#WFH Diaries: Karin Fong of Imaginary Forces

As quarantines continue across much of the world, we're checking in with creative people to see how they're handling the ongoing WFH situation. Below, we chat with Karin Fong, director and designer at Imaginary Forces, a design studio and creative agency that specializes in identities and title sequences for entertainment properties.

Give us a one-line bio of yourself. 

I'm a director and designer at Imaginary Forces.

Where are you living right now, and who's with you? 

At home in Los Angeles with my husband, 8-year-old daughter, 9-year-old son, and all of our imaginary friends. 

What's your work situation like at the moment? 

Our entire studio became fully remote very quickly. We were kind of primed for it, since my colleague Alan Williams had shot a campaign for the Tokyo Olympics, and our artists in the post-production stage were scattered from Asia to our East Coast. Hats off to our IT team for getting us set up so seamlessly. It's been amazing to see all that we can do working together from home. Just last week we delivered my first "100% remote" project—a main title sequence for I'll Be Gone in the Dark, an upcoming documentary series for HBO. It felt like a milestone, a test tube baby of sorts.

Describe your socializing strategy. 

The walk and talk. As I've swapped out my car commute, I call friends during my daily walks. There's also the "stand six feet from your neighbor's door while chatting" strategy. Everyone here is taking walks so we see our neighbors more than ever. 

How are you dealing with childcare? 

We've formed a "bubble" with our nanny Hillary, who is a godsend. We're incredibly spoiled to have her, quarantine or not. Especially now that there are expanded roles for us parents to fill. I'm a bit of a cruise director-slash-taskmaster, and my husband will handle PE and the larger IT issues. We're lucky that our kids are in a bit of a sweet spot—old enough to read and be somewhat independent. They had limited screen time before this and are now excited to navigate it. It is both charming and sobering to see them already setting up Zoom calls and making slide decks for their schoolwork. 

What are you reading? 

I stayed up way too late reading Janelle Brown's heist thriller Pretty Things. 

What are you watching? 

We finally got a MasterClass subscription and have been dabbling in the courses in a very un-master-like, dilettante way. A couple with David Sedaris, a few with the guy who negotiates hostage situations … the useful things. Also, Little Fires Everywhere—though the titles were a recent project of ours, I only got to watch the pilot while working on it! 

Little Fires Everywhere Main Title

For family night , we just started a stop-motion Japanese Netflix series called Rilakkuma and Kaori. It's about a grown woman who has a rather mundane life but goes home to living, life-sized stuffies. 

What are you listening to? 

Many many repetitions of "Twinkle Twinkle," "Puff the Magic Dragon," "Zip A Dee Doo Dah," Bach's Minuet in G and "The Entertainer," now that I can hear our kids practice the violin and piano daily. Most nights, my son will take out his trumpet for the "8 p.m. cheer for health workers" ritual. He'll play "When the Saints Go Marching In" from our balcony, if he's feelin' it.

How are you staying fit? 

Not quite sure I am. Lots of baked goods around here. But I try with stair walks—we live on a hill with 14 hidden staircases. Also, random app classes, and rousing games of tetherball—a recent addition to the backyard that throws me back to elementary school.

Have you taken up a hobby? 

I sure thought I would! 

Any tips for getting necessities? 

We're lucky the Hollywood Farmers Market is still going strong so we get a lot of our fresh food there, along with a weekly order from McCalls, our local butcher, who has pickup hours. We do realize getting our necessities like this is actually a luxury.

An awkward moment since all this started. 

I am relatively new to AirPods, and I don't always realize when they are on or off. My son has taken to making a little Post-it sign that he'll slip to me: "We can hear the people you're talking to. FIX YOUR EARPODS."

Best work email you got since all this started. 

An email from SXSW that our sequence for SEE won their title design award! (Yes they have a title design category, bless 'em.) We were so bummed that SXSW was canceled right before all this, then thrilled that the website Art of the Title posted all of the entries and that the judging continued remotely. The news definitely lifted our spirits. Speaking of, we immediately scheduled a team Zoom call to literally lift our spirits—in glasses, that is—to toast our win.

SEE Main Title
An aha! moment since all this started. 

That strangely it's a time I will cherish in many ways. It's wonderful to eat three meals a day with my favorite people, every day. To spend days on end together, something that's usually reserved for holidays and vacation. I was chatting with a neighbor who had to leave Afghanistan for India with her family when she was young. She remembered that while their interim situation was full of anxiety for her parents, she and her brother had a ball during that period. I get the sense my kids will look back fondly at this time like that.

What's your theory on how this is going to play out? 

I envision moments in the far future where my grandchildren are rolling their eyes as my now-grown children and I recount how we had stay at home, wait in line for Trader Joe's, with no visitors, no playdates for weeks and weeks … "C'mon Grandma … not that story about how you had to wear a mask to go shopping AGAIN."

See the full #WFH Diaries series here.

Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd was editor in chief of the Clio Awards and editor of Muse by Clio from 2018 to 2023.

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