Da Ni Soon: A Korean Illustrator and Filmmaker

Interviewed and Translated by Ji-In Kim, Edited by Richard Sanchez

“I want to express the feeling of being on the boundary between reality and fantasy through my illustrations.” -Da Ni Soon

Photo_Dani Soon

Tell us about yourself.

Hello, I am Da Ni, Soon. I am 22 years old, and I will be 23 years old in a few weeks.

I have studied film and production design, but I prefer to draw pictures more than make films. Currently, I am working as an illustrator.

Last year, I directed a short film. Also, I help my friends to film their own works. I live in a small and quiet suburb of a city in South Korea.

Because I spent my childhood in a small town that had few attractions, the best entertainment I could enjoy was reading or drawing, I think I got accustomed to drawing. Of course, even now, I am happy when I draw pictures.

Black leopard

Tell us about your artwork.

I want to express the feeling of being on the boundary between reality and fantasy through my illustrations. I wish for people to freely interpret my work, rather than it being explained.

Where does most of your inspiration come from?

I am inspired by unfamiliar things and recombinations of fragments of memories in my daily life.

Flower Cigarette

Do you have a favorite artist?

I respect and like many artists from various fields.

I love pictures of Saeng-Kwang Park, who is a Korean artist.

I also really like the works of media artist group ‘Y0UNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES’, director Junho Bong, Lars Von Trier and Wong Karwai.

This is because I am part of a generation that is exposed to a lot of media.

Flower Cigarette02

Tell us about your working process.

I usually do the most of work by using computer and I draw sketches by hand to plan the entire atmosphere.
Do you have someone who inspires you?

I think that is my parents. I know this answer is boring but my parents are the source of my life and they love me a lot.

lotus and frogsLizard

Do you have your own Style? How would you describe it?

I think one of the characteristics of my works is ‘planarity’. I like the ‘planarity’ of Korean folk paintings, Egyptian mural paintings, and those of the Middle Ages. I have been inspired by them. Many people usually tell me that my works are oriental.
Do you have your favorite color?

I love to use all the colors. Also, I love to observe many colors.

Thumbelina series

What do you want to say through your work?

I prefer to visualize sentences, which are grammatically correct but somewhat illogical and give unfamiliar feelings. In addition, I sometimes express my feelings and issues on my works. So to speak, the purpose of my works is to visualize the unfamiliarity or the newness from a daily life, and I hope to express my feelings fully through my work.

love is blind

 

Tell us about the plans for the future

I want to draw all of my feelings and emotions.

I wanted commercial work when I just started to work. Now, however, I just would like to draw my feelings, even if these are not commercial.

Actually, I am in the last semester of my university, so I am concerned about working in the future. I am considering many options.


Original Interview in Korean:

순 다은

안녕하세요, 순 다은(Dani Soon)이라고 합니다. 올해 22살이고, 몇 주 뒤에는 23살이 됩니다.

대학교에서는 영화와 프로덕션 디자인을 공부했지만 영화를 만드는 것 보다는 그림 그리는 것을 더

좋아해서 일러스트레이터로 활동하고 있습니다.

물론 영화도 좋아하기 때문에 작년에는 단편 영화도 연출했고, 가끔 친구들이 단편 영화 찍는 것을

돕기도 합니다.

저는 한국의 작고 조용한 교외에서 살고 있습니다. 어렸을 때부터 시골에서 자라서인지 자연과

동물을 좋아합니다. 오락거리가 거의 없는 작은 마을에서 유년기를 보내서 그림을 그리거나 책을

읽는 것이 가장 큰 즐거움이었기 때문에 그림을 그리는 것이 자연스럽게 몸에 밴 것 같습니다.

아직까지도 작업을 할 때가 가장 즐겁고 행복합니다.

작품에 대해 설명해주세요.

현실과 환상의 경계에 있는 듯한 느낌을 일러스트를 통해 표현하고자 하고 있습니다.

제가 작품에 대해 스스로 설명하기보다는 보는 사람이 자유롭게 작품에 대해 느꼈으면 좋겠어요.

어디서 영감을 받나요?

일상에서 갑자기 느껴지는 생소함, 머릿속에 떠다니는 이미지의 파편들을 재 조합하는 것들이 작업에

영감을 주곤 합니다.

