Minet Kim’s illustrations explore the unconscious through symbols and colour

15 February 2019

Minet Kim’s illustrations are not just easy on the eye in their quirky sense of fun. As well as being brightly cheerful with a hint of the surreal, the Seoul-based illustrator’s practice is founded on emotion, as well as conceptual thought. She tells It’s Nice That: “There was nothing to do in my hometown when I was little.” From a small countryside village called Yeosu which is by the sea, Minet spent her childhood drawing, watching a lot of animation, and collecting seashells with her grandfather near his ship.

“One day, I was thinking that I wanted to have more experience in life and in my work” and so, the budding illustrator ventured to New York to study illustration. As well as being a great opportunity to “meet a variety of people and cultures”, Minet honed the craft of her original illustration practice. As well as refining her skill in terms of technical artistry, Minet also explores philosophical concepts.

In one artwork titled In the Gallery, Minet explores how “not all works of art have to be pleasing to the eye of the masses”. She adds, “we do not all have to understand it as well”. The illustrator references a quotation by the screenwriter and producer Charles Rosin: “I cannot criticise what I do not understand. If you want to call this art, you’ve got the benefit of all my doubts.” The illustration depicts objects floating around various planes of architectural galleries. Surreal objects hover on different planes and evoke ideas around deconstructing the understanding of art.

In another piece In the city, Minet expresses her feelings of loneliness. “I feel so lonely in the city at the time of night,” the illustrator says. “I live here, not just to exist, but to live” she asserts, drawing out those feelings that we all experience sometimes; feelings of uncertainty that make us feel like we don’t know what we’re doing. Through her poignant communication, Minet’s “most important goal is to create something that leaves an impression”.

Emotionally and visually, Minet’s illustrations represent her “world of consciousness”. “There are many fun things in the unconscious,” she adds. “It’s kind of hard to express the way I feel or think in words, but I can express myself through work.” Vivid, intense colours represent the illustrator’s vibrant imagination and she animates certain images to create another dimension of the fantastical. And because her work is so closely intertwined with her personal feelings, Minet finally comments, “I constantly try to improve my practice in order to further express myself.”


Minet Kim: Summer Boy


Minet Kim: In the City


Minet Kim: In the Gallery


Minet Kim:The Mask World


Minet Kim: Untitled


Minet Kim: Objects


Minet Kim: Chairs


Minet Kim: The Factory

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About the Author

Jyni Ong

Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor.

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