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Digital Life

What's In... Stanley Lau's Apple iMac

Published on Jun 13, 2014 5:00 AM

You have probably seen Mr Stanley Lau's work while playing popular video games such as Street Fighter, World Of Warcraft or Defense Of The Ancients, or reading comics featuring Catwoman, Poison Ivy, Power Girl and other DC Comics characters.

Mr Lau, 40, is co-founder and creative director of Imaginary Friends Studio (IFS), which specialises in illustrations, comics art and concept art. His studio works with major players in the video game and entertainment industry, including DC Comics, Square Enix, Capcom and Valve.

Better known by his online handle Artgerm, Mr Lau is well known in the international art community. His gallery on deviantArt, an online community for artists, has attracted more than 50 million views

As a child, he loved drawing. He recalled filling his primary school books with doodles and had even made a flipbook with simple animations.

Born in Hong Kong, he was 17 when he moved to Singapore with his parents and settled here. After earning a diploma in visual communications at Temasek Polytechnic, he worked at Ogilvy & Mather as a senior designer.

But working in an office did not suit him. He said: "I got freaked out because of the office culture and politics in advertising, so I created my own advertising and design agency called Paprika."

That did not work out either. "I ran Paprika for about five years, but I eventually found it boring - I was creating logos, advertising campaigns and branding, but I wanted to draw. Drawing has always been my passion, so I told myself that it was time to move on."

After Paprika, he started IFS in 2005 with two friends, Mr Kendrick Lim and Mr Kai Lim, to channel their passion for art. "We opened this studio so that we could work on the things we've loved since we were young."

It was not easy. "We rented a place, furnished it nicely and brought all our toys in. We had everything, except projects. We burned through our savings and almost closed down before we even got started."

Realising that they had to work quickly, they compiled their work into an artbook and took it to the San Diego Comic-Con, the world's largest comics convention.

There, they handed out flyers, hoping to attract people to look at their artbook to view their work. "We must have impressed some people, because two weeks after we returned from Comic-Con, we got our first contract, colouring for a G.I. Joe comic." That proved to be their big break.

The client introduced them to more clients and they moved from colouring comics to illustrations and concept art for games, animation and movies. The studio now employs four full-time staff and about 15 freelance artists.

Even when he is not working, Mr Lau's passion for drawing bleeds into his personal life. He continues to draw in his free time and hosts a weekly live stream where people can watch him draw. He explained his obsession: "I get sick when I'm not drawing. For me, art is a lifestyle."

Mr Lau also teaches aspiring artists. IFS partners with 3dsense media school in a diploma in digital design course.

He will speak and teach at Start 2014, an international digital design festival here, which will feature speakers from Lucasfilm's Industrial Light & Magic and Pixar Animation Studios. More details are available at

To see more of Mr Lau's work, visit his online gallery at

By Colin Tan

This article was first published in The Straits Times Digital Life on June 11, 2014.


Mr Stanley Lau, 40, is the co-founder and creative director of Imaginary Friends Studios, a digital art studio based in Singapore. Its clients include DC Comics, Marvel Comics, Square Enix and other major companies in the entertainment and gaming industry. He will be a speaker at Start 2014, a digital design festival here that runs from June 26 to 28.

His Apple iMac

At our studio, we all use iMacs for easier networking and consistency of colour reproduction. I use Photoshop for all my work and I've grown familiar with it after using it for many years.

Street Fighter 3 Online

This was one of my favourite projects. I love playing games made by Capcom and spent a lot of my childhood skipping classes to play Street Fighter at the local arcades.


I do some work for DC Comics. I also have a line of statues based on some of my character concept art for female superheroes and villains.

Dota 2 Heroes

I love Dota 2 and play it a lot with my friends. I've worked with Riot Games on a similar game, League Of Legends.

Background story

I get sick when I'm not drawing. For me, art is a lifestyle.

Mr Lau on his obsession with drawing