Having tried her hand at pretty much every aspect of creating a publication from start to finish, Jinhee Han, editor and graphic designer of Animal Press, has built up a varied repertoire of skills.
“I do everything related to making publications,” she tells It’s Nice That – and she really does. Having initially learned her trade in typography at Ecole Recherche Graphic (ERG) in Brussels, she decided that an extended education was not for her, and dropped out in order to begin working on publications straight away.
“I loved typography and I very much appreciate what I was taught during the first year in ERG,” she says. “My professor was a member of OSP, which means Open Source Publishing. She gave me lots of insight into the political paint view in graphic design and typography. Although I had good memories in ERG, I wanted to make a book rather than doing five years of school.”
As well as designing and editing, Jinhee provides illustrations for many of her publications too.
“Before I studied typography in Brussels, I taught myself graphic design and drawing for three to four years. That moment was important and influenced my working style a lot. The side effect of this experience is that I work very slow though. Still, I can enjoy making the details in an image,” she says.
One thing that is hard not to notice in her work is the usage of colour, which is very free and liberal – something she considers important. “I don’t have any issues using colours, it’s that simple. For those who are afraid of being judged by social status, they tend to be afraid of using or wearing colours because a bunch of vivid colours is like the middle class’ nightmare.”
Having such wide-ranging experience, Jinhee does not approach every project in a uniform way, instead, trying to tailor something more specific to suit each task, and in many cases focusing purely on aesthetics over practicalities. “My work depends on the projects. I choose a method that is more rational and solid. With this, I can convince myself and other people. Sometimes I try things just for visual quality. If this convinces me more, I prefer to make this choice rather than agonising and crying for a logical approach.”
Her varied practice has also informed her of when she should step back, particularly in her role as a designer. “As a book designer, I try to take up the least space possible. I don’t want to interrupt the rhythm of the featured artists.”
When asked about who she admires in her field, Jinhee doesn’t name specific people, instead citing those who work so hard to catch a break in the competitive world of publishing. “Exhibitors who I've encountered at art book fairs more than five times, I respect them. When I see their names on the exhibitors’ list, I feel a kind of relief.”
She is also adamant about not becoming a fan of anyone, ensuring that her views on a person remain separate from views on what they do. “It’s the easiest way to lose your sense and critical mind. I admire works from some artists or graphic designers, but that’s all. I don’t want to be confused between a person and their work.”
It is clear that Jinhee is no stranger to hard work, and the lengths that her and her partner at Animal Press, Baptiste Virot, went to when creating some of their publications are examples of this dedication. This included becoming entirely independent during the printing process, which with the aid of crowdfunding they managed: “We spent two months or more in Seoul to print Delirium and Bad Karma Comix. We ate takeaway food two times a day, trapped in the smallest Riso atelier in the whole universe, printing seven to eight hours per day.”
It is only now after this long slog that she is able to truly enjoy the work she put so much time into, and reflect on what she did: ”Last week I finally read Delirium as a normal reader, taking my time to enjoy it,” she says.“I really love that book, it was a great achievement.”
About the Author
Charlie joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in December 2019. He has previously worked at Monocle 24, and The Times following an MA in International Journalism at City University. If you have any ideas for stories and work to be featured then get in touch.