A Hobby Becoming a Job: Interview with Jung Bokyung, Cho Yein, Choi Daye of Art Character Cell
June 12th of 2009, what date is it? It's the birthday of GingerBrave, the dependable character of the CookieRun IP. It’s also the launch date of the original OvenBreak, the origin of the CookieRun series. Ever since then, CookieRun has been loved by so many fans across the world for the last 14 years.
Among them, we’ll get to meet some very special fans. These fans were so fond of CookieRun that they’ve become the Golden Hands of drawing Cookies!
Q. Hello! Introduce yourself, please.
Bokyung : Hello, I'm Character Art team’s Jung Bokyung. I design various art resources including the monster designs that appear in CookieRun: Kingdom.
Yein : Hello, I'm Cho Yein. I’ve been here for 8 months now as a concept artist on the Character Art team. I work mainly on character nits or emotions, etc.
Daye : Hello, I'm Choi Daye and I’m on the same team too. It’s been around a year and a half since I joined Studio Kingdom! I work on various things related to characters, such as character resources released every update and both NPC and Skin concept designs.
Childhood Memories: The Dream to Become Artists
Q. The three of you are know to be the most loyal fans of CookieRun. Do you have any memories to share?
Bokyung : I started with OvenBreak, the original work of CookieRun, in my elementary school years, CookieRun for Kakao in my middle school years, and CookieRun: OvenBreak after my high school years. Instead of aiming for high scores, I mostly remember having fun with leveling up my favorite Cookie to the highest level, or experimenting with running times or Magnetic Effect items. I had an affection for the CookieRun characters from early on and I guess that my interest in character design has been growing ever since.
Yein : When I was in middle school, a close friend of mine begged me to play with her just once, saying that playing the game together would give us a good character and some items. I had no choice but to start and it was so addictive that I played it secretly between classes. It became a big part of my memories in school, and after seeing how it was constantly loved by people, I thought Devsisters was my dream company.
Daye : The most memorable one I have is secretly playing the game while standing in line at the cafeteria in school. I remember playing OvenBreak and CookieRun for Kakao in my middle school years and playing CookieRun: OvenBreak really hard in my high school years. When I saw Sparkling Cookie in CookieRun: Kingdom, I was felt so excited. I’m not too much of a gamer, but I do geek out about games by drawing fan art and posting them on social media. I also designed my own Cookies back then and imagined myself as a game concept artist who would actually draw real Cookies for players.
Q. Are there any other reasons you joined Studio Kingdom?
Bokyung : I thought CookieRun's characters were especially more attractive and adorable in CookieRun: Kingdom. As I got more affectionate about the characters, I hoped to join Studio Kingdom and work together with those who designed these wonderful characters.
One day, I finally made up my mind and applied to join the CookieRun: Kingdom team.
Yein : A friend who took the college entrance exam with me played CookieRun all the time. After seeing my drawing style, my friend strongly recommended the Studio Kingdom to me. I looked this place up and became very, very interested. Everyone around me was so passionately rooting for me. Even before I joined the company, I already had an idea of what new characters I wanted to bring to life.
Daye : The re-designed Cream Puff Cookie was so cute at the launch of CookieRun: Kingdom. I was drawn to the character’s color and style so much that I made up my mind to join as an artist. I remember handing in the job application paperwork in my final semester at university. Once I did join, everyone was so encouraging and it helped me really learn smoothly.
Q. What did you do to become an artist of Studio Kingdom?
Bokyung : Collecting the character designs I have done so far, I went over the concepts and expressions of each design, such as the parts that were well-expressed and the parts that were disappointing. Thanks to this, I think I could easily express myself during my interview. Also when doing the assignment test, I studied the art style, character designs, and expressions of CookieRun: Kingdom a lot.
Yein : I played CookieRun: Kingdom very much. After an update, I made sure to head straight towards the Gacha. While enjoying the game, I sketched out concepts of Cookies that might be related to the featured Cookie or their friends, referring to the art style as much as possible.
Daye : I explored shops that sold various desserts and food. I built some knowledge about pastries and desserts, but I still I feel like there's a lot more food to learn about. I’m still studying and researching on how I can create drawings of ingredients and materials more attractive and delicious looking.
Q. That’s a lot of effort. When you joined the company, was there any difference between the company you expected and the actual company itself?
Bokyung : As a newcomer to society, I expected that all companies would have a stiff atmosphere with no interaction at all, other than work and feedback flowing in a straight vertical line. The thought weighed heavily on my mind and I become quite worried that I wouldn’t be able to adapt to such an office environment. I was actually surprised to find that the atmosphere and culture here was very different from what I expected, even during the interviews and after joining the company. First and foremost, it was a team full of laughter and happiness, with all my team colleagues being so kind and encouraging. I could feel that they really cared for me and respected me whenever they would communicate. They were even very considerate as I was still rather clumsy in the beginning.
Yein : I had high expectations because I was interested in rumors about the so-called "Cookiethon," where artists freely came up with Cookie ideas and designs. I heard that some of those designs were actually brought to life in the games. I was so excited to learn that it was true and joined CookieRun: Kingdom’s beta Cookiethon. As expected, there were so many unique designs and I definitely knew that I had joined the perfect company for me.
Daye : Since Studio Kingdom was developing a game, I was most excited about being able to ask about foreshadowing and stories that have not yet been unveiled to the general public! When I actually joined the company, it was fun to learn about the secrets and all the behind-the-scenes aspects of the development of upcoming Cookies. These stories are so charming and grand, and I can’t wait for the world to experience them.
