Work / Illustration

Kim Hee Eun’s throwback 1970s-style illustrations

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Kimi and 12

When we came across the Instagram account of illustrator Kimi_and_12, a internet search ensued. Many DMs and a few emails later, we heard back from Kim Hee Eun. Kim lives and works in Namhae, a southern island in South Korea, where their studio Kimi and 12 is located.

“I’ve loved drawing since I was young, and naturally drawing became my job,” Kim tells It’s Nice That. “I didn’t study illustration as a major in college, I took classes in an art institute for a moment. I would say I am mostly self-taught and I am still learning.”

Kim’s illustrations have a distinctly retro appeal: a scroll through Kimi and 12 is like taking a dive headfirst into a slightly sureal ladybird book from the 1970s. “I like the mood that 70s and 80s movies have, especially the colours and the way they express things,” Kim says.“I got inspired by those movies and I think it would be great to express what I felt when I saw the movies or art works before the 1970s. I think I keep changing and finding, developing my style in various ways.”

“It’s helpful to look at other artists’ work and see movies for inspiration and motivation,” Kim continues. “And I have a chance to experience people’s life through movies and then I want to draw some impressive scenes from them in my way. Sometimes, I try to get refreshed having fun without thinking about ideas until I have new idea. It really works.”

Drawing on to thin carbon paper, or using acrylic paint to build up a nostalgic colour palette of tangerine, green, and lemon on thick paper or canvas, Kim claims their process is nothing out the ordinary. “I don’t really have particular skills or techniques. I start the usual way. When there is something that pops in my head, I just do some sketching and memo. And after that I think about how to use colours or what tools to choose and I start drawing. Sometimes, I just draw following my heart. I don’t really have a special process.”

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Kimi and 12

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Kimi and 12

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Kimi and 12

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Kimi and 12