Abang’s illustrations of 15 women aim to reveal her true self

The Seoul-based illustrator talks us through her latest book Ladies, consisting of 15 illustrated portraits of expressive women.

9 December 2019

“Each illustration embodies my desire and determination to be myself,” says the Seoul-based illustrator Abang on her new book Ladies. In the new work, Abang fluidly depicts 15 pencil-drawn illustrations to capture “a beauty truest to [her]self”. The book is a compilation of highlights from a wider body of work of women, each intricately crafted to evoke a certain expression. Taking on the style of fashion editorial illustration, she draws in the viewer with an intense gaze of each character, poignantly uncovering a small glimpse of herself with each illustration.

“I’m greatly inspired by the eyes of the model,” she says on this illustrative focus. In the past, whenever she’s seen fashion editorial illustrations, Abang has been drawn in by the strength of the story in the static image. Preferring “pictures with strange points rather than pretty or well-organised images”, a predominant aspect of Abang’s creative process is finding the right balance between imagination and reality in her painterly illustrations.

Usually commissioned by brands, publications and exhibitions, Abang also works as an art director alongside a variety of personal projects. Through drawing, sculpture, collage, and even elements of spatial design, she is slowly expanding into a range of multi-disciplinary mediums, carrying a consistent tone throughout each art form that feels unique to her.


Abang: Ladies

Having drawn since she was young like most illustrators, Abang recalls how she used to make up stories, then tell them through drawing. “It naturally became a job,” she says of her chosen career path. And after working as a designer for a large company in the Korean capital, she later decided to do what she loves best and make illustration a full-time career. With a strong will to pursue the thing she cares about, Ladies is an ode to doing what you love. “I wish everyone could think of ‘a beauty truest to themselves’,” she says on the concept of her latest work and overall creative ethos.

“I hope you don’t miss out on what you love, your tastes or your charms,” she says to the viewer through the elegant documentation of 15 characters. “And I hope you create a world that can’t be compared to anyone and can’t be determined by numbers.” Full of creative rebellion when she created the series, the illustrator’s work often gives off a tonally warm feeling upon viewing. Contrastingly, however, Abang reveals how she often felt “very cold” when making the series. Looking to the future, she hopes she can align the perceived feeling of warmth with a warmth in making the work, as ultimately, she wants the work to “reflect [her] truest self”, even though it isn’t perfect.

GalleryAbang: Ladies

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About the Author

Jyni Ong

Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor.

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