Cookies Made with Love Don’t Have an Expiration Date
Q. What is the most memorable thing you worked on so far?
Bokyung : The most memorable update I’m most attached to are the background portrait added to Milk Cookie’s Magic Candy update and the portrait of Space Doughnut. I really wanted to try drawing the background art for a Cookie, but once I did get assigned with the task, it felt very difficult to get just right. I tried very hard, very diligently and got a lot of help from my teammates. In the end, it felt great to see the results of my efforts.
Yein : I remember the first time I designed a few NPC Cookies. I worked on the child version of Oyster Cookie and her nanny. While drawing these NPCs, I was a bit worried. Was it really okay to add my own personal touches to these characters? Was I adding a bit too much of my personality into their designs? But everyone was super on-board. Drawing these characters was so much fun and it felt great to see positive player feedback and fan art from both Korea and worldwide.
Daye : Milky Way Cookie! I designed this character myself and the Cookie still holds a place in my heart. At first, the Cookie was only supposed to be an NPC, but then the decision was made to make Milky Way Cookie a playable character! I was happy on one end, worried on the other. Was I ready for this? Would players like the character’s design? My favorite Cookie, in general, is Cream Puff Cookie, but I kind of like to think of Milky Way Cookie as my child. If we ever get merchandise of Milky Way Cookie, I’m buying everything in stock.
In addition, Pure Vanilla Cookie's Pastel Blue Costume and Parfait Cookie’s Feelin’ Blue & Pink are also very memorable. It was the first time I designed costumes, and it was also the first time I saw fan art of my designs after joining the company! I bookmarked every single piece of fan art I could find.
Q. When was the happiest moment while working at the company?
Bokyung : With every update, we gather as a team and stare at our phones, our eyes glued to the game. I always feel a rush of happiness when I get to finally see the art I worked on, the Cookies I’ve designed come to life.
Yein : It’s been slightly over half a year since I joined the company, and the proudest moment was when the art resources I made were used for an update. Emotions and facial expressions I designed were used for the cutscenes. I rushed through unplayed content to unlock those scenes just so I could see my work in the game.
Daye : I’m always proud and happy after a successful update, just like the players. Though I primarily focus on the artwork, I’m always thinking of ways to make the game more enjoyable, just like everyone else on the team. Positive player feedback is a great motivator for creating more lovable and adorable Cookies!
Q. It's probably very nerve-racking to see the designs you were fond of finally coming out the world. Are there any memorable moments?
Bokyung : When I did the background illustration for Milk Cookie. "We finally have a cool background!" "Magnificent!" were the fan reactions I still remember the most.
Yein : Players really seemed to like the childhood of Oyster Cookie. Someone actually made the child version of Oyster Cookie into a real-life plushie! I want to have one, too!
Daye : April Fools’ Day event in 2022! I worked on illustrations for the April Fools’ versions of Cream Puff Cookie and GingerBrave. The funniest comments were all about GingerBrave wearing clothes. I was super glad that people liked it.
Q. Do you have any work habits as an artist?
Bokyung : Sometimes, when I find something cool like a plotted plant or find a tasty dessert, I often try to imagine it in the Cookie world and try to keep it close by. I keep saying to myself, “I’ll use it for an idea later.”
Yein : While eating something yummy, I get into the habit of imagining the concept like, "What if this is made into a Cookie?" When looking at objects instead of food, I jot it down on my notepad for future ideas on “interesting Cookies”.
Daye : Cookies are Cookies! I’ve developed a habit of always checking and rechecking the names of dishes and desserts. When browsing for clothes, I tend to take pictures of them so I can remember them better. And instead of me wearing those clothes, I imagine applying those designs to the Cookies and their Costumes. I have no knowledge of the game engine or coding, but when playing other games, I’m always fascinated by the optimization of graphics and approach it like I’m studying it. I guess I’ve stopped playing games for gaming. (Laughter.)
Our Recipes, Made Together
Q. Can you describe the "person who gets things done for you?”
Bokyung : Usually, a person who can do anything by themselves are diligent workers, yes. But I think that people who actively seek advice and share their worries and concerns when they need to are more inclined to produce results.
Yein : Someone who always adheres to a schedule! But they’re also smart enough to know about working hard and playing hard!!
Daye : In the game industry, I feel like that would be someone who can empathize with the work environment. The work I do and the environment doesn’t bring me down, it energizes me up!
Q. Who would you like to work with as a colleague?
Bokyung : I want to work with colleagues who can exchange feedback without pressuring each other, and who can help improve upon each other’s strong points. And now I am working with such colleagues!
Yein : I want to work with colleagues who exchange various concepts and ideas, those who help and encourage me to produce good work. I'm happy that I'm already doing well and working with such colleagues already.
Daye : I want to be with colleagues who can actively share ideas and feedback, and they’re just fun people to talk with! In fact, I always appreciate working with such colleagues already.
Q. Lastly, what does “Cookie” mean for you?
Bokyung : I think of Cookies as soulmats I’ve had since childhood. They’ve been my friends for almost ten years. It seems like destiny that I’m here at Studio Kingdom, “baking” Cookies and helping them come to life.
Yein : Childhood friends who rooted for me and my dreams. Ever since my middle school years and playing CookieRun for Kakao, they’ve been my friends. I feel like we essentially grew up together. And I hope I can continue growing together with them.
Characters running together and relying on each other in adventurous stories! We’re all going to make an extra effort to create more stories with these Cookie friends of ours.