get in touch

** I am unavailable for freelance work until January 2014 **

If you'd like  to get in touch about a freelance project or just to say hi, please send me a message using the form or via twitter at @ivonnekn.

~ Ivonne




If you have a budget in mind, please let me know.
Do you have a timeline for your project or a hard deadline for launch?


Designer and illustrator specializing in brand identity design, web design and UI/UX design, based in Toronto via Milton.


Filtering by Category: Projects

100 Days of Making

Ivonne Karamoy

Yesterday marked the end of my 100 days of making. As part of #The100DayProject, instigated by artist Elle Luna and The Great Discontent, I committed to a line drawing each day for 100 days from April 5th - July 14th. The result is a body of work, the seeds of ideas, a lovely daily practice and most importantly the realization of the importance of play in my work and in my life.

I will admit that I fell behind constantly and was rarely on track except for maybe the first 30 days. There were days when I knew what I wanted to draw, most days I didn't. There were days when I hated what I drew and other times when I loved it. Days when it was a chore and days when it was a respite. Days when I thought it was stupid and days when it was inspirational. But one thing was for sure, every time I was on track, every time I completed a drawing, good or bad, I felt productive, accomplished and liberated.

View the complete 100 days (and more) of line drawings

I had some very simple goals for the project:

  1. To give myself permission to draw every day.
  2. To draw whatever I felt like and not worry about concept or problems or anything of consequence - essentially, to play.
  3. To complete a personal body of work without the expectation of polish.
  4. To finish. Working primarily on the web, I crave the idea of finishing something and to have it remain in that state forever.

I accomplished all of them except maybe #2. I say maybe because I did draw whatever I felt like but I found that as the project continued I did worry about consequence. There were days when I worried about the superficiality of what I was drawing. Girls in fashionable clothing, animals in silhouette, a cupcake, an apple. What did it all mean? Where will it lead me? I had to remind myself that it meant nothing, that it doesn't have to mean anything. That the whole point of this project was to make. It was about the act of making, not the final image. It was about drawing for the sake of drawing, playing for the sake of playing.

I'm a designer. I solve problems. That's what I love about design. I approach a problem, I analyze it, I look at it in different ways and I critique every decision. Being analytical and critical is important to design. But I've realized that for me it can also overcomplicate things. It's easy to get lost in all the data, in all the market research, but the best designs are elegant in their simplicity. So the practice of making, of playing each day is essential for me to get out of my head. To be less serious, have fun and let the ideas flow even if they mean nothing. That's what this project allowed me to do. 

I hadn't realized when I started just how critical I can be with myself and how serious I can be. That has affected my work, my life and my conviction. Thoughtfulness is important to me. But great design is thoughtful and playful. And what's life without a little playfulness? So thanks to this project I am learning to play, to make, to create without consequence and to get out of my head.

There's a time and place for everything, so when it's time to play, play. Enjoy it and don't overanalyze. And when it's time for work, perhaps some of that play will sneak in and help you get out of your head. After all it takes some playfulness to turn a problem upside down, inside out and back together again.

Though the project has ended, I'm continuing on with my drawings. It is a valuable habit that I'd like to keep. This time I'm going to consciously allow myself to play when I want to and to be thoughtful when I want to, giving each the proper space. If you'd like to follow along, I'm @ivonnekn on Instagram.


Mission 4 "City of Immigrants" is LIVE!

Ivonne Karamoy

It's that time again! The 4th installment of Mission US is LIVE!

"City of Immigrants" follows Lena Brodsky, a 14 year old Russian Jewish immigrant girl newly arrived in New York City in 1907. She is faced with the challenge of supporting herself and her family, dealing with labour issues for women in the garment industry and her increased need for independence as she outgrows adolescence.

I've been working on this project for the last year with the wonderful folks at EFS and it's been as rewarding as all the others. I am still in love with the idea of leveraging technology and games for education. It's an innovative and fun way for students to learn some difficult concepts and really delve into history and story telling. It's one thing to read about history but it's another to get a sense of what it felt like to live in that time, and Mission US gives students just that.

