Hyunmin Kim tells stories through the merging of digital and analogue architectural landscapes
The Seoul-based illustrator starts with a story or emotion, then experimentally crafts a story imbued with deeper meaning.
- Jyni Ong
- 25 February 2021
- Reading Time
- 3 minute read
The illustrator Hyunmin Kim digitally illustrates landscapes not like anything we’ve seen before. Currently based in Seoul, the illustrator has spent much of his life moving around different cities in Asia and America. In turn, he records surrounding cityscapes through a distinctly futuristic style and merges the images with stories, thoughts and emotions that also took place at the scene. Observing the various architecture and terrain wherever he goes, Hyunmin is drawn to depicting scenes which are familiar on the surface but gave him strange feelings at the time.
Stripping back buildings to their bare structures, then rendering the exteriors in a metallic durable coating to evoke a sense of the surreal, Hyunmin’s work is fresh in its original take combining storytelling with architecture. He doesn’t always work digitally, often using hand rendered techniques to jot down ideas or using a Xerox machine to add extra layers of sultriness. At the beginning of the process however, he tells us, “I start by writing stories about emotions and moods.” Here, he imagines a place which acts like a stage for the story to continue, then adds in objects, shapes or places to add depth to the scene.
“The work balances two different elements,” says Hyunmin, “unintentional results from analogue style drawings and intended pieces of digital editing.” Along the way, he addresses a number of technical questions, creating a sense of light, perspective and visual rhythm that coincides with the style. Experimentation is key to the illustrator’s process, and his hugely varied output is testament to this freedom of thought. Envisioning his work in a sculptural dimension as well as a flat digital sense, Hyunmin’s portfolio is a rich delve into how one style can be explored in a multitude of different ways.
GalleryCopyright © Hyunmin Kim, 2021
He tells us about a recent project, a comic called The Pendulum. An autiobiographical story, the comic details the journey of a man who embarks on a journey from New York to Korea to visit a family member’s funeral. “I wanted to tell a story how the time passed around me, and how the places changed for at the time,” says the illustrator. At the time of the journey, Hyunmin kept a diary and notes from the journey. The architectural compositions reflect the protagonist’s mood and observations at the time, and through subtle details, the illustrator reveals changes in the light which resultantly effect the landscape. “I tried to deliver a view from the main character’s perspective,” he adds on the matter.
In other work, Hyunmin will be exhibiting a recent project The Moth at a group exhibition titled Deadly Blow by The Flexibility Club. It comprises two stories, the first a narrative focusing on an endless loop while the second details a story where the end is short and abrupt. For this work, Hyunmin wanted to find a way for images to look like a digital drawing while actually being made out of collaged pieces of paper. Using the scanner and playing with various depths of fields to achieve this effect, the technique bears a significant relevance to the story at hand. “The paper-like texture feels light in weight,” says Hyunmin, “but in the story, there is a mountain in the night, which alternatively makes it feel heavy.”
Continuing to pursue new stories through illustration, Hyunmin also has plans to expand into new mediums in the future. Web design and motion design feel like exciting new ways for him to tell stories, and he’s also working in 3D design to test the physical texture of digital images too. Collaborating more with others is also on the cards, but all in all, he wants to continue working in a way which engages his creative mind and not lose motivation in turn.
GalleryCopyright © Hyunmin Kim, 2021
Hyunmin Kim: The Moth (Copyright © Hyunmin Kim, 2021)
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.