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Illustrator Spotlight with Zoey Kim

Process, style, color and influences: Get to know the talent behind the illustrations we love

Tell us a bit about yourself and how you found your way to a creative career.

I was born in Korea, raised in Indonesia from the age of four and lived there for 16 years. I loved Art as a kid. Loved studying and creating it. But applying to an art university seemed like a big burden to our family back then. By the time I was about to graduate with the degree of English Literature and Mass communications in Seoul, I had no path or idea what to do with my life. Near the end of my semester, a family member of mine introduced me to Samsung Art and Design Institute (SADI). My heart was full and rushing with excitement once I got into Communications Design. It was one of the best times to fulfill my life with creativity and to study with amazing colleagues of different backgrounds and ages. SADI has been my stepping stone to getting a job as an editorial designer for a children's book company and moving on to graphic design works at Médecins Sans Frontières Korea. It’s been 2 years since moving to Dubai with my husband and our cat. Currently I am fulfilling my dream as a freelance graphic designer and illustrator.

How did you find your medium and style, and who and what influenced you?

I feel most comfortable working digitally because I could easily go back and forth editing the artwork. I had a hard time trying to find the right style for me because I loved exploring various textures, colors, strokes, and so on. But it seemed like I didn’t have a drawing identity that could be called mine. So gradually I tried to stick to one style: blurred and fuzzy. I want my drawings to be taken in with warmth and love, and I think the fuzziness seems to go well with what I am pursuing.

I love Paul Cox’s design and illustrative works. His vibrant use of colors, shapes, and mediums have caught my eye ever since I visited his exhibition in Seoul. It felt like he enjoys creating his art, having fun with colors and the subjects that he drew. It truly inspired me to draw and wanted to share that bright, fun feeling to the audience as well.

What subjects are you most fascinated with?

My personal drawings are mostly random thoughts that float through my mind. But it seems to revolve a lot around the topic of cats, white sheet ghosts, houses, and nature. Things that make you feel warm and fuzzy. I love drawing things that seem to be familiar in our daily surroundings and sometimes linking random subjects to make it even more fun.

How do you create characters, what inspires them, how do you use color?

I love drawing my characters with very few details and giving them life with vivid colors. I personally don’t like complicated thinking and this kind of shows when I draw. I like to keep things simple, but be spontaneous with vivid color. I go through many trials and errors on colors until I find the right combination that I feel most happy with. I have a favorite color palette saved on procreate and I remember taking the color inspiration from various old children's books.

If you had to pick a favorite project, which one are you most proud of and why?

I would have to pick an exhibition that I participated in for the first time as a freelancer. The exhibition, “Posterdump” took place in Seoul, Korea where visitors would check the poster designs that inspired them and even buy them at the end of the exhibition. It was an amazing feeling to be part of an exhibition for the first time as an illustrator and to show others a printed version of my work. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to visit Korea at the time, but I was overwhelmed with joy and motivated from the messages I got from various audiences who visited the exhibition.

What’s next for you?

Keep creating!! I would like to explore creating imaginary characters more. Most of my drawings now are based on somewhat familiar beings and I would like to open up my creative mind to more interesting subjects in the future. I have several wishlists and one of them is to have my illustration as a book cover design. Fingers crossed!

Rapid Fire Round!

Weekend - lounge in bed / go out and party? Go out and lounge all day in bed the next day.

Coffee or tea? Ice coffee. Even on winter days.

Cats or dogs? Cats =^.^=

Favorite season? The end of Autumn where the air starts getting crisp. Cinema or Netflix? Netflix

Pool or beach? Both! I love swimming.

Computer or sketchbook? Computer

Text or voice note? Text. But trying to get used to voice note

City or countryside? City

Getting dressed: colorful or monochromatic? I guess it depends on my mood :D

Thank you Zoey!


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