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Work / Illustration

Jun Cen’s expressive illustrations capture fear, loneliness and frustration

“My goal is to create an expressive aesthetic with restraints,” says illustrator Jun Cen of his style. “I think I make my illustrations in a minimalistic way, trying not to make my work overdone.” By using a limited colour palette and playing with perspective, Jun often uses fine linework to create architectural spaces and fills them with characters dressed in costumes to bring his story telling to life.

Since we featured him last year, Jun’s style is now more detailed and there’s a real sense of depth to his works. His clean-cut illustrations lend themselves well to editorial commissions and he has worked with The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Yorker and Oxford University Press among many others. “When I’m working on an illustration, I always ask myself what kind of connection I have with the article and what kind of a unique voice I want to put in this piece, whenever I’m allowed to,” US-based Jun says. “As a creator, I’m never just satisfied with visually translating the idea of an article, I also love to explore what perspective and vision I can input in an editorial piece.”

As a result, his illustrations are visually rich and communicative and his cool colour choices aim in setting a particular atmosphere and mood. When asked what he hopes to convey, Jun says: “I think most of my illustrations are about human emotions. Fear, loneliness, frustration are constant themes in my work.” Books, music, and films are often sources of inspiration for the illustrator and he looks for the “softest and most vulnerable moments” in whatever he reads or watches.

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