Founded by a pair of young illustrators and designers, Kwok Jin Xin (Jin) and Ong Lyn-Hui (Lyn), ForReal is more than just a small indie illustration and graphic design studio.

Situated on Penang Island, they see design as not just their jobs but rather the ideal lifestyle where they can do what they love, how they want to, and still forward to Mondays as eagerly as they do their weekends.


Q: What was the inspiration behind the formation of ForReal Studio?
A: Both of us love to draw. However, when we were working in the industry, we felt that we weren’t given many opportunities to apply illustration into our works. Our jobs were getting mundane and we needed a way out. We craved for a platform to experiment on crossing over different media in design and illustration, and anything in between. ForReal Studio is the result of that.


Q: How did the name ‘ForReal’ come about?
A: We finally had a golden opportunity, when we were granted a job to work together with a US architect firm for a Vietnamese client. They flew us in and the client urged us to form a company of our own so that they could pay us officially. So we were in the hotel, cracking our heads, thinking and brainstorming names for our design studio. We started throwing out dozens of ideas for names; some were silly, some pretentious, and some just down-right…embarrassing. In the end, realising we are about to start a company, Jin Xin said to Lyn-Hui: “This time is for real.” Then Lyn, after a moment, breaking her silence said: “Why not ForReal?”


Q: What do you think is the importance of a good brand identity?
A: We think a good brand identity has to be, ultimately, memorable. Most but not all of the time, simple logos are usually more effective. Simple logos are also more difficult to craft, as most often as not, someone somewhere has already done something similar to yours. While doing a lot of homework, we would find something similar to ours. We would have to trash it and start over even though that logo option was a favourite of ours. The logo is just one part of the brand identity. When paired with an effective colour palette that sets the right mood and typography that sets the right tone, that’s how strong brand identity is formed. Elements or graphics such as illustration also help set the brand apart. At least, that’s what we’re trying to achieve for our clients.


Q: You’ve had your fair share in creating some exceptional logos for a number of businesses such as ‘Black Kettle’ and ‘Design Tomorrow’. Have there been any instances where you had a tough time coming up with a logo design? If so, how do you overcome that creative block?
A: We usually have to juggle several jobs at any given time. When we have a creative block for one job, we shift to other jobs and come back to it sometime later. And if that doesn’t work, we spend time with our office cats: Oreo and Cookie. We take a nap or reply to emails. Just do everything else and come back to it with a pair of fresh eyes. That usually does the trick.


Q: Among all the projects you’ve handled, which was the most interesting to work on?
A: The first job that got us to start our company is still the most interesting and refreshing experience for us. It was a life-changer. It was a town planning project in Vietnam by a US architect firm, asking us to help deliver their concept into a hardcover A3 book format where we have these black and white AutoCAD drawings that we beautify by adding colours and textures. And because it was still in the preliminary design stage, all they had were white blocks for different buildings, so, instead of realistic 3D renderings, we did dozens of illustrations for the book. To start the project, for almost one week, our client flew us out to Vietnam. On top of meeting new people, we had to do it in an entirely unfamiliar environment, which was both scary and fun.


Q: If you could travel back to any time of your choosing, which artists would you like to meet and why?
A: There are a number of great artists currently living in our era that are still creating incredible works. Great artists like Aryz, who started doing street art and now works across big and small canvases. Children’s book illustrators like Joey Chou is our inspiration, too.

But, if we are able to travel back in time, Lyn-Hui is really curious about meeting Frida Kahlo. And Jin Xin, being a total geek, would love to meet Saul Bass. Frida is an interesting person, with an even more interesting backstory. She is a fearless feminist, who isn’t afraid to express herself through art. Saul Bass is a game-changer in the graphic design world. His logo creations are mostly simple but definitely impactful. He has also done a lot of significant movie posters that are still iconic to this day. We bet we could learn a lot from these creative giants.


Good things are meant to be shared. 😉 To see more of Forreal Studio’s work, check out the links below!
Website: Forreal Studio
Behance: ForReal