Relax and unwind in the hazy land of Korean illustrator Jeong Suji
Observing her work is like stumbling into a dream. At first you’re wandering through the leafy greens, then you’re on a blissful train journey before resting after a long trek in the hills.
- Ayla Angelos
- 8 January 2020
- Reading Time
- 3 minute read
Observing the work of Jeong Suji is like stumbling into a hazy dream. At first, you’re wandering through leafy greens, the kind where you’ll find an elderly lady spending the afternoon feeding the ducks. Then you’re on a train, sat peacefully as it chugs through a blissful sepia backdrop, before entering another scene and resting after a long trek in the hills. Whichever path you take, though, one thing’s for sure – Suji is highly capable of turning the everyday backdrop into something of a marvel.
It all began during elementary school, where the Seoul-based illustrator always dreamt of becoming an artist. She ended up majoring in Korean traditional fine art and textile design during college, before graduating and pursuing a career as an art teacher in high school. “However, I kept wanting to talk about my own story or my thoughts, so I quit the job,” Suji tells It’s Nice That. A rash but beneficial decision, as she has now spent the past three years primarily as an illustrator and painter, working across the board on various commissions for magazines, books and advertising.
Artistic influences can often be far-reaching, dating back decades, stretching across genres, disciplines and even pulling from the intangible. For Suji, it’s quite the contrary. “I have no specific artist, time or experience that influences my paintings,” she explains, instead referring to everyday occurrences as her muse. “I normally get influenced by my daily life; a park in front of my house, travel, books and even music or movies.”
Once these creative elements are rounded up and composited, Suji begins taking notes and pictures – “a lot,” she says. “To be honest, I do this all day because they can be big sources. I normally sketch several subjects at the same time and pick one based on my mood.” After which she chooses the materials and begins to sketch, utilising the most suitable of colours, compositions and tools depending on the direction she would like to take. “My favourites are watercolours and coloured pencils,” she adds, likely due to their transcending and vaporous outcome that fits well with her serene subject matter.
Alongside these common objects found in the everyday, Suji’s work has a slightly more personal meaning hidden beneath the flowery surface. “I love to reflect myself when I work on my images,” she says. “Drawing usual objects found in the everyday makes it easy to reflect my emotions.” And quite clearly, these emotions are steering towards a sense of calm – an emotion found within the subtle nuances of the colour palette, the tranquil postures of her subjects and less so identified through any garish motifs. “I really enjoy the audience’s comments and opinions, as well as their different perspectives. They could be what I expected or unexpected.”
And, although subtle, her characters are of most importance to the artist. “One of my themes is the people in the scenery,” she says. “The people are relaxing in the picture and what I try to show the audience is that it’s ok to take a rest for a moment. That’s why the people are relaxing and enjoying their time in my artworks.”
Suji’s future plans involve learning English in Virginia in order to work internationally, and she is preparing for her first solo exhibition this year. And even if the work-life balance remains a hard one to perfect for many, these illustrations are a fine example of how to spend a little downtime.
Jeong Suji: On the train