/style?
KF: I’d say…The theme is truth. It’s the inevitability that we will all die. It’s about the fragility and pain involved with being a sentient being. It’s about love, fear and death, and the passion that drives us as people, despite, or in spite of all of these things. That applies to both me as an artist and a person, and the series, really.
MN: That’s really personal and deep. So onto a personal question, what do you do during your free time?
KF: Oh wow. Free time… what is that?!
MN: Play video games?
KF: It mostly goes into the book, all free time. And if there ís any extra, extra free time… I beat up hookers on GTA V and eat at crappy restaurants. [Grand Theft Auto 5, a 2015 game that allows the player to be a criminal mastermind]
MN: I don’t know if I could put that part in my interview for my class blog.
KF: It’s okay, just say plays PC (personal computer) games I guess.
MN: Last questions, and most important, I heard there was an incredibly attractive character, he’s pale skin and platinum blonde, He’s a lot different from your characters or something you have every drawn. Can you tell me more about that?
KF: Oh yeah his name is Athins and he’s a multidimensional being so blindingly beautiful that he steals the breath from your lungs just by gazing upon his form. He’s got this look in his eyes that can make you explode like a fire hydrant after being hit by an SUV. If it’s good or bad I’m unaware, perhaps both.
MN: That smile… Well thank you for your time, I shall write an interesting article about you.
KF: And thank you as well!
Kim Forman’s new website was recently launched, but you can gradually catch up with more updates at www.anamnesis-project.com