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Work / Illustration

Illustrator Nano projects life into her paintings to counteract negative emotions

“I draw a lot of what I see in my mind. I usually express things that I can’t say or write. For example, weakness or negative emotions,” explains Seoul-based illustrator Nano. Having previously worked at a company designing game graphics, she’s now a freelance illustrator, filling her time by “projecting life and what I feel into paintings”.

Nano’s work is varied both in her choice of materials and the subjects she chooses to focus on. “I usually think about what I want to express first,” she tells It’s Nice That, “and I choose from the many painting styles I have after that.” Although in the past she worried about the variety of mediums she was using, it’s now central to her work with each project being defined by its materials as much as its concept.

A flick through Nano’s portfolio demonstrates this perfectly. With series skipping from images of girls in their bedrooms, couples strolling down the street or teenagers hanging out after dark, it was her recurring imagery of girls on skateboards that peaked our attention.

The series, titled Run, is energetic and charming, with each girl hailing from a different area of the world, skating through their environment whether it be the jungle or even outer space. Made in acrylic paint, the brush strokes are easily visible in each piece only adding to the vivacity of the images.

Despite being a seemingly light-hearted series, Nano explains how Run has its roots in a much more serious place. “The project is about moving forward. I described myself as a girl on a skateboard as if I were going forward, falling down, afraid,” she recalls of the time she first began illustrating such imagery. “It’s a series that I worked on to cheer myself up and ‘bring me back to life’. Through painting, I encourage myself to express my anxieties, to try again.” Each illustration is, therefore, a symbolic act for Nano, a boost of energy and happiness when she most needs it and, needless to say, it does the same for us.

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Nano: Run

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Nano: Run

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Nano: Run

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Nano: Run