JiYeun Kang Illustrator Interview

JiYeun Kang

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1. Can you recall the first time you realized you were going to be an Illustrator? What were your erarles impresionas?
I liked to draw since I was very young. I remember a friend with a 60-color crayon with gold and silver. That child drew stars very well and I was envious. Even in my school days, art class was my favorite. When I do my art homeworks all night, I wished the time like this be forever. However, it was long after I entered college, I made up my mind to become an illustrator. In a semester-long illustration class, I knew that this was the ‘it’ I had been looking for.

2. Who or what influenced your art when you were young?
When I was young, there were few picture books for children compared to the present. 
I had only a few picture books, but I still can’t forget 12 picture books about the world classic stories.
The pictures in the books were so fantastic that I used to look at them endlessly. The ‘Cookie House’ which attracted ‘Hansel and Gretel’ to come and ‘Cinderella’ who wore a gorgeous dress remain deeply in my heart.

3. Do you remember what your first artwork looked like? Do you still have it?
My first illustration was a watercolor painting of a ‘Forest Fairy’. The picture was painted in lots of layers of pale watercolors to create rich green and blue colors on a very thick watercolor paper. I can’t forget the serenity of the work. The illustration work was an important occasion in my life and it charges a side of my studio.

4. Why did you choose illustration as your life’s work instead of, for example, filmmaking, law, or even medicine?
I like the time concentrating on drawing as it is. The whole process of imagining the scene I want to draw, scraping the necessary material, and organizing one by one makes me concentrate entirely on the world in the picture. It enriches my daily life and those moments gave me an energy to overcome when I am in difficult circumstances. It makes me just concentrate on my life itself. That’s the reason why I love and choose illustration.

5. Did you study art in school?
I majored in visual communication design at Kookmin University in Korea. During my school days, I could experience various visual arts, and the experience at that time greatly influenced me to become an illustrator.

6. Where does your inspiration come from; your impulse to make art? Do you have a source for your ideas?
Most of my imagination comes from reading something. I feel the impulse to draw what comes to mind when I read a good article or literature and become absorbed in it. So, my pictures are often influenced by what I read and felt at the time.

7. How would you describe the process of creating art?
Reading well is important. The first thing I do is read enough and feel deeply. I don’t start sketching until I have an apparent image in my head. I look for the materials I need for the image at this stage. When the scene is clear enough in my mind, I draw it as quickly as possible with long lines. Fast and long lines are very useful for catching what comes to mind. And it is also useful in reflecting my habits to my drawings. I think the habit is an important factor of my illustration. This is because it has been shaped by conscious repetition for a long time. Sketching is the most important procedure. The subsequent lighting or coloring is the process of polishing and embellishing the things that I’ve captured with sketches. Which technique I use is determined by considering the circumstances in which I draw the illustration and the images I’ve captured through sketching.

8. Do you have a favourite artist? What is it about that artist’s work you like?
There are many artists I admire. Especially, ‘Kay Nielsen’ and ‘Tamara de Lempicka’ are my favorite.
I really like Kay Nielsen’s unique composition, color tone and the way he organizes the scene.
Especially, It holds my eyes long with colorful decorative elements that fill the screen.
I also really like the unique form, the light, and the atmosphere of Lempicka’s paintings. Her paintings and her life in them gives a lot of imagination throughout the whole time I look at them. Such imaginations come very attractive to me.

9. If you could do something else, other than creating art, what would it be?
I originally worked as a graphic designer for a children’s book publication company. If I had not become an illustrator, I think I would have worked as a graphic designer and tried to make better children’s books.

10. Do you remember your first set of paints, pens, or markers?
Of course. I can’t remember the name of the product, but I still remember the crayons I found in my childhood attic. It was very soft and vivid color crayons. So, I can still remember the time when I drew paintings with my heart beating.

11. Do you have a favourite artist supply, a favourite method, or favourite location, where you like to create artwork?
Currently, my desk, MacBook, iPad tablet, and Apple pencil are enough. However, I would like to have a sunny studio where I can do large-scale paintings someday.

12. If you could give a viewer clues to understanding your art, what would you say?
Just enjoy the picture as it is. That is enough, but if you want to feel more deeply, reading the text related to the picture and inferring what I wanted to express would be helpful.

14. Why does art matter to you? Why might it matter to the world?
I believe that art makes the world richer by healing people, realizing about themselves, and helping them overcome life’s difficulties.

15. If you could look back or forward 100 years, do you think the life of an artist was or will be better than today?
The more machines replace people’s work, the more important public art would be in order to look for human identity and make people’s life enrich. Therefore, life as an artist will become more precious.