Mari Kim is inviting everyone to check out her new creation, an exciting mobile game from Cocone NY, Centennial. An artist and animator, Mari Kim works as a CEO at Cocone NY, a branch of the company that holds its headquarters in Japan. Mari Kim discusses what to expect from the new mobile game, what makes it unique to other mobile games, and what her role as a CEO encompasses.
Culturess: What was it like to work on Centennial?
Mari Kim: As an artist and a person who is interested genuinely in design and art, I was always interested in game and then playing myself. My major was in game and animation as well, so I think that was really good opportunity to express my interest in the game and producing with my art. That's kind of great experience. But, a lot of things that I am learning as an artist as well as I was kind of a minority how I studied because I didn't study art and then as an Asian artist to working in a global art market. There was kind of as a minority I studied there and then I'm entering into the men kind of dominated market like games, so, I think this is very interesting and then exciting also. I have a big challenge in myself to have a great success in the game. I really want to have this game successful and to show that artists can do that and a minority can do this too.
Culturess: What excites you the most about mobile games?
Mari Kim: Everything because I love games and since I was young I was a game player and I played a lot of games. I love playing games. Then, as I grow older, I have less chance playing Play Station and playing web games so I tend to have a lot of games in my phone and play because sometimes you're really heavy with your work and have a lot of things going on and you wanna lose all the thoughts and you wanna be in the world but even the screen is so small but that can be your world. So even small thing can be so big and then it can be your whole world, I think, that's the idea that I really like about mobile games.
Culturess: What makes Centennial unique to other games?
Mari Kim: I think the most distinctive point of Centennial is the creator that is me, who is an artist. Not a lot of games have an artist as the creator and designer. I think that is a leading point that Centennial stands out as a lot of games. And also Centennial, only not me, is cooperating with a lot of good designers from Japan and Korea. I think a lot of co-working with the designers are making this game very unique and kind of diverse.
Culturess: How did you get involved in being an artist?
Mari Kim: As I said, I didn't study art, so I never actually imagined myself being an artist. I didn't even know how to exhibit, anything like that. But, as you can imagine, people used more blogs, more Instagrams, more social media, and then I took advantage of those tools. So I used my art, I studied animations and games, so I already liked to draw these characters then I really didn't know what to do with this skill so I posted a lot of content to my blog and then later on Facebook and Instagram and I was really constantly doing that. I have posted 700 pieces of content in two years, like every day I posted one drawing or one painting and wrote kind of things. However, I was very diligent in doing that. That's why I grew with this social media platform. Later on, Instagram and also my blog, they featured me as an artist, but I wasn't an artist. I was just somebody who studied animation and posting my drawings and paintings. But they saw me as an artist. I became an artist because of this social media platform that promoted me. I promoted myself but I didn't even know I was doing that. But I wanted to show my kind of creative side to people and then communicate with people but by doing that literally I became an artist. And then after this success from the social media platforms and then a lot of galleries they kind of reached me out to have an exhibition. So at the first exhibition, I didn't even know how to frame my art because I kinda drew my things and painted in their digital form. So later on, I called a friend and found out how to frame them, I have to print them out and then I sent all my artwork to the gallery and they exhibited and somehow they sold them. So that was a very exciting moment when I became an artist. I think exhibiting your work, I don't think that makes an artist because you can call yourself an artist, whoever you are, but, you know, it can be, if you're called an artist and your title is an artist then that means your work has to speak with somebody else and somebody else has to find works of your art. So, somebody who bought my art, that moment is the moment I became an artist.
Culturess: How did you get your start with Cocone NY?
Mari Kim: I had a collaboration with Cocone. Cocone Headquarters is in Tokyo like this is one of the biggest Avatar gaming companies in Japan. They wanted to have this artist collaborations. I had this very successful collaboration with them. But, as you know, I have sold my NFTs in Korea and I became really famous in it. And then a lot of people thought that Meta-Verse and this digital world kind of speaks with this NFT world as well. That's why I and Cocone were speaking of having this Meta-Verse together and creating something new. But, however, the world crushed it somehow and we tried to make Webtoon, not Webstreet, so let's make a game then, not an NFT. That's why I made a kind of proposal to them. That's kind of Centennial that I am a team leader of and they really liked it and they tried to get this as a game and then they wanna launch in the global market. Somehow, they didn't really have their knowledge of how to launch in the global market because they would be in, it's not a local, they're a big company in Japan, but the project had success in the global markets. So, however, I was kind of a self-promoted artist so I had a sense of how to promote things and how to market things. For my project's success, I had to find a way to promote this project and I'll find a way to reach out to global markets so that's how I became a Cocone NY publishing CEO because I had to find a way to make these games populated in the global market and they thought that I'm their best person to do that because I know how to make games, that means I understand the game because Cocone is no other game company, they're the most advanced Avatar digital world creative game company. So I understand that because I make my game with Cocone and also I know how to promote things and how to market. So I became the CEO of a publishing company in New York.