좋아하는 화가(작가)나 프로젝트가 있나요?

여러 가지 분야에서 존경하는 아티스트들이 많습니다.

한국화가이신 박 생광 화백의 그림을 좋아합니다.

미디어 아티스트 그룹 ‘장영혜 중공업’의 작품들 역시 굉장히 좋아하고,

영화감독 봉준호, 라스 폰 트리에, 왕가위 등 좋아하는 아티스트들은 손에 꼽기 어려울 정도로

많습니다.

아무래도 여러 가지 미디어에 많이 노출된 세대라 그런 것 같아요.

작품 과정(혹은 방법)에 대해 말해주실 수 있나요?

전체적인 느낌을 구상하기 위해 스케치 정도만 수작업으로 하고, 대부분의 작업은 컴퓨터를

이용합니다.

자신의 인생에 가장 큰 영향력을 끼치는 사람이 누군가요?

부모님이라고 생각해요. 약간 진부한 대답일 수 있지만, 제 생명의 근원이자 저를 굉장히 사랑해

주시는 분들이니까요.

작품에서 자신만의 특징이 있다면 무엇이라고 생각 하시나요?

입체적인 것을 그려도 평면성이 느껴지는 것이 제가 생각하는 제 작품의 특징이라고 생각합니다.

한국의 민화, 이집트 벽화, 서양의 중세회화 등에서 느껴지는 평면성을 무척 좋아하기 때문에

그것들에게서 영향을 많이 받았어요.

주변에서는 동양적인 느낌이 든다는 이야기를 많이 듣곤 합니다.

특히 좋아하는 색감이 있나요? 있다면 그 이유는 무엇인가요?

특별히 좋아하는 색감은 없지만 색을 쓰는 것 자체를 무척 좋아하고, 여러 가지 색들을 관찰하는

것들도 좋아합니다.

작품을 통해 사람들에게 알리고자 하는 메시지가 있나요?

글로 따지자면 문법적으로는 맞지만 논리적으로는 어딘가 비논리적이고, 따라서 생소한 느낌을 주는

문장들을 시각화 하는 것을 지향하곤 합니다.

그 위에 제가 가지고 있는 생각이나 어떤 이슈에 대한 느낌 등을 피력할 때도 있지만요.

말하자면 제가 일상에서 느끼는 낯섦이나 생소함을 시각화 하는 것이 목적인데 누군 가에게는 그

느낌이 잘 전달되었으면 좋겠습니다.

앞으로의 계획에 대해서 말씀해주세요.

제가 느끼는 감정과 이미지들을 모두 그리고 싶어요.

홀로 그림을 그리다가 인터넷에 업로드하고, 조금씩 일을 하기 시작했을 때는 상업적으로 일을 하고,

그림으로 생계를 유지하는 것이 목표였는데 지금은 딱히 그런 것들보다는 상업적이지 않더라도 제가

느끼는 이미지들을 표현하고 싶어요.

사실 올해 대학교의 마지막 학기를 다니고 있어서 앞으로의 작업에 대한 고민이 많아요.

방향에 대해서는 아직도 많이 고민하고 있고, 앞으로도 계속 생각하고 고민해야 되는 일인 것

같습니다.

Presented by the International Foundation for Women Artists.

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MARTA KOZERA: A Polish Illustrator Incorporating Inspiring Quotations in Her Drawings

Interviewed by Gabriella Alziari

“I’m a literature lover, so it’s natural for me to look for inspiration in the quotes of my favorite authors.”

-Marta Kozera

Marta Kozera is an illustrator based in Warsaw, Poland who graduated with a BA in Graphic Art. Her precise use of line and color offers her work both an organic and aesthetically pleasing tone. Forever the literature lover, Marta incorporates some of her favorite quotations in her illustrations. Excerpts from Albert Camus, John Steinbeck, Mark Twain, E.E. Cummings, Stephen Hawking and Charles Bukowski have made an appearance in her work, among others. She hopes that her viewers find humor and inspiration in her art. 

How did your journey as an artist begin?

My father is a sculptor and art conservator. My grandfather was a painter so being an artist was one of the possible ways for me to follow, but I can’t say that I always knew this was the way for me. Watching my father, I knew the reality of this way of life. Finally I decided, and now I have graduated in traditional graphic art techniques.

