Interview conducted by Yuko Shimizu.
1) You have a degree in Biology from college in Korea, and went onto work at a lab. Then you moved to UK to study illustration. Can you talk about your big life-change?
I was always a doodler and even in the lab I was drawing on flasks, cell medium bottles. I am still amazed with mysteries in the human body and in animal behavior but I wasn’t a creative researcher. I quit my job (I secretly wanted to study art in Paris) and initially went to the UK to study Art therapy because I didn’t have the guts to throw away the studies I did (my minor is in psychology) altogether. It doesn’t make sense if I think about it now since lot of art therapists are either long practicing artists or social workers for a long time before becoming an art therapist.
I did my first art education year which is called foundation in UK and I felt that was a big happy opening. I continued my art study at Kingston University afterward. I was anxious, feeling I am starting late but I am happy now thinking I will be drawing till I’m a grandma.
2) So, you were born in the US, grew up in Korea, went college in the UK, and moved to US, and you live here in New York now. I’ve also heard that you speak a bit of Japanese and French as well? What a world citizen! Do you feel like your multi-cultural background affects your art, creative process and concepts? Does your background affect the religion series you have been working on?
It probably does. Growing up in Korea I think I was intrigued with African masks, 60′s objects, a Mexican candle holder that my mom brought when she moved back from US and whenever my dad traveled to a foreign country for his job he drew a small map and told me about the country and brought back small souvenirs. But I think I really became aware of people from different races, cultures, and religious backgrounds when I moved to UK. It was fascinating to see people with different eye colors, body shapes etc ! I realized the usual customs I knew and followed in Korea weren’t the only way or right necessarily. I think I constantly compare various cultures and see from them different angles whenever possible.
3) You live and work in Brooklyn, NY, and actually do a lot of work for Korean clients. This is very interesting. How did this come about and how is it working out for you?
Probably my work is more in demand in Korea at the moment. Sometimes it is my style or me being in New York. I did many location drawings in New York. Often they want a European look and I have to find the most European looking street in New York. (ha ha)
I would like to continue working with Korean clients but more broadly in the world. I also found some Korean illustrators who do not have proper contracts and rights when they are working at the moment in Korea, so I try to tell Korean illustrators about the Ethical Hand book. I think it would be great if I can help to translate it into Korean.
4) Can you explain to the readers your creative process and medium?
I usually draw with pen and ink, pencil, brush and colour with actual paint or digitally. I also use bits of printed paper and fabric to collage. I try to do something new each time I get a job however small a thing it is. That way it is more exciting for me — but it doesn’t always work well when I have a tight deadline! I like thinking of ideas walking around or going to my favorite cafes.
5) How did your papier-mache installation come about? Do you create them for jobs, or for showing at galleries, etc?
I think I am always drawn to a 3-dimensional sculptures or installations and have been trying different mediums. My friend in the UK was making papier-mache figures and I like the feeling of gluey newspaper strips, making wire structure inside, and how accessible it is with the light weight of it afterward. I have made them for installations at galleries or outdoors.
I am currently working on a picture-book which can be for kids and for adults. I am learning lithography at the moment, hoping I can experiment with other printing techniques I learned. I am working on images which would have a continuing theme of multi-cultures, animals and something new that I don’t know yet! I am interested in creating a huge papier-mache installation by a cliff in Azerbaijan. or in a city where people can interact within.
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