This particular mission is close to my heart because it takes place in turn-of-the-20th-century New York City. Firstly, I love NYC. Secondly, I love history. It's been fun to go back in time and consider the life people lived back in 1907.

As with all the other missions, we worked with a lot of historical references...

It was important to ensure the character designs were appropriate for the time, so the hair styles and clothing was important to get right.

As NYC was ripe with new immigrants, we wanted to capture the different ethnicities of the characters. In the game, Lena meets other Russians and Jews in her community, befriends an Italian girl, and meet white, Protestant Americans at her work in the garment factory.

Rosa's family are immigrants from Naples, Italy.

Rosa's family are immigrants from Naples, Italy.

James Poole encounters Lena to talk about her work at the garment factory.

James Poole encounters Lena to talk about her work at the garment factory.

The game environment was built in 3D and although our characters were designed in vector form, the combination of the two works quite well.

Each character illustration started with a character description and their storyline in the narrative of the game. Some reference material was collected for each character. Historical characters, especially, needed to be as accurate as possible to their real life counterparts. For example, this character illustration of Clara Lemlich, a leader of the massive strike of shirtwaist workers in New York's garment district in 1909, was based entirely on one of the few portraits that exist of her.

Photo of Clara Lemlich

Character art of Clara Lemlich

For the fictional characters, including Lena, I took the reference material and the character description to outline a sketch of the character. Some sketches are detailed, some are less so capturing the pose of the character more than the details.

I then take my sketch and the reference materials into Illustrator and draw out the character in vector form.

To get a glimpse into my illustration process, check out this time-lapse video of the Rosa character illustration.

The character vector art is then sent to the folks at EFS to check for accuracy. Some back and forth may be required to get things right, but generally it's good to go.

For the major characters that the player encounters, a talking head was created from the vector art. For that several different expressions for the face was created and various lip states which was turned into a talking head. The different states and expressions was turned into a spritesheet which is used in the game engine for use in the dialog. This allowed us to bring the character to life using different expressions at appropriate moments in the dialog. The character talks and blinks giving it a more life like feel.

A unique character in this mission was the character of Isidor, Lena's baby nephew. He doesn't talk but he does what babies do - he doesn't sit still and he cries. So the character art was created as well as a small animation of him crying. You only ever see him carried by his mother Sonya.

Here is a shot of some of the major characters for this mission...

And some minor characters that you come across throughout the game...

I had fun creating the cast of this game. Bringing character descriptions to life and seeing them in action in the game is incredibly gratifying.

You can check out details of the game and play it at

Onto the next mission!

Rosa (Time Lapse Video)

Ivonne Karamoy

I've been busy illustrating characters for the next installment of Mission 4 of Mission US, which is set in turn-of-the-century New York during the big immigration boom. This time I recorded a few of my illustrations... This is Rosa, a young 14-year old Italian immigrant girl who our main character Lena befriends.

I start these characters with a quick pencil sketch based on some approved historical reference images.

Italian family doing homework.jpg
Lewis Hine - A group of girl workers at Greenabaum's Cannery. They range from 6 years of age up. Seaford, Delaware, 1910.jpg

I spent some time exercising my hand drawing abilities to get the hands right, as you can see from the hand sketches around the page.

The pencil sketch is where I make all my illustration decisions and what you see is basically what you get once I digitize it. I make some minor changes and decisions as I digitize it but it's pretty much just tracing and coloring at that point with illustrator, which takes a few hours. There's generally one or two rounds of minor tweaks until we get the final character art...

Mission US - "Most Significant Impact" award at G4C

Ivonne Karamoy

I'm so thrilled to share that Mission US: A Cheyenne Odyssey won the Most Significant Impact category at this years Games for Change. The award is honors games targeted most successfully at a specific social issue, with proven actions and/or outcomes. I've always been proud of being a part of the team at Electric Funstuff who, in partnership with Thirteen and the American Social History Project, produce the games.

