A repetition of marks mixed with a sense of uncertainty, dive into the experimental works of Hyunjung Huh
Immerse yourself in the mesmerising work of Korean illustrator Hyunjung Huh where broken memories meet digital glitches.
- Jyni Ong
- 9 November 2020
- Reading Time
- 3 minute read
A myriad of creative disciplines collide in the subtle works of the Seoul-based illustrator Hyunjung Huh. Through beautiful digital drawings – which often feel more like prints than pixel-based illustrations – Hyunjung works across the boundaries of visual art, overlapping illustration, installation, graphic design, web design and animation. In the commercial realms, her work can be seen in editorials for the likes of The New Yorker while in a more fine art context, she plasters her ethereal style across exhibition spaces and window displays.
“I’m interested in setting the smallest unit in shape and transforming it,” she tells us of her unique aesthetic. The illustrator aims to turn scenes of reality into something “that looks like it’s not real at all.” It’s a methodology she’s been exploring for a while, namely through her undertaking as a freelance graphic artist which she’s been working as since graduating from university. The first step in her process usually involves setting up the chosen environment in a digital format. Like most artworks, the space, atmosphere, scenery and objects in the image form the fundamentals of the illustration, but interestingly, with Hyunjung’s work, she actively experiments with the conditions that make up the digital format. And, in turn, her artworks take on an unearthly glow harking to the natural elements and the digital at the same time.
Before delving into the composition of her works, Hyunjung sets herself a series of limitations to define how much experimentation is possible within the realms of construction. This allows her to play limitlessly within the confines of a set description. For example, she sets out her digital toolkit at the start of each illustration: brush tools, colour values, ways of deforming or copying and pasting that culminate in the idiosyncratic allure of her works.
“I like the efficiency and expandability of digital drawing,” she adds on the ease of this methodology. The ability to modify the image at any point or time is also a plus, not to mention the fact that digital works can comfortably be converted into different mediums. In Hyunjung’s case, a single illustrator can become a book or an animation. As she puts it, “it is a great advantage that there are no physical limitations and I can set the rules I want and proceed with the work the way I want to.”
On a surface level, the illustrator’s work can be comprised into the repetition of dots and lines which converge to communicate a certain landscape. With a hint of reality disrupted by the uniformity of digital code, Hyunjung describes her work “kinda like old broken memories or video game scenes when an error occurs.” Interested in the ambiguous, the Korean illustrator’s work evokes this sense of uncertainty, heightened by a process of constant change and the breaking of forms which imbues her practice. In this way, she’s drawn to the visualisation of materials which cannot be observed by the human eye. For instance light, sound or radio waves which are often suggested through Hyunjung’s enigmatic use of digital drawing tools.
There are many projects we could cite to demonstrate Hyunjung’s unique approach, each one strikingly unique in its own way. The Ride, for example, showcases her book design and animation abilities. A project dedicated to the fascinating Han River in Seoul, and its night views, it explores the creative’s love/hate relationship with Seoul, the place she’s called home her whole life, reflecting on what she admires. The project began with 20 digital drawings which were originally intended to culminate in an art book. While editing the images however, she decided she wanted to make more from the images. “I wanted the images to move as if I was passing through the river myself,” she explains on how the images gave rise to animation. Made in collaboration with sound artist Joyul, the short captures the atmosphere of the river and so far, has screened at film festivals around the world.
As for the future, Hyunjung is looking to widen her range of visualisations, more namely through graphic design and web design. She hopes to learn new technologies like interactive games and 3D design, while collaborating with other young female creatives like herself. With a bountiful range of projects already under her belt, the future is certainly bright for Hyunjung and the creative choices laid out before her.
Hyunjung Huh: Endless Party That We Lost Together (Copyright © Hyunjung Huh, 2020)
About the Author
Jyni became a staff writer in March 2019 having previously joined the team as an editorial assistant in August 2018. She graduated from The Glasgow School of Art with a degree in Communication Design in 2017 and her previous roles include Glasgow Women’s Library designer in residence and The Glasgow School of Art’s Graduate Illustrator.