derek kim (network osaka) interview
original content
aug 20, 2012
derek kim (network osaka) interview


nike sockliner

designboom recently spoke to derek kim – AKA network osaka and (untitled-1) 
about his penchant for poster design and nature documentaries.

could you tell us briefly about the evolution of network osaka?
network osaka has been my own personal freelance practice for about 4 years now.
the beginnings were rough and improvised. one would figure that as you acquire more
work experience as a designer, your design process would become a bit more systematic
and methodical. on the contrary, I’ve become a bit more loose with what I create
for my clients. it’s pretty much like being a commissioned artist; there’s an element
of trust clients start putting into your work once they see what’s possible if they
give you the freedom to create anything and that’s when my strongest work comes to life.
I’ve tried to become more of a fine artist than a designer. I no longer use network osaka
as my main monicker since the name itself didn’t have any particular significance I chose
it at random. for now I’m using a placeholder name (untitled-1) until I can find another
suitable alias that has a bit more substance.


derek kim

what’s a typical day at your studio?
I’ve temporarily moved away from freelancing since it took up too much of my own time.
but I can definitely reminisce of the time I used to freelance, back when I was a bit fresher,
I was addicted to work, addicted to being productive and to making things happen.
this addiction began while I was still in college, a lot of the time I was busy doing
absolutely nothing, which leads to boredom and boredom leads to making things,
some for real purposes and others not so much, that’s how it all began.
that’s how I also became a night owl; my brain works best at around 11:00pm – 3:00am.

could you tell us a bit about your design process?
my design process isn’t really a process. I do start out by sketching out ideas and whatnot,
but my creativity is always improvised and always has an element of luck to it. sometimes it’s
just being at the right place and at the right time. however, some of the ways I get ideas can
be mind-boggling to some people but I’ve got some pretty unorthodox methods that seem to work for me.
here’s a good example… what I used to do most mornings before going to work was to take a shower
and keep my eyes closed for about 10-15 minutes, during this time, I would see vivid images
of random ideas coming from a transcendental creative ether. whenever I’ve told this to someone,
they laugh, but it works for me! in any case, I’ll admit that I’m not a good designer.
good designers solve problems, whereas I make my own problems and solve them how I find fitting.


TEDxPortland identity


cover for grafik magazine



basics posters


extinct card / book series – more info


extinct cards

papillon t-shirt

departamento bag

having designed many posters, how do you see the future of this medium
in a time where people increasingly get their news and information from the screen?

good poster design will not depend on the medium but on what it actually conveys.
whether it lives on a 40-foot LCD screen or a sheet of A4-paper it will still grab people’s attention
if it communicates whatever it’s trying to say in a beautiful manner,

however, there are things that a screen cannot do that print can. first of all, the variety of mediums
you can print your poster on are endless: newsprint, vellum, acetate, bristol, cardboard, recycled scraps,
plastic, wood, glass, acrylic, a block of cheese, etc…

second of all, you can also add tactical textures, use metallic colors and even smell.
as an added bonus, print is also immune to electromagnetic pulses.

one thing I’ll say is: I just hope all commercial out-of-home advertisements become illegal,
they are like herpes to the eyes.

what is the most important aspect of poster design for you and how do you try to achieve it?
for me is that it’s not design but art. posters are one of the few mediums of which I have
carte blanche to do whatever the hell I want. it’s the perfect way to express my thoughts
and views of a certain subject matter and have a personal moment with my audience.
I try to connect with them by having a silent conversation.

I like having different interpretations of what my artwork represents.
while I have my own views of how I view the subject matter, I am more interested in what the audience
has to say about it. this, of course, is my own take on poster design. I’m not advocating that
people treat every poster design as if it were a painting… it’s your own personal choice.

who or what would you say is the biggest influence on your style?
that’s a hard one, there’s tons!
the obvious one would be the entire swiss movement. I remember seeing josef mueller-brockmann’s work
for the first time while I was a junior in college and instantly fell in love with it.
before that, I was obsessed with the designers repubic (especially with michael c. place)‚
remember how they used to juxtapose big bold type with super tiny type? that would get my nipples hard.

recently I’ve started to stray away from the swiss style. not because I stopped liking it,
but because I’ve become a bit exhausted of making things that look like they were done
by a machine. which leads me to my other source of inspiration: the DIY movement.

having lived in the pacific northwest for a while opened my eyes to the fact that we have hands.
and with these hands, we make things and these things aren’t always done by clicking a dead rodent.
and these things start to look a bit more human, which makes me a bit happier because your projects
have a bit of a soul in them.

which has been your defining project to date?
the best project I’ve ever worked on was for TEDxPortland while I was at wieden+kennedy.
the team I was a part of was, in my opinion, the dream team of art directors/designers:
ken berg, steve denekas, sarah hollowood and dom murphy are some of the most amazing creatives I’ve met
in my entire life. these guys are fucking awesome. they made me think for the first time in a long time.
this wasn’t an art project. this was real problem solving. that made me nervous, but having them on my
team alleviated my tensions. as soon as I started working with them, I began to see the beauty of
collaborative design and how an identity could come to life.


stanford university poster


weapon of mass destruction poster


times square poster


city atlas poster


modern atlas poster


gracias poster

besides design what do you have a passion for?
I love watching nature documentaries. it reminds me of spending saturday mornings with my dad
when I was a kid. we didn’t play catch, we didn’t go fishing nor we would go to the movies.
but every saturday, we’d watch nature documentaries. I found it to be somewhat of a special moment
that both of us enjoyed. one of my many dreams is to be a part of a nature documentary crew…
maybe be the guy who holds the boom mic.

what piece of advice should every designer remember?
be humble and don’t preoccupy yourself with what others are doing. some of best designers I’ve met
aren’t those you see in magazines or read in books‚ they just don’t give a fuck what others think of them;
they don’t seek approval.

what piece of advice should every designer ignore?
ignore politics, ignore debbie downers and just make some dope ass work.
also, ignore everything I just said.

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