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Hokyoung Kim

Hokyoung Kim

Meet illustrator from Queens and Seoul, Hokyoung Kim.

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

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.

 

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

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.

 

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

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.

 

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

Changing, Diverse, Frank

 

How did you start your career in art?

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.

 

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

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.

 

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

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.

 

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

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.

 

How would you describe the women around you?

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.

 

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

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.

 

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

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.

 

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

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

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