Since she can remember, illustrator Laon Kim has always loved animals. But, she’s never once had a pet. In her drawings Laon Kim likes to draw situations that are contrary to her existence, and so, her drawing of animals is a way to reflect the reality of not having pets. “I don’t have time to take care of them because I’m often working,” Laon explains, “instead, I realise the wish to be with them with my works.”
Creating pets within her imagination leaves Laon leeway to imagine them in spectacular and fantastical ways. The animals often tower above humans and find themselves in absurd, unlikely places; in one particularly surreal piece a large white bunny leaps underwater over a submarine, two people below staring up in wonderment. And sometimes, distinguishing attributes of the animals are repurposed entirely. In Weird Wedding a large dachshund stands nonchalantly as the wedding party uses its elongated back as a dining table.
Loving to put pen to paper in more ways than one, Laon’s often sources inspiration from the massive number of poems she writes. Between 2018 and 2019 Laon tells us that she had a particularly fruitful period, and she wrote close to 100 poems. Laon explains that she chose poetry because it was the easiest and most convenient way to record her many imaginings: “I only needed a cell phone, without any special ingredients or plans.” It was in 2020, after majoring in graphic design, and wanting to express herself in more ways than one, that Laon began to wonder how she could utilise her massive memo pad of drawings. It was here that she first began drawing. “I moved my first poetic pictures of the big dachshund table, bat chandelier and cotton candy airtrail to the screen, and I naturally started creating surreal drawings,” she tells It’s Nice That.
Laon’s experience with literature and visualising its words has come in handy with a number of her commissions. In 2021 Laon worked with the publication ARKO (Arts Council Korea), illustrating a number of their webzines featuring contemporary literature. “Because the metaphor contained in the poem or novel itself was interesting, I tried to visualise the text as it was,” Laon explains, “but, at the same time, I imagined and directed specific situations as if I were building stage sets.” In Heart Before Summer, Laon visualises a story about feelings of “lost love”. Taking the core message of the story and visually telling a story with it, Laon chose to depict a plane to represent “transporting between meeting and parting”, and the empty winter coat that sits next the the subject to “imply the memory of the past or a beloved one”.
While Laon loves commercial work for the charm of its “clarity and the fun that time limitations bring”, recently she’s found herself desiring something a bit more “free”. In the near future she’s looking to produce her own picture book, as inspired by one of the many tangents her brain has taken her on; specifically, a recent need to explore the subtle relationships between people, as compared to the Korean children’s game “drop-the-handkerchief”.
Laon Kim: Weird Wedding (WW) (Copyright © Laon Kim, 2021)
About the Author
Olivia (she/her) joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in November 2021 and soon became staff writer. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English literature and history, she’s particularly interested in photography, publications and type design.