Tell us about your work.

I’m in a very interesting moment of my artistic way. After graduating, I started working for a big international company connected with the clothing industry as a graphic designer. After a few years, I gave birth and decided to be with my children for a while. This time gave me an opportunity to find my artistic way once again. My Marta Kozera Illustration profile on Facebook is the effect.

Do you have a favorite subject to illustrate?

I think women are an important part of my art due to the fact that I’m a woman. I was always fascinated by women in art.

Can you describe your working style?

This is hard to describe my own work. The way an artist should express himself is his own art, but I can say that I think that my inspiration is Art Neuve and pop art. Technically I use mixed media. The start is always a hand drawing and then I also use digital media.

Could you talk about the use of line in your artwork?

I think this is the consequence of my inspirations, but I didn’t choose the line. It chose me. Whenever I want to leave this way of working, it comes back…

Many of your illustrations include quotations from authors. Can you say more about this?

I’m a literature lover, so it’s natural for me to look for inspiration in the quotes of my favorite authors. When I was young I had a special notebook with quotes. The project of illustrations with literature quotes is very inspiring for me and I think it will last some more time.

How long does it normally take for you to complete a piece?

It is hard to say. It happens very rarely when I have time to do all of the graphics at once. I collect ideas in my head. At the right time, I realize the project, but most important is the conception, which comes when I do other things.

What does being an artist mean to you?

To develop myself all of the time.

Do you find it challenging to be a woman in your field? If so, how have you come out of this difficulty?

As we live in a patriarchal society, it is surely part of the reality that we have to fight for a place. The other fact is that there was no better time to live for women in all of human history than now. It is our duty to make use of the possibilities and our time for the lucky women living in countries where their place is starting to change.

Are you working on any projects currently?

I’m working on two projects now. One is Marta Kozera Illustration and the other is a Facebook profile “Sztuka raz dziennie. Codziennie.” (Art once a day. Every day) which is the place where I share the work of other artists that inspire me.

What advice would you give to aspiring women artists?

Work every day! Develop yourself! Don’t waste time!

Learn more about Marta Kozera hereCheck out her Behance and Instagram pages, too!

Presented by the International Foundation for Women Artists.

EVELIN KASIKOV: An Estonian Embroiderer Based in London

Interviewed by Gabriella Alziari 

“I admire designers whose work is intelligent, audacious, fearless, inimitable.”

-Evelin Kasikov

Evelin Kasikov is an Estonian-born designer and illustrator based in London, England. She received her MA in Communication Design in 2008 from Central Saint Martins, where she also developed CMYK embroidery. (CMYK refers to the four inks used in some color printing: cyan, magenta, yellow, and key-black) . Evelin’s work experiments with grid systems, typography, design techniques and digital and analogue processes to develop new styles of embroidery. Her designs are both mathematically accurate and created by hand. In the past, Evelin has created stitched illustrations for The New York Times, NIKE, WIRED, and ELLE Magazine, among others. Evelin also collaborates with publishers such as Bloomsbury and Laurence King to create book designs. 

Tell us about yourself and your work.

I was born and grew up in Tallinn, Estonia. I did my BA in Fine Art but looking back, I don’t think I was passionate about art back then. Instead I got a job in advertising and I worked as a designer and art director for a number of years. It was great fun but as the years passed I realised that design and advertising are not the same thing. I knew that if I ever wanted to become a good designer then there was a lot more to learn. In 2006, I quit my job and moved to London to study at Central St Martins, and in 2008 I graduated with an MA in Communication Design. During the first year of my MA I didn’t really know what I was doing; my work changed radically and change is not necessarily an easy and comfortable process. As I came from a commercial design background, having been sitting in front of a screen day in/day out, I wanted to explore more tactile, slower ways of designing. This is how I got excited about handmade design. I discovered that stitching/knitting/crocheting skills are easy to pick up and it was intriguing to marry craft techniques with graphic design processes. CMYK printing is a universal language for designers, but what happens when you add handcraft to technology? How does material affect perception? The idea of stitched print started from a simple idea: what if I could add a third dimension to a printed page, and make the inner structure of it visible and tactile?

Now that you have worked with CMYK embroidery for an extended period of time, how does it feel? Has your approach to the process changed at all?

