Illustrator Jee-ook Choi is no stranger to It’s Nice That. We have written about her carefully composed work time and time again, but the Korean artist continues to produce new drawings that impress us with their sharp, assertive linework and clean, powerful shapes.
Jee-ook originally studied fine arts at university but she soon rejected the formalism of classical design in favour of illustration. “I started drawing because I wanted my work to be more casual,” the artist tells It’s Nice That. Jee-ook’s trademark is simplicity. Lonely stargazing figures and delicate geometric swimming pools, Jee-ook is able to transform even the simplest contexts into sentimental moments.
One of Jee-ook’s latest series is Sprinting Balls, which is compiled of various quiet backdrops that are interrupted by bouncing balls. The series’ strength lies in the interaction between the space and the moving objects, which inject a compelling energy to the otherwise inanimate settings. “I wanted to incorporate contrasting time flows within each frame. I got the idea from a technique used in cartoons to represent a sense of speed while viewers imagine the escape of the ball,” the illustrator explains. Another set of compelling images are Jee-ook’s commissioned drawings for the luxury luggage company Rimowa. These careful compositions stay true to Jee-ook’s distinctive style, focusing on solitary, travelling female figures that conveying a rich palette of intense emotions: "I wanted to display various different women, each of which is experiencing her own personal response to travelling; like surprise, loss and ecstasy.”
An instinctive voyeur, Jee-ook spends her days observing and documenting the gestures of people she meets and the shapes and colours of places she sees. “Everything inspires me. I keep journals and write memos, which remind me of my day-to-day encounters. These writings are a crucial influence on my work. Found photographs are a key source of inspiration too,” Jee-ook tells It’s Nice That. Her images are not so much narratives as they are snapshots frozen in time that encourage the viewer to imagine what might have gone on before or what might follow. “I want my work to evoke poetry-like feelings through their dry styles. I think the gaps between the images reveal much more than teleological stories.” Like poetry, the images from Jee-ook’s series conjure up impressions through what is left untold; the mysterious travelling women, for example, allow us to imagine endless numbers of stories about who they are and where they are travelling to.