We had the good fortune of connecting with Koy Suntichotinun and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Koy, what do you want your legacy to be?
The question of, “What I want my legacy to be” haunts me all the time. I came from a family that was really intense about success and with that, I hold a lot of my self worth on notoriety. This toxic mentality of “clout” is something I fight with everyday. Living in the age of information, I have so many resources at hand and I see so many ways to be successful, that sometimes I lose touch of why I love making art in the first place because I’m clouded by following the latest trends. I’m constantly fighting against my own toxicity of being trendy because I want to be remembered for being a person that stuck to what he loved to do regardless of popularity, and made timeless works from just being himself. One of my mentors who taught me everything I know about typography doesn’t have the biggest social media following but has worked for clients such as David Bowie and Facebook. In contrast to that, one of my favorite artists, “Little Thunder,” has a huge social media following but their work is so distinct and personal to who they are, I can’t imagine anyone trying to replicate them. What’s similar between Little Thunder and my mentor is that they both found solace in their identity. I want to find peace within myself and accept what my distinct creative hands can do. Whenever I pass away, I hope to leave behind a legacy where people can find inspiration in being themselves. I want creatives to be proud of what they are capable of doing and not feel burdened by looking like everyone else.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
As a child I grew up, as many have, drawing Anime. It wasn’t until around the age of 18 did I start taking my art seriously through lettering. I have a lot of anxiety so when I think of illustrating something, I get easily overwhelmed. I felt like lettering had more defined steps, I was calm drawing letters and so that’s what I stuck to. I also like the subtleties of typography and how the minor details can effect the entirety of the piece. Ironically, as I improved in lettering, I became more confident as an artist and began illustrating later in my career. I pride myself as a person who works from scratch. For example, I had a client who wanted me to illustrate their father as a “Big League Chew” character. I spent weeks illustrating and practicing to draw like the original artist and I think I got pretty close. I feel designers today take a lot of shortcuts when it comes to aesthetics and don’t take enough time learning the basic foundations of illustrating and lettering, thus they rely too much of their work using pre–made assets and usually at times stealing artwork. Clients hire me because they are guaranteed to always receive original assets. I began freelancing as a graphic designer because I saw how much impact design can be for small businesses. My first client was my parents. When we opened up a restaurant in La Jolla, my parents could barely afford chairs but my brother and I helped out with the design of the logo, sign, and menu. I saw how proud my parents were of their restaurant because of how my brother and I enveloped their personality through design. I wanted to help other businesses like my parents do the same thing. I became a graphic designer because I wanted to specifically help businesses in impoverished communities by providing high quality designs at an affordable price. Some of my most favorite clients come from people in the culinary/service industry because it hits so close to home.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’m a bit of an introvert but if my best friend came to visit me in San Diego, I’d first take them to Kobey’s Swap Meet in the morning to see some old trinkets. Later in the day I’d take them to my parent’s restaurant in La Jolla called “Aroi Cafe.” After that we’d go see the the seals at La Jolla Cove while eating Gelato from “Bobboi.” One of my favorite donut places in San Diego is called “Golden Donut” in University City. I’d also probably take them to a Hip Hop dance cypher that happens every other Thursday at the “Tea N’ More” parking lot. There are also four food pop ups that I’d want them to try. One being “Tito Boy Project’s” famous hamburgers that occasionally happens on weekends. The chef bakes his own buns and they are the best burgers in San Diego. I’d also have them try the vegan breakfast sandwiches from “Spoiled Vegans” that pops up every weekend in downtown. “Mariscos Tone Camaron” is a special delivery service that specializes in ceviches. Then there’s “Rice Bowls For All” which for every meal purchased, another meal is given to an essential worker. My favorite Mexican restaurant is “Los Tito’s Mexican Food” and my favorite café is “Public Square,” both are in La Mesa. Last of all I’d take them to my two favorite Japanese restaurants, “Izakaya Masa” on Clairemont and and Yakitori Taisho on near Hillcrest. I was raised in South Carolina so whenever I feel homesick for southern food, I would go to “Coop’s West Texas BBQ” or “Bankhead Mississippi” Style Cooking.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Special love to my partner Wednesday Tran for always supporting me and encouraging me to stick to what I believe in. There were many times where I felt like giving up but she always pushed me to believe in myself. Also shoutout to my brother Camp Suntichotinun for always giving me advice, I appreciate our long phone calls. Last of all, thank you to my parents for always telling me to dream big.
Tito Boy Project Mariscos Tone Camaron