It’s essentially about technology versus craft, and CMYK embroidery is just one idea in that context. It was born as part of my MA project in 2007, and the idea of graphic craft is still very much alive in my work. Although the technique has not changed, I try to push my work to new directions and find new contexts and mediums. A dream project would be to work on something large scale, like a fully stitched billboard poster.

CMYK Embroidery

CMYK Embroidery

Handprinted alphabet in CMYK embroidery

A piece from Evelin’s handprinted alphabet series in CMYK embroidery

Where is your inspiration from?

It’s hard to pin down where exactly inspiration comes from. Inspirations change constantly and they come from many sources. I admire designers whose work is intelligent, audacious, fearless, inimitable– Karel Martens, Irma Boom, Fanette Mellier, Sonya Dyakova, to name but a few. Also, I often travel between two cities, Tallinn (where I’m from) and London (where I now live and work). This two-hour flight is a great opportunity to think and reflect on ideas. It always makes me see things with fresh eyes.

What do you try to achieve when making a piece?

It depends on a project really. Design is not about pleasing the client or satisfying the designer’s ego, it’s about the subject at hand. In personal work I create countless studies letterforms—I experiment with different forms, shapes and materials. These are nearly always geometric, organised, grid based. They might seem like aimless sketches, but sooner or later, most of these ideas find their way to more substantial, conceptual projects.

Staples Letterforms

Staples Letterforms

Exuberance is Beauty

Exuberance is Beauty

Craft and Graphic Design Letterforms

Craft and Graphic Design Letterforms

If someone with no experience in CMYK embroidery were to try it, what advice would you give?

Above all, it requires patience and lots of it. It’s hugely time-consuming: crosses are stitched on paper layer by layer, with threads in Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black colours. Embroidery has to be precise, and also quite dense for an image to be visible. The smaller the crosses, the clearer the image.

Tell us about your experiences with bookmaking.

During my MA at St Martins I took a couple of short courses, and I loved it. These gave me essential skills and experience with different materials. I have been experimenting with book forms ever since. I like to take a simple, well-known technique, and see what I can do with it. For instance, my MA books have colourful stitched spines and students often ask what kind of binding it is. It’s actually just coptic binding but done in a slightly different way. French-folded sheets all have colourful stitched spine-edges. These thread colours correspond with the ones used on pages– this way, the content becomes visible on the spine too. The actual binding structure is not immediately obvious, because instead of heavy cords, I used very thin neutral-coloured threads.

MA Books

MA Books

Books

MA Books

You have collaborated with a number of companies and publishers. What has one of your favorite collaborations been and why?

Illustrators are hired for their style and I’m okay with that. But it’s super nice if the client trusts you enough to go beyond style. For instance, when WIRED approached me for HOME illustration, they said straight away that they want me to be able to benefit from this too and encouraged me to try whatever ideas I wanted to. As a result, this illustration turned out very differently from the rest of my work. It was also the first commercial piece where I didn’t use CMYK-stitching and it was a liberating experience for me. Recently, I created a series of fashion illustrations for ELLE Magazine that didn’t use grid at all. It’s not natural for me to work that way, but I was quite pleased with the outcome.

WIRED US Home Magazine

Hand embroidered typographic illustration for WIRED US Home Magazine

Yves Saint Laurent for ELLE Magazine

Yves Saint Laurent for ELLE Magazine

Louis Vuitton for ELLE Magazine

Louis Vuitton for ELLE Magazine

Can you talk about the importance of mathematics in your artwork?

My analytical approach to craft grew out of my personal interests and preferences. I am fascinated with sequences, multiplications, permutations. It’s all very obsessive but so is embroidery. I always look for system and structure in design and start with a grid. I can’t imagine working in any other way. Over the past couple of years, I’ve been working on a handmade book of stitched CMYK-swatches. It will have over 500 colour combinations that are created using 4 colours and screens in 30% increments. It’s more like mathematical exercise rather than a crafty one. You can see the process on my blog.

How do you find being a woman in your field? How have you risen above previous challenges, if there have been any?

