I am an illustrator currently living in Queens, NY. I was born and grew up in Seoul, South Korea, and moved to the US for Illustration studies.
New York feels very different to me now compared to my first impressions.
My first visit to New York was rainy and gray. I barely walked around the city because of the weather. My initial impression was that the city was cold and gloomy. However, it changed dramatically when I revisited in 2016. The qualities that people describe as the “bad” parts of New York are actually the ones I liked. Something is always happening. There are always changes occurring, whether it be in good or bad ways. Although it can give me stress, I still appreciate the way that New York moves.
Seoul is also a city that changes all the time. It is very sensitive to current trends and willing to accept the new without hesitation. The one thing that never changes is the fact that Seoul is where I am rooted. In the past, I tried so hard to deny the fact that I am comfortable being in Seoul-being in Korea in general. Now I am comfortable with the city and that I am from Seoul. I guess at this moment, I am somewhere between Seoul and New York. I am comfortable with that.
I guess at this moment, I am somewhere between Seoul and New York. I am comfortable with that.
There is easier access to enjoy a lot of new things like exhibitions, shows, and concerts. That also means that I have to pay to live here to enjoy those things and be so close to it all. It has pros and cons, but I just want to focus on the good parts since everything has two sides.
Changing, Diverse, Frank
My mom said I was always drawing whenever she saw me. She guessed that I was very interested in art, and supported me since I was young.
I am not sure if I really enjoyed drawing, or if I just wanted to get attention from mom, but that’s how I started. I had questions of whether I was doing this because I liked it, or because I’ve been doing it for so long. After graduating from the university in Korea, I worked in the film industry as a part of the production design team for a year. Through this experience, I explored different types of art while also searching for my reason for doing art. Eventually, I found that I genuinely liked to draw. My path to becoming an illustrator started here. Though unsure if I would be an illustrator forever, I had a refreshed mind and knew I will do art no matter what.
My path to becoming an illustrator started here. Though unsure if I would be an illustrator forever, I had a refreshed mind and knew I will do art no matter what.
Yes. When my mom realized that I am not interested in studying, she gave up her personal hopes of what I could become (like making me a diplomat) and started to support me. I would say I was lucky to be supported by my parents, but it was tough to satisfy them. I had to create the “best result” and become successful. I still wonder: what is the best result and being a successful person in this field? Guess that could mean paying the rent and living well in NY.
Work-wise, I am really open to anything. I would love to work on movie posters or anything related to the film industry, and am hopeful of working with more book publishers. It would be exciting to work on interactive formats as well. Personal work-wise, I want to make a zine or create any kind of print format filled with my own stories. Hopefully, I can finish it by end of this year.
Work-wise, I am really open to anything. I would love to work on movie posters or anything related to the film industry, and am hopeful of working with more book publishers. It would be exciting to work on interactive formats as well.
This is hard to say because I think my work is not flexible enough for collaborative projects. So far, I would say that I can’t picture a collaboration, but if there are any cool projects that can unify different types of work, I am totally willing to collaborate.
They are hard workers and very ambitious in many ways. My mom is my role model as a woman in my life. She’s worked so hard to get what she wants, even though there were tough obstacles to overcome. She went to the Korean army to get support to study, entered the subway company after discharge, became the first female executive in the company, and got a doctorate when she retired. I really admire her endless effort and passion.
They are hard workers and very ambitious in many ways.
During my years of college in Korea, I admired Seoung-hee Ryu, a Film production designer in Korea. She’s worked with Park Chan-wook and Bong Joon-ho often. It is said that she is the person who paved the way for the concept of Production Design in Korea. Before that, it was just a part of Mise-en-scène by prop teams or not even considered as an important part of Movie production. Her work is amazing. I really love her direction and how she communicates with other directors. She knows what she likes to do, and how to expand it.
Being a female gives me a different perspective on working in this industry, which is good. I haven’t thought of this is as a weakness or something that gives disadvantages.
Everyone has their own pace, just take a deep breath and keep walking.
Everyone has their own pace, just take a deep breath and keep walking. It’s fine to sit and take a break and it’s fine to be nervous. You will be fine.
Photos courtesy of Hokyoung Kim
May 29, 2020