Artwork by Simon Koay || Words by Mandi Pimental

SUPERBET is the latest artistic grandchild from creative graphic designer Simon Koay. The series which is inspired by valiant heroes and super villains, is an A-Z typographic depiction of our childhood favorites. The lettered creations are each inspired by a character who shares their own name initial and are instantly recognizable to any true comic book fan or movie buff. The project has taken off and gained much media attention, having been featured on Wired, ABC, CNet, and more, taking Koay’s project to a level he never thought possible. We spoke to Koay about the project and got a glimpse into the creative mind of this graphical superhero.

Your works in SUPERBET promote strength and fantasy, what inspired you to do this project? Throughout my life I’ve always had a love for superheroes. As a child, drawing these characters was a huge part of learning how to draw. as a designer in my adult years, I also have a love for type design. So, for this project, I thought it’d be interesting to combine the two. By the core, visual aesthetic and behaviors of these characters and reimagining them as letterforms, I created something that was fresh and interesting.

Which super hero character would you say you most relate with and why? I can’t say there is a particular character I can really fully identify with, but definitely traits in characters I really admire. I think that everyone can take a page out of Charles Xaiver’s book in striving for equality and peaceful coexistence in the world, whether it is between humans and mutants, or for us – humans of different nations.

What is your ultimate goal with the SUPERBET project? To be honest it’s very much just a fan art project that accidentally received a lot of attention. So there wasn’t really a ‘goal’. But now that the work is out there and available as prints, knowing people are hanging my work on their walls makes me pretty happy.

In each of your designs there is so much energy and vibrancy. What is the main message you try to depict when putting something new out into the world? I think for all creatives making work, especially if the work is for you and not for a client, it’s important to put out something fresh and original. It might just be looking at something from a different perspective, combining things you’d never think go together or creating something entirely new. Art is constantly evolving, so why waste time on recreating things that already exist?

SUPERBET has gained much media attention, was this the intention you set when it was created, or did this come as a surprise? It definitely came as a surprise. When I set out to do the project, it was because my day job wasn’t utilizing my illustration skills and I just wanted to create something for myself for fun. So when I received the first email by a prominent website asking about SUPERBET, I was ecstatic! I also love reading comments by upset fans about why I didn’t choose this or that character. Choosing Spider-man over Superman seemed to anger many fans.

What’s next for Simon Koay? I have been collaborating on an illustrated children’s book written by Michael Wang (Singapore) to be released in May. I’m also getting back into the advertising industry as a creative, but hope to continue illustrating in my own time.