Some people learn from the classroom, others from experience. For Iqbal “BOO” Hakim, those life experiences have always been his copilot at work and play. And my, what might eye candy has he produced over the years! With a knack for digital art manipulation, Boo adds a touch of futurism and fantasy to beloved comic and cartoon characters. Sometimes slick and cool, sometimes eerie and gritty, and most of the time simply breathtaking, JUICE speaks to the official Phobiaklik and District designer to find out what colours his bytes…

Tell us about yourself.
I’m 24 years old and I currently reside in Selayang Baru, Batu Caves. I am a graduate from UiTM Melaka with a Diploma in Art & Design and from UiTM Shah Alam with a Bachelor of Art & Design. I love art. Even though I wasn’t fully satisfied at UiTM, I got exposed to a lot of different art techniques there. But some of the lecturers had a lack of technical skills. I never thought I would say this but some of them were really b!tches! Haha!

How did you get your nickname?
Well, every newcomer to UiTM would get a nickname from the so-called abang senior-it’s just campus tradition for freshies to get nicknames from their seniors. Actually, Boo is abbreviated from the word jambu, which in the colloquial BM term describes a person’s looks (ie. cute, baby-faced, beautiful, good-looking, etc). I’m guessing that my seniors gave me that name because I look younger than my real age and after some time, they just called me Boo.

You seem to like photo manipulation a lot. We totally dig the Iron Man-manga-Buzz Lightyear piece on your blog. How do you come up with an idea to mix up elements like that?
Yeah, I do love photo manipulation; it’s the area of my expertise. Aww…thanks for the love, JUICE. For this, 1st I did it in AI then I completed the work in Photoshop. But what I do is not just cut and mix elements; I have to manipulate the original image using my imagination and then try to transform it into something that doesn’t exist in reality. I feel that there are 3 basic things that I can get decent ideas from: imagination, the environment and culture. Graphic design blogs or websites such as and are sources that help me generate ideas.

When did you start getting into digital art?
I started doing digital work in early 2006. Basically, it was the year I got started in Photoshop and Illustrator. Then, I uploaded my 1st digital artwork at and received positive feedback. The rest is history…

Does this mean you’re not good with the brush and canvas?
It’s not that I’m not good with those art mediums. As I said before, I got exposed to a lot of different types of art at UiTM, but it’s just that my passion for now is digital art.

Who have you worked for?
My past jobs are from various clients, from corporations to individuals. For freelance jobs, I got more income from 3D designs than others. You can see all of my 3D works at my coroflot portfolio (

You’ve also designed food menus. How do you make a food menu attractive?
For me, how attractive the food menu is depends on the food image itself. At the same time, adjusting colour, position and layout composition also make it more attractive.

How did you hook up with street art collective Phobiaklik and its store District?
I met Katun (of Phobiaklik) at UiTM and we became best friends. Then he introduced me to the founder of Phobiaklik (Bee), and I helped him with his website and designs. Now I’m the official Phbklk/District designer. My work has since been featured in Invasion magazine (Hong Kong) and Junk magazine.

What influences your art?
My influences come from digital and photo manipulation artists; Slashtree, Deviantart and Behance websites; and designs that play with lights, colour and neon…

Who are your favourite artists?
I love Chuck Anderson and Adam Spizak, and for local artists I admire
Riddle of Revenge, Katun, Razali Hassan, Brokenfuse, Mr Maman, Ajid al-Kapon, Acit, Spacemogot and 84cube. They’re great!

You said on your blog that, “My philosophy has always been to 1st make things smart and then make them pretty.” Could you explain this further?
Actually, what I meant was when I do any of my work, I’ll do it wisely and not just hentam. I use design principals such as balance, proportion, colour, style, etc. After combining all of these principals including the ideas, I’ll try to make it pretty for the eyes to see.

Most rock albums have cool artwork. So which band would you like to design a cover for?
As I Lay Dying, Protest The Hero and All Shall Perish. I’d like to design the cover with my style, which plays with dark manipulation. Why? Simply cos I think my style suits the genre.

What would you like to see more of visually in Malaysia?
I hope that one day Malaysian digital art will be on the same level as those from overseas. We have many potential newbies in this scene.

So what’s next for the mighty Boo?
My next step is to improve my technical skills, hone my ideas and help the digital art scene in Malaysia. Because I have my own style while others follow more conventional-but still impressive-styles, it’s challenging for me to make my style more well-known. But I have fun trying.

And no one would boo you for that!
That’s right!

Check out Boo’s works at,, and

Images Boo