Aujourd’hui, jeudi 19 février, je vous propose de découvrir Kim Daehyun, Moonassi de son pseudo. Il est illustrateur, à Séoul où il vit. Cette interview est un peu spéciale, car je l’ai découvert lors d’une exposition au Palais de Séoul en novembre dernier. J’avais alors été très intriguée par ses dessins, j’ai donc publié des photos de l’exposition sur mon blog graphikakoréa. C’est ensuite Kim lui même qui m’a contactée, pour me demander de retirer certaines photos d’une de ses illustrations: elle devait en effet figurer en couverture du magazine 33th American Illustration, et il ne voulait pas qu’elle soit dévoilée avant qu’il ne sorte. J’ai finalement profité de cet échange pour lui demander si je pouvais l’interviewer. Et il a accepté. Je suis allée le rencontrer sur son lieu de travail en plein centre de Séoul, quelques jours plus tard. J’ai d’ailleurs bien failli ne pas trouver le lieu exact: son charmant atelier de moins de 10 mètres carré est niché en haut d’un petit bâtiment, au milieu d’un labyrinthe de ruelles aux noms très ressemblants. Cette rencontre fut l’occasion d’un échange très agréable, kim s’est laissé guider par mes questions, m’en retournant certaines. Un dialogue s’est construit, enrichissant l’interview. Par la suite, j’ai tenté de garder ce type d’échanges dans toutes les autres interview que j’ai effectuées en Corée du Sud. J’espère qu’à travers cette retranscription de notre conversation vous pourrez percevoir l’atmosphère de cette rencontre surprenante..
À très bientôt!
Cliquez sur « suite » pour lire l’interview !
Where did you do your studies?
In Hongik university, I studied oriental painting even if I think it’s not really actually oriental.. I mean for us oriental mean east Asia. So I studied about old east asian paintings, not middle east paintings. That mean we learned history and drawing, philosophy.
I ask you because a lot of korean people said me they studies on other countries…
Yes, a lot. After graduation they go to other countries, I think it’s better. Because we spend a lot of money to study here in Korea. It’s really expensive. And here there are too many students who studies for post-graduation.
What inspired you for your illustration work?
I use to say I’m inspired by everything. Everyday life. And mostly I think I am inspired by memories, memories of conversations that I heard or I had before.
I keep thinking about the past, about fillings and people that I met before…
I have a lot of feelings about past, regreets sometimes, I would like to talk with that person that I met before but I can not, like speaking with person who are already gone.
But now I don’t limit myself, I try to be inspired by anything around me because it’s hard to wait until I got inspiration only form memories, so sometimes I got inspiration from a book or just a sentence that I really like. Or music, movies etc.
Sometimes I’m inspired by just a simple shape like a circle or a triangle or just lines, of course many images from internet.
It’s not that concrete images, just kind of atmosphere it comes to me and I try to find what it is.
You use only black on your drawings. Why?
At the beginning it was a simple idea. I used only black ink during my studies because from thousand years ago, east asian painting only use black color, even if they did also color painting, especially in Japan.
But I also like this idea of using black because it’s special for east asian painting, and for me it’s like meditation or zen, it’s very limited but you can illustrate anything from this black ink.
Famous east asian painters used to say « it can have every color with black ink, if you are really into your subject you can do anything ». Maybe that’s why I was interested in.
When I draw, I only use small size of paper, like that is really simple to do it any time any where. Even when I’m in travel. Maybe I wanted to see that possibility, to see where I can go with this limited material. And I’m still into this experimentation.
Actually I see more possibilities then before, by working with only with black ink. I can give layers with just black color. With this lines… because I have also white, empty space, so it’s two colors.
When you talk about discussions you had, and conversations you heard, or people to who you would have like to say something, is that something to do with that black color? Or you use black color just like a tool, with no relationship with your subject?
No, I think there is no relations with my subject. Why are you asking that? You see some relationship? You think black means memories?
I don’t know how to explain… I also like black color, but I feel like difficult to use it because I‘m doing graphic design and I have to say something to people on posters or identities. It’s different from a drawing; black color have spooky meanings and people are a little bit afraid by black color. I feel that’s difficult to use just black to make a poster for exemple, even if I would love to.
Because black color can make your drawings too seriously?
For me no, but for people yes. And graphic designers do not make posters for themselves but for people, to deliver them a message.
Yes I agree with that, because sometimes people think that my drawings are creepy… too dark and lonely.They say me « why don’t you draw something more bright and happy? » I cannot say that I feel lonely or dark. And in my drawings there is also many bright or funny ideas.
I don’t mind how people understand because it’s their interpretation, I don’t want to remove that conversation between my drawings and the spectator.
It’s their feeling. I like this kind of misunderstanding.
There is a lot of people in your drawings. You represent people, and that’s why I was looking at your drawings in the exhibition in Palais de Seoul. Because there is a kind of relation betwin figurative and abstract in your drawings. There is people but with abstract representation. You say what you have to say in your drawings, with people but it’s a little bit abstract. That’s interesting for me.
At the beginning I only had people, just only two figures on the white space. No any other things in the background. Around me at the university my friends wanted to be artists, and they seems to do very serious art. I didn’t like this way. I wish that my drawings are really easy to understand. That’s way I use human figures. Like that maybe my mother or my cousins can even understand my drawings. But if I do something too much abstract they could be afraid of this kind of modern art.
