As a hip-hop illustrator, South Korean Mina Kwon gives ordinary cartoon characters lots of swagger.
For a T-shirt collaboration with fashion brand Forever 21, she transformed the goofy SpongeBob into a hip-hop star, complete with jeans, baseball cap and a gold chain necklace.
Cute teddy bears get tough with the addition of ripped jeans and work boots.
In her hands, even demure actress Audrey Hepburn gets a street edge, flashing her middle finger in one of Kwon's illustrations.
Through her edgy designs, the 30-year-old South Korean has struck up friendships with celebrities, such as Pharrell Williams and K-pop boyband BigBang's Taeyang and G-Dragon (Kwon Ji Yong).
"Because we hang out and have the same surname, rumours have spread that I am G-Dragon's sister," says Kwon, with a laugh.
Kwon, who started drawing at three, has looked to hip-hop music for inspiration since the age of 10, when she first saw rapper 2Pac's music video and was hooked on its beat.
It was through hip-hop music that Kwon also picked up English. The soft-spoken artist was in town last week to launch her latest work - a rabbit character called Essy that appears on a tote bag, cosmetic pouch and pocket mirror, in collaboration with multi-label store Escentials.
The Escentials x Mina Kwon Experience Kit contains all three items and includes an assortment of samples from brands such as GlamGlow, Diptyque, Ren and Commes des Garcons. The kit is available in Escentials stores at Tangs Orchard and Paragon for $59.
As she removes her cap and sunglasses during the interview, Kwon reveals her porcelain skin, but says there is no secret to it.
"I don't use make-up, just a lot of sunblock. I also drink plenty of water," says Kwon, who is single.
Aside from collaborations with various brands, her work is available on her online store (www.minakwon.com).
"Drawing has always been a hobby for me; I never thought that it would be my career."
7 THINGS IN HER BAG
1. HELLO KITTY PILL CASE
I've filled this up with chewing gum. A friend thought it would be funny to give me this, knowing that I don't like Hello Kitty because it's so feminine.
2. APPLE IPHONE 6
I love the Minion characters because they're so cute. I've done some drawings of them too.
I always have my sketchbook with me in case I am inspired. This bear is one of my characters. It was named Thugy by my friend Song Minho, a rapper in the boy band Winner.
4. MOSCHINO WALLET
Zico from the K-pop band Block B gave me this because I did a drawing for him.
This cosmetic pouch is part of my collaboration with the multi-label beauty store Escentials. I tapped into my girly side and created Essy the rabbit. It also shows off the products that Escentials carries.
6. PENCIL CASE
Isn't this adorable? I got it in Japan. It has just a few pencils and pens inside. I keep my colour pencils in another pouch.
7. APPLE IPOD
I listen to a lot of hip-hop and R&B music. Right now, my favourite artiste is Jamie Foxx.
This article was first published on June 19, 2015.
Get a copy of Urban, The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.