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So Jin Park

So Jin Park

Meet South Korean graphic artist based in Germany, So Jin Park.

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

1.

I am a ‘scanner type.’ I am interested in various subjects and fields and can hardly concentrate on one specific theme or thing. Still, my main focus is doing projects in order to point out systems and elements which can enable accumulation of unbalances and unhappiness in a global society. I am currently concentrating on my graduation project on technologically and digitally produced discrimination, regarding database, AI, and Co.

But I do have things I always love: sand, glass, tone on tone look, dazzling combinations of colors and patterns, books, magazines, thin papers, all kinds of small yellow things, white cups, glass cups, form of a triangular pyramid, danceable music and songs by female rappers, exhibitions of contemporary art, independent design book stores, good espresso, and sunshine. (I hope I could find a new thing that I can love. Soon.)

2.

I try things I really want to, without much-considering consequences. After I got a Bachelor’s degree in English and French literature in Seoul, I flew to Cairo to live and work there; Without any reason. I love pyramids, the desert, and its ancient culture, which had greatly affected the formation of occidental culture. During my stay, a small bomb attack has happened in the most popular bazaar in Cairo. Since there was almost no work anymore, I had to go back to Seoul.

Then, I started working as a literary agent, out of blind love for printed matters. While I was spending time with fascinating books from all around the world—beautiful picture books above all, I felt more and more desire to create such things on my own. So, for two years, I thought about studying design in Germany. (At that time, I had fallen in love with Berlin, after reading an essay about it.) My final answer was ‘yes’.

Now, I am studying graphic design in Germany. (If you are curious about the accumulated consequences of these actions, you may contact me personally, at any time.)

 

Describe the city you’re living in and what it’s like to live there.

I am actually just returned from Seoul, my hometown. Seoul is a dynamic metropolis, which has incredibly diverse aspects. I truly love being in Seoul, because it still has undiscovered areas for me and because it is my hometown, where I have my family and my good old friends.

Before flying to Seoul, I have lived in Berlin. This is where I can feel really free. You can project your own color onto this city.

Now, I came back to Halle an der Saale, 170 km south from Berlin. It’s a very small, eastern German city. It is actually quite boring to live here. There is no contemporary museum, no good bookshop, no place to enjoy the music I like or to drink good espresso, which is very important in my daily life. Instead, the city has a convenient size, nice Saale river, cheap rent, and of course, the wonderful art university where I am studying.

Even though it is thrilling and joyful to live in Germany and do my own projects, the situation that I had to sacrifice my life with my family, my old friends, my own culture and language is still painful. It will always stay so, as long as I live abroad. Though, sometimes, it’s so interesting to compare cultural differences with friends between the cities I have lived: Seoul, Berlin, Cairo, Lyon, Angers, and Halle.

 

What is the best and worst thing about living in your city?

In Halle/Saale, the best thing is that I can do whatever I want. Almost. The worst thing is that you can find ‘unconscious’ racists everywhere. (The most shocking moments for me were when I have found some of them at the university. Somehow regularly.) This is out of my—also from others—personal experiences and observation in the last 5 years. However, there are some people who passionately undertake things against this situation. I am truly thankful to them.

 

Give us 3 words that describe what it’s like to be a creative in your city.

Anticipative. Proud. Thankful.

 

How did you start your career in art?

The start in the field of graphic design is as written above. And the psychological motive comes from the constant urge to visually expose hidden systems, which produce unfairness and unhappiness in society. Maybe this tendency comes from my mother; She always emphasized equal treatment between me and my sister.

 

And the psychological motive comes from the constant urge to visually expose hidden systems, which produce unfairness and unhappiness in society.

Were the people around you supportive of your decision on working as a creative?

Oh, yes. Happily always.

 

What are some goals and ambitions you have for your future work?

As a graphic designer, I want to do social and political projects through collaboration with many people. Unpolitical things are uninteresting for me. I believe I can achieve many things combining my sense of pointing out important social themes and the ability to visually interpret it. I want to discover and show some hidden aspects of a certain theme/phenomenon/thing to many people so that they could have a chance to rethink and rediscover about it.

 

I want to discover and show some hidden aspects of a certain theme/phenomenon/thing to many people so that they could have a chance to rethink and rediscover about it.

 

If you could collaborate with any person in the world who would it be?

The CEO of Google. (It wouldn’t matter who the person is. I think the activities of Google are much stronger than any CEO as an individual.) Since I don’t quite like some of its fields of business, two of us might start discussing what each of us loves to do and why. After a long conversation, we might come to an idea and create an interesting thing together. The point of this is, how I would do a project with someone who has completely different values, interests, goals in life, background, and so on. It’s just out of curiosity.

 

How would you describe the women around you?

Independent. Smart. Individual. Strong. Cool. These are personalities the women designers and students I have met.

 

Independent. Smart. Individual. Strong. Cool. 

Were there any local female creatives that you looked up to when you were growing up?

Somehow I never had a specific role model in my life. Sometimes it’s sad when I think about it. Sometimes it’s comforting.

 

Are there any challenging aspects of being a female in your industry?

Yes.

First of all, many people suppose that graphic design is something which is not difficult and thus can be done at a very low cost. Or even for free. One of the reasons for this is many results of graphic design in everyday life are distributed for free. Also, many people still hardly understand what graphic design is.

Secondly, because of (international) marriage and childbirth, the careers of female graphic designers are in danger. We need more female designers in order to balance the world.

Thirdly, I don’t think that I have heard about a country, where female graphic designers or women receive higher annual income and payment on average than male ones or men. Is this my illusion or a reality?

Lastly, if you are a foreigner and a female, your position in the industry could be even more vulnerable, depending on the people around you and the systems you are living in.

 

Persistently explore and investigate what you love.

Do you have any advice to young women who are aspiring to work in your field?

Persistently explore and investigate what you love.

If you think there are things which are not fair for you and for others, speak up. Speak about it with people around you. Then it will be better. 🙂

 

Photos courtesy of So Jin Park.

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