But then I felt it was too easy to understand, I wanted something more abstract, to make people don’t understand really the meaning. That’s why maybe I made my drawings getting more abstract with the background.
You said me that you were doing a magazine cover, with one of your drawings. How did you worked for that?
American Illustrators 33th magazine. I didn’t know what was that magazine, but I was selected. It was an illustrators award, and one of my drawings was published in The New York Times, so they suggest me to do the cover. I don’t know why The New York Times ask me that, they just contact me, and gave me an article of news paper to work on it. Before that illustration for New York Times, I never thought about illustrations, actually I didn’t really know what illustration was. I was just doing my drawings… I don’t know really what’s the difference betwin illustrators, artists, designers…
So, I felt it was really confortable for me to work for The New York Times, that’s exactly what I was doing in my drawings: they gave me the title of the article « sentence of suffering », from which I extracted a key word and I started to draw. Before that I already extracted key words from memories, conversations etc, to draw about it. So it wasn’t hard to do, moreover they wanted me to keep my own style.
But maybe that’s why I cannot do more illustrations, because it’s only possible when the client want me to have my own style. I cannot do other styles, with colors for exemple. I tried once and client didn’t liked it (laugh), they said me « you should do what you are already doing ». That experience was really painful but I was happy to have to keep my style to draw.
For the 33th American Illustrators magazine, I didn’t know what to do. They gave me the theme and the format. I was really concerned about the theme, so I tried to work on it, but I just gave up to do some sketches like I was usually doing. At that moment I was working on something like mirrors, reflecting each others, and they thought that was good for the magazine cover. I don’t know how it’s gonna be on the magazine… I’m waiting to see it.
For my own work I’m interesting in daily life crowded of images, publicity, TV, videos, even on the subway. Do you think to make images with a lot of images around us make sens? How do you feel your work, as an illustrator? How do you create your own images with that conditions?
That’s a good question. I just simply ignore it. Especially in Korea, there is a lot of images on the street, competing with each other. Even on internet I see every days too much images, maybe that’s why I stopped to use Facebook and Instagram. Maybe I was sick of that.
I don’t think it’s too stressful to me, I thought about that 5 or 10 years ago, but now I just don’t care. I’m only concerned about that I can possibly make a copy of an existing image. I don’t want to make copy of other images. Once I experienced that, I made a sketch one night, and next day I was on Facebook and I saw the same image as my sketch. I was really choked. Maybe I saw this image before, or the artist developed this image on the same time a as me. That’s because of too many creators in the world (laugh). They share images every days, so I thought it can happen any time. So after that I tried to focus more on the idea then on the style of the drawing. Because style is just style. But if I make it more unique with ideas it cannot be same as other images. Before I didn’t though that my drawings were unique because there is a lot of other artist who use only black ink. This kind of Buddhist theme, anyone can use this, with human figures. But people start to say « your drawings are special ». But I don’t think it’s because of the style of the drawings, it’s because of my way of thinking.
You spoked about Buddhism, you have that kind of inspiration?
I have to say yes, but I didn’t want to say « it’s about buddhism », because if I say that, people will only see this way, and I don’t want to. Even if I was inspired by buddhism. I was really into buddhist drawings, from Chinese before, but I’m also inspired by western philosophy, and I try to compare two differents worlds. Actually it’s hard to say precisely what my drawings are…
How do you define your illustration work?
Three days per week I work in a graphic design company named Evasion Agency, made by french guys. Before it was my principal job. I do web design there, and also editorial and text design etc. Before being an illustrator I was already working for graphic design company, so I see myself more like a graphic designer than an artist, and I was not confident about being an artist. So maybe that’s why I can start with more simple idea. Now I try to be an artist on my full-time but it’s not easy. So I keep both, and I think illustration is something in between this two worlds. Artist and designers. Illustrators cannot do only their art, they should be flexible. Clients request that. For me, it’s not that hard to be both.
What do you think about actual korean illustrators? And do you think Seoul is a good place to be an illustrator?
I don’t know. Because I don’t do that much illustrations in Seoul. I mean, I only had one commissioned work from a client in Seoul. I just started last year to be an illustrator, so it’s really new for me.I heard many things, but it’s not my opinion, it’s other illustrators opinions, that I heard from exhibitions: they said it’s not easy to survive as an illustrator in Korea because they are too many young talented illustrators here. So even if someone have unique style or is doing really unique illustration, the client ask « can you do something like this? ». Most of the time, clients don’t care about unique images, they want something that they are sure it’s working with public, for money. But my clients are not from Seoul…
How did you found your clients?
They send me an email, but this is not really commissioned work. It’s association with young people who have full of ideas, who want to do something with me, but don’t have money. They are from US or Europe, South America… Before, I really enjoyed this kind of contacts even if they don’t have money, if I was interested in the project I just did it. I had a job so I didn’t care about money. But now, (laugh) I think maybe more like an illustrator. So… I need money (laugh).
Who is your favorite illustrator or designer?
There is someone, we worked together before, on the same company. He is Jaemin Lee. He was really good, I learned a lot with him, he gave me a lot of inspiration. He now have his own studio and he is doing great graph design job. He’s doing graphic design as an artist. I’m still really inspired from him.