In the art of illustration, it is no mean feat to create a style that is technically brilliant and simultaneously contemporary. Kyutae Lee, a Gyeonggi-based illustrator manages to do both, however, recreating beautiful scenes through light-handed drawings. Through his signature style of soft shading and gently blended tones, Kyutae’s pencil drawings transport the viewer into feathery soft atmospheres. Even when you look closely at his painterly depictions, you can barely detect a single pencil mark amidst the marble-like smoothness.
With an impressive turnover of work, Kyutae has illustrated numerous Korean book covers and editorial illustrations, all while maintaining a personal practice detailing the Korean landscape. It comes as no surprise that this illustrator has been practising for years: “I’ve always been drawing steadily,” he tells It’s Nice That. Interested in depicting “the scenery in front of [his] eyes”, Kyutae’s work stems from places he’s travelled to.
“I try to recreate the feeling of a place,” says Kyutae. “I take pictures of places I’ve been to in person and transfer the expression of the place onto paper.” As a viewer, we can emphatically agree that Kyutae’s illustrations are transportive. In particular, the way he draws the sun’s rays hitting snow-covered landscapes has a vivid realism to it. His overall use of shading creates multiple, detailed layers of depth, all the more impressive once you realise how tiny Kyutae’s illustrations are.
“I like to describe unimaginable phenomena through illustration,” adds the artist. Elevating picturesque scenes through delicate illustration, Kyutae hopes to inspire “a comfortable rest” for those viewing his work. His skill comes after years of practice mastering his technique. And when asked whether he’s ever experimented with alternative styles of drawing, he explains, “I’ve tried to make various attempts, but the context always ends up the same.” Nevertheless, his distinguished style has garnered several commercial commissions from the likes of Apple, Toyota and the LVMH magazine. Kyutae finally adds, “I want to continue drawing for a long time”, intending to further explore themes of travel and health in his much-anticipated work to come.
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