Fhuiae Kim explores “the third language” in her calming graphic design works
The Seoul-based designer is interested in pursuing the third language through her delicate graphic design works. This is not a written form of language, nor a pictorial one, but somewhere in between.
- Jyni Ong
- 11 December 2019
- Reading Time
- 3 minute read
Fhuiae Kim combines graphic design with storytelling in her tranquil works. The Seoul-based graphic designer and illustrator is interested in conveying “the third language”, no matter what the commission. This third language is not a written form of language, nor a pictorial one, but somewhere in between: “It’s a new image symbol code that we can’t explain with our existing language or images,” Fhuiae tells us of this unique visual language system.
Defying dialect and continents, Fhuiae’s work makes use of abstract forms and compositions to speak universally to its viewers. Flat, 2D ovals wobble and float over delicate, Risograph-printed hues and each of her projects – from self-published zines to commissioned posters – possess a graceful artistry and carefully composed pages. Whatever the brief, she tries to find a suitable “third language” to fit the narrative of each project, striving towards the unexplored and a suggestion of the unknown.
Originally interested in pursuing film as a career, Fhuiae studied Communication Design at university with the intention to focus on moving image. Over time, however, she tells It’s Nice That, “graphic design attracted me by being able to do the storytelling on my own while handling images and text at the same time.” And since 2015, she has continued to experiment with the relationship between image and text through self-published works.
“My desire is to reinvent the way novels, illustration and graphic novels use storytelling,” she adds. Available at Printed Matter, across the board, Fhuiae’s work explores and challenges a rigid, geometric style, but always tells a story through the movement of shape. She cites Yōko Tawada’s books and Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s films as prominent influences for her work. Elsewhere, in terms of graphic design, it’s Hattori Kazunari, Mina Tabei and Paul Cox that continue to inspire her, and more recently, she was very impressed by the brutalist architecture depicted in the BBC’s The Little Drummer Girl, directed by Park Chan-Work.
Other than her beautifully crafted self-published works, Fhuiae also works on a number of commercial design projects. In a recent project for The National Museum of Korea, for example, Fhuiae was tasked with the character design and illustration for its latest exhibition The Story of Gaya Forge; an exhibition for children about society during the Iron Age. She created animated characters from blacksmiths’ hats of the time and adorned the sweet little character with two blinking, expressive eyes, then, collaborating with motion graphics designers Zemmix Studio, the studio animated the character’s jaunty movements to suit the trundling brown blobs. “I was excited that the work came out through a variety of media, from interactions and videos to printed matter,” the designer adds on the project.
In other work, she branded a music project bringing together four distinctly different music critics to experience four different genres. Creating a logo and identity for Heterophony, the primary idea behind the project was to visually interpret how critics write in the darkness during performances in a graphic system. Since recently finishing this project, and looking to the future, Fhuiae hopes to work on more branding projects and further develop her branding awareness. “I think the rule of viewing one project in a certain way then applying it to many outcomes suits me,” she goes on say. “And as I’ve been going abroad to participate in book fairs, I want to experience more unfamiliar languages while living abroad.”
About the Author
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. Feel free to drop Jyni a note if you have an exciting story for the site.