I don’t think I have experienced any gender-related challenges in the workplace. Before moving to London, I worked at advertising agencies in Tallinn, Estonia and both of the companies I worked for were run by women. But now, working with embroidery has been challenging in many ways. My work belongs to the graphic design/typography area but it’s not always perceived that way. It sometimes makes me sad, but it is definitely a challenge and it has forced me to think about the essence of my work. Embroidery is loaded with feminine associations, all of which I have chosen to ignore in my work. People often assume that I must like DIY (do it yourself) and everything crafty but I don’t. My approach to embroidery is somewhat non-traditional. I think I can work with this medium only because I’m not emotionally attached to it. In my work, typography comes first and craft comes second.

Letterforms on Moleskine

Letterforms on Moleskine

What advice would you give to aspiring women artists?    

When you are just starting out you are often told to grab every opportunity. I feel this is wrong. The creative industry can be exploitative. Yes, it’s important to gain experience, but it’s also important to keep in mind that your time and ideas are valuable.

Are you working on any projects currently? 

My practise is two-fold, I create stitched illustrations and I’m also a book designer. Currently there are a couple of book projects in the works for Laurence King Publishing.

Learn more about Evelin Kasikov hereCheck out her FacebookTwitter and blog, too!

Presented by the International Foundation for Women Artists.

MARIA LOUCEIRO: A Portuguese Photographer and Illustrator Documenting Concerts Worldwide

Interviewed by Gabriella Alziari

“I love collage, creating new worlds through mixing different existing ones.”

-Maria Louceiro

Maria Louceiro is a photographer and illustrator who was born in Portugal. She studied Mining and Geo-Environmental Engineering during school, yet found herself more intrigued by viewing the mines as an art form. This eventually led her to use her photography and drawing skills to inspire new works. These days, she enjoys a variety of projects, such as photographing musicians and illustrating books. Her unique perspective is captured in every one of her pieces through her experimentation, use of light, willingness to challenge herself, and ability to capture expression and feeling. She has just completed her degree in Communication Design at ESAD (Escola Superior de Artes e Design). 

Where did your journey with art begin?

Since always, I think.

Tell us about your work.

I can’t tell you! You have to find out for yourself.

Charles Bradley

Charles Bradley

What is your favorite medium to work with? Why?

Photography and illustration. I love collage, creating new worlds through mixing different existing ones.

How did you initially become involved in music portraiture?

I thought to myself one day that I really wouldn’t like to photograph concerts; it would make me nervous and it seemed a bit boring. So I tried it.

Pixies

Pixies

Can you talk about the tone that you convey in your photographs?

I’m just trying to show what I see and how I see it. My point of view.

Many of your photographs have double exposures. How did this come about?

This was actually originated in illustration. I first tried it while making illustrations, and I wasn’t satisfied so I tried it with a different medium.

What has been one of your most exciting projects? Why?

Not actually a project, but I think shooting musicians is really exciting– talking with them and finding out more about their opinions and views of the world. Most of them are truly unique individuals.

How has art influenced your life?

They influence each other I guess.

Trentemøller

Trentemøller

Is it challenging to be a woman in your field? If so, how have you risen above previous challenges?

Even with the right attitude it can be challenging from time to time, but I can’t complain. I’m having some great people helping me lately, and people I really admire and look up to! So I guess I just overcame the challenges by continuing to do what I want and trying to ignore all the background noise.

Pixies

Pixies

Have you grown as an artist over the course of your career?

Yes, definitely. That’s the point of all of this. Growth leads you to new and exciting worlds.

Are you working on anything currently?

I’m working on some exhibits with my images and illustrating a book which hopefully will come out soon.

Learn more about Maria Louceiro here and here. Check out her Facebook and Twitter pages, too!

You can purchase her prints and limited edition works here

Presented by the International Foundation for Women Artists.

JOHANNA BURAI: A Swedish Graphic Designer and Illustrator

Interviewed by Gabriella Alziari

“Each work has its own message. Sometimes the message is not as clear, but since I almost always start from myself or a subject, there are things I say through each work.”

-Johanna Burai

Johanna Burai is a graphic designer and illustrator based in Sweden. She is pursuing her Bachelors degree in Visual Communication at Beckmans College of Design in Stockholm.

How long have you been making art? Where or how did you begin?

I have always enjoyed drawing ever since I was little. It became more than an interest when I started the arts programme at my high school. It was then I decided that I wanted to work as an illustrator.

