After a string of interviews (ours included), Italian artist Simone Legno zips off straight to the LeSportsac store to autograph and speed-draw sketches for every fan queuing to see him. In the two hours we’re there, the line hardly ever stops for this popular artist. 

He’s the man behind the sassy and fiendishly cute characters of Tokidoki, the creative force that even Karl Lagerfeld himself could not resist teaming up with.

We got to meet the artist, thanks to his latest line for LeSportsac; see 20 of our favourite finds from the collection here.

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The artist Simone Legno of Tokidoki. Image: Tokidoki

“The collaborations [with LeSportsac] are the ones that I cherish the most, and probably the ones that everybody knows,” says Legno. He’d first started working with the now Japanese-owned bag and accessories brand in 2006, when his colourful designs spurred a shopping frenzy for the sporty bags.

Now, his list of current and ongoing collaborations goes on, almost endlessly. The artist tells us that he works on as many as 15 projects at any one time, while being perfectionistic about every “three millimetres” of space between each character on his zany, yet artfully composed crowd scenes.

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Pouches from the Tokidoki x LeSportsac collection. Image: LeSportsac

Here, we quiz the artist on all things including his colourful cartoon world, a possible Tokidoki store in Singapore and even that Hello Kitty cat-or-girl confusion.

1. Palette is a leopard
Don’t let those round ears fool you; Palette is actually a snow leopard, says Simone Legno. He’d designed this new character specially for the American bag and accessories brand LeSportsac and had imagined Palette as a “very elegant, feminine and beautiful feline” with spots that change in colour according to her mood.

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The Palette-shaped backpacks from the Tokidoki x LeSportsac collection. Images: LeSportsac

Legno explains that “she’s like a mutable leopard that changes with seasons, like the LeSportsac collections. It’s all about the changing prints and patterns each season. Palette turns grey when she’s moody; red when she’s upset.”

2. But it’s okay if you think that Palette’s a cat
Even then, the artist hardly minds if you think of Palette as another creature; he has heard her being compared to a cat — because of its whiskers — and a bear too. “She’s an invented character, so if you get confused, don’t worry,” he chuckles.

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Tokidoki artist Simone Legno created Palette the snow leopard (above) for his latest LeSportsac collection. Image: Tokidoki

3. Yet to him, Hello Kitty is very feline
“For me, it’s a cat,” says Legno on that Hello Kitty confusion. The artist can’t conceive of the beloved Sanrio character as anything else, albeit with the diplomatic disclaimer. “Sanrio is like a family to me; I’ve worked with them for eight years,” says he. “If they make such a statement [that Hello Kitty is not a cat], I’ll respect that.”

4. A Tokidoki store may soon open in Singapore
The artist is a regular fixture at the yearly Singapore Toy and Comic Convention, thanks to supportive fans and yes, upcoming plans to open a stand-alone Tokidoki store in Singapore. “At the start of this year, we opened stores in Bangkok, to continue on with China and hopefully soon, Singapore,” shares the artist.

5. His dream: A Tokidoki-ed airplane
The artist already considers his Karl Lagerfeld team-up one of his top career achievements; so what’s next, then? It turns out that he hopes to upsize his characters, quite literally: He hopes to cover an airplane in his Tokidoki creations.

6. Tokidoki at the casino soon
Previously, the artist has put his designs on towels from Singapore sportswear and accessories brand Coolcore. His next Singapore team-up however, is something you’d hardly expect; and perhaps something that will surprisingly set back some pretty pennies for local fans. “You’ll see Tokidoki slot machines soon inside the Marina Bay Sands casino,” says Legno. “In Singapore, it’s exclusive to Marina Bay Sands.”

The Tokidoki LeSportsac Autumn Winter 2014 collection is now in stores. Shop for the collection at ION Orchard, #B1-12A, Isetan Scotts Level 1, Isetan Orchard, Robinsons JEM Level 2 and Takashimaya Level 2.