Here's what people have been saying about it:

CBS News - NY Teacher Turns to Video Games to Encourage Learning

Let's Get Serious About Video Games (on

BrainPOP on the award and Mission US

Mission US: A Cheyenne Odyssey is the 3rd mission in the Mission US series. It puts players in the role of a Cheyenne boy, Little Fox, in 1866 as he grows up and makes decisions in reaction to the encroachment of settlers, expansion of railroads, decline of buffalo and the rise of the reservation system in the 1860s and 1870s.

It's no secret this is one of my treasured projects. Games have an ability to capture an audience (especially the young ones) and keep them engaged in a way that many things cannot. And to use this in a way that successfully educates children in an unbiased, participatory and exciting manner is a feat. I commend the game designers, historians and writers on this project for writing and designing such a diverse game that allows children to get an understanding of what history felt like at the time rather than our analyses of it after the fact. It's a pleasure designing characters for such a rich and powerful game.

We're hard at work on the next one which will be out later this year. Check out my Mission US project page for more info about this project.

Mission US - learning through gaming

Ivonne Karamoy

I've been involved with the Mission US project for a long time now and it always amazes me how amazingly innovative it is. The concept of gaming as an educational tool is still relatively new and there's few games who do it well. The strength of Mission US, in my opinion, is that it delivers educational material that can otherwise be very dry and engages kids while learning them. Not only that, they take a critical approach to history and are able to analyze it through their own lens. They can discuss their decisions and their perspectives with their classmates and they learn to do so with an open mind. No run of the game is the same, and each student makes choices that are true to their own analysis of the situation. They bring their own perspectives and approach the events in history as someone standing there at that particular time - not as an outsider looking in. They can do this all socially and collaboratively with their classmates rather than via an essay or report as is traditionally done.

Mission US launched with it's first mission, For Crown or Colony, back in 2010. But production began in 2008. It is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Endowment for the Humanities. The project is produced by WNET Thirteen and developed by Electric Funstuff. There are a variety of partners that help make this project happen with their historical and educational resources. For a complete list check out the partners page.

The game was always intended to be public so that teachers from around the country (U.S.A.) could use the material to supplement their curriculum to engage kids in a different way. The project has become a great example of how gaming could be used effectively in education.

Mission 1 log in screen.

Mission 1 log in screen.

My role with the Mission US project has changed since it's inception. But I've always enjoyed creating the characters that make this game come to life. It's a challenge to design characters based on the needs of the game and on historical references. Some of the characters that you encounter in the game are historical figures and it's imperative that they look and feel like the real person. Even the fictitious characters carry with them a historical weight in terms of their appearance, their voice and their role which enables kids to really engage with them. Collaborating with the historians at ASHP teaches me more and more about history and I'm constantly stimulated creatively and intellectually by this project. I am thankful to be a part of it.

When I first started with the project I was a young illustrator and learned my process as I went along. You can read more about my role(s) on the project here, but I'd like to really dive in and take you through my process to give you a sense of the art work that goes into a project of this magnitude and significance. It's an ongoing project and it helps for me to stop and take stock of my own processes and art work and figure out how we can better it for the next mission.

Mission 1 is where it all started and when I began to dip my toes in character design. I owe a lot of this to James Cukr, who was the Art Director for this mission and taught me a lot about illustration and how to take your sketches and turn them into digital artwork in Illustrator. He really kickstarted the visual design for this project and I continued on where he left off.

Over the years, each mission has been different than the next and the artwork has changed. For Mission 2, I lead the entire game art design, including all characters and locations. In Mission 3, we introduced 3D locations and game environments. I continued to work as the lead character designer. This third mission had more cut scenes as the storyline expanded several years. Mission 4 will be similar to Mission 3 with a mix of vector characters which I am leading and 3D game environments. This next mission will also have a UI overhaul, moving away from the generic UI that we've seen to something that matches the style of that era as the game takes place in 1907 New York City. As a result, the map pins will also have an overhaul. Stay tuned for Mission 4 to come out later this year or early next.