Two years after I graduated high school, I moved to Stockholm to continue to study art, but lost my interest completely. I just wasn’t inspired. I had a break of 5 years when I didn’t draw or paint anything at all. During that time, I studied everything from religious studies to tv-production. I wanted to find something that I could educate myself in. But the things I studied never felt right. Then in the summer of 2011, things changed. I was really unhappy with my work situation and decided to quit my job as a clothing vendor and look for other jobs. So I started to paint just to get money to pay the bills. That’s when I made the bird paintings; the Toucan painting was the first one I sold. Since that day, I’ve been focusing on the art and soon I will graduate from my BA studies in Visual Communication at Beckmans College of Design.

"Toucans" Acrylic painting on canvas

“Toucans”
Acrylic painting on canvas

Tell us about your artwork.

I work with everything from graphic design and painting to pottery. The variation is important for me. If I have been working for a long time in front of the computer, I need to take a break and work more physically with my hands. Right now I have summer holiday, and the plan is to hang in my studio and try to paint as much as possible. Graphic design and typography is one of my biggest interests right now.

Are there specific themes or inspirations that your art tends to focus on or draw attention to?

I think a lot about white normativity and the political climate with the fascist winds blowing across Europe, so the stuff I’m working on right now circulates around it. For a while, I painted only animals so that was really high and low in my work. And sometimes my work is only based on my intuition.

"Anti-racism" A typographic study of demonstration signs throughout history

“Anti-racism”
A typographic study of demonstration signs throughout history

"Run" A colorful illustration

“Run”
A colorful illustration

Some of your pieces are colorful and vibrant, while others use only grayscale tones. Can you talk about your use of color, or lack thereof?

I love color! Artwork can really be lifted by an intriguing color combination. Sometimes I determine what colors to use before I decide what the artwork should be, so that the content can be controlled by the color. For a while I used pink on everything, so right now I am working on using as little color as possible, just because it’s very difficult for me to do.

Where do you gain your inspiration?

I get inspired by everything. Really, everything. It may be different materials, colors, people, music, conversations, architecture, children’s books, art exhibitions. I love to look at books and magazines from the 70’s, 80’s or 90’s; advertisements from that time can be very inspiring because they are so ugly cute-looking. I love ugly cute-looking things.

"Happy Nation" A fanzine that celebrates the 90's (Inspired by books and magazines from the 70's, 80's and 90's)

“Happy Nation”
A fanzine that celebrates the 90’s (inspired by books and magazines from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s)

"Do one thing everyday that scares you" A colorful illustration

“Do one thing everyday that scares you”
A colorful illustration

Is there a specific message you wish to convey through your work?

No nothing specific, it is very diverse. Each work has its own message. Sometimes the message is not as clear, but since I almost always start from myself or a subject, there are things I say through each work.

What are some of the benefits or challenges about being an artist in college?

That you can do whatever you want! There are no limitations, you are free to experiment.

Later on when you start to work for real that freedom gets smaller. Therefore, I try to prioritize the subjects I find more fun, and put more effort into the things that I really enjoy. It’s very fast-paced at my school, and if I were high performing in every task, I would get burned out.

"Ocean Dreams"  Poster made only through intuition and lack of color

“Ocean Dreams”
Poster made only through intuition and lack of color

Is it difficult to be a woman in your field? If so, can you explain how you might have overcome certain difficulties?

Not more difficult than being a woman in this society. For example, a while ago I was afraid that my portfolio would look too cute because I used a lot of pink in everything I did. In turn, it depends whether cute things have a lower status because they are associated with the feminine. You are always a part of a larger context. Therefore, it’s important to question everything you and others do and try to break norms.

What has been the most rewarding experience of being an artist?

When I was admitted to the Visual Communication program at Beckmans College of Design and when I got my first scholarship.

"Everybody's free to wear sunscreen" A colorful illustration

“Everybody’s free to wear sunscreen”
A colorful illustration

Do you have future plans or projects coming up?

I will work for a week in a pottery workshop, I will also hang in my studio and hopefully have a little summer vacation. Then I have my degree in the spring, with the thesis and all that it entails.

How does being an artist affect your life overall?

I’m bad at math but beyond that it is only positive! :)

Learn more about Johanna Burai here.

Presented by the International Foundation for Women Artists.