Culturess: What do you do as the CEO?
Mari Kim: As I mentioned a few things. As a publishing company's CEO, my priority is to make games successful. So there is one game that I am the team leader of. So, the game I'm creating is the priority for me so I have to make the game successful. But for other games from Cocone, I have to publish them to the global market and then I have to find users to define what game we are. And then what kind of game they are, and then we have to find the right user in the market, and then we are also doing the public relations as well. And then also we are using a lot of social media marketing platforms to promote those games to young people as well. So, I think that's how I grew. I know how powerful this social media can be. So I'm using a lot of those as well. My goal is to make games successful in the global market. That is my role.
Culturess: What was it like to sell an NFT in South Korea?
Mari Kim: As an artist, I think the artist has to be very innovative and should have the courage to do new things. But the NFT work was really kind of new to me. But also it was really easy for me to understand because how I created work was in digital form so changing the art form to NFT was really easy and I really like to do new things all the time. I think that was a really easy transition to make to NFT. That was really a new thing in Korea back then so I originally like to do things first. As an artist, you want to do things first. If you are creating your own stuff and then you want to be the first, you know. I wanted to do that and that was very meaningful because first Korean to make an NFT and sold it to a Korean platform. That made a really good record. And sadly, the market isn't as good. Anyway, that was a milestone I made for my artist career.
Culturess: Were you always interested in art for games?
Mari Kim: I think the idea of having art in the game is kind of new because before having this clone NFT, there were like 20,000 of them. And then this art was in digital form and an NFT was kind of a new thing. But Nike brought this all together and they kind of made them into some kind of digital world and then they put Nike shoes, Nike outfits, it looks almost like a game. And then I looked at it and oh, art can be in the game world and that looks beautiful. But before I had this collaboration with Cocone so I knew that art can be in the game platform. However, there are many artists who can use their art in the game because not everyone is creating faces, right? But my art is kind of very optimized for the games. Already, people I actually phased in the figure, that's why I think it's already in very good form, and then I think I'm the best person who can work with this game as an artist.
Culturess: How did working on Centennial help grow your skills?
Mari Kim: As an artist, my art is kind of Barbie doll in art form. The face never changes but it changes the outfit. And Barbie is like that too. But in art is a big question of authenticity, this is unique. This is a really big question. Your art is unique. That's why you're paying a lot of money. Big money, right? You like it. You wanna have this unique piece that's why you are paying so much money. So my art was kind of, I think my art is, a lot of people think my art is contemporary art, whatever it is, but, I always think my art is conception art because it's asking a big question to the art market, asking what is unique? What is the authenticity? Because in my art, I call it an eye doll, the character doesn't change but changes the outfit. But it becomes a different art. So is this is unique, or is this not unique, it is kind of duplicated. I want to have this kinda big question in the art, but I am putting all of this idea into this game because I am creating an Avatar social game. In Avatar games, that you probably have experienced, they cover your Avatar with your art and then you change the outfit and it becomes you or it becomes someone else. It becomes my friend, it becomes a total stranger. So I think I'm trying the same concept in the game and then I think creating new things is an art as well. So, I think I'm a digital artist, you also call fine artist, whatever that is, but I think this is another art form I'm trying and then this is a challenge I'm doing right now as an artist.
Culturess: How would you describe your development as an artist?
Mari Kim: I'm still developing as an artist because now the world is changing so fast after the covid and a lot of things. The mobile game is growing bigger because of COVID-19, and a lot of people can use their digital products much more than before. And then as a contemporary artist, you have to show your art to a lot of people. Not just for their, you know, top .1 percent, who has the money. As a contemporary artist, I would want my art to be seen by a lot of people. And then there's NFT, now there's a game. There are a lot of different platforms, like VRs and then Oculus. You can see a lot of things. I think you are seeing beautiful things, not beautiful things. You have a lot of new experience to different interfaces and the hardware as well. So I am embracing all those techniques in the world to show the art. I'm trying to do that. Then this is my goal for the life. So I am a contemporary artist. I want to be with people always. My art, I want my art to be shown everywhere with a lot of interfaces.
Look out for the new mobile game Centennial in 2024.