Since we last wrote about Strasbourg-based illustrator Saehan Park, a lot has changed. For one, she’s switched from drawing with a French curve architect’s tool, to an oval tool. It gives her work a light, graphic aesthetic that is both precise and expressive. “The tool has pushed me to represent the world in a graphically simple way,” she tells It’s Nice That. Over time she’s learned to draw out “things from ordinary time” with her minimal illustrations, namely, she draws women in various colours because “I am a foreign woman myself” Saehan explains. Additionally, she also “likes to draw cute things”.
She starts off by drawing lots of circles with her architectural drawing tools, then adding rotring and marker pens for the finer details. Though her work possesses the imperfect ink bleeds of these analogue processes, this does not take anything away from the cleanliness of the images. Each illustration benefits from charming fuzzy lines and off-white, chalky paper scans.
Recently, Saehan completed a piece for the New York Times, commissioned by Tracy Ma. The commission, a “really interesting sequenced set of three images that would later be turned into a gif” told the story of a young woman enjoying her life without children or a man while those around her worried about her. Written by Glynnis MacNicol, the piece explores how no one could believe she was happy as a motherless single woman in her 40s. Tracy chose a version of illustrations where “the woman pushes the babbling people around her into the square borders of the page”. She creates a space to breathe for herself, resembled by a blank page filling up more of the composition as the people are “crushed and disappear”.
Having only graduated in 2017, a commission like this for the New York Times symbolises great promise. Since completing her studies, Saehan says on her improving practice: “I appreciate more and more the little details of everyday life and drawing, but it may just be me getting older.” When we last wrote about her, Saehan’s illustrations were less visually rhythmic, and did not possess the same lyricism evoked by the repeated circles and ovals seen throughout her recent work.
As for now, however, the illustrator has just recovered from an unfortunate bout of carpal tunnel syndrome in both hands, and is beginning to make new work. For now, Saehan’s fans will have to wait and see how this work develops, whether she’ll continue to work with circular shapes or perhaps move onto squares or rectangles, we hope she continues to deliver her signature hand-drawn style of delicate pen and pencil line mixed with soft colour.
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