In the words of Seo-Young Kwon, being a freelance illustrator is a “wonderful job where you get to create things that have not yet existed in the world.” The Seoul-based artist likes to depict the world as if it were a fantasy. Mermaids and ghosts reoccur throughout her personal work whereas her commissioned work invites the viewer into wonderfully atmospheric scenes. She is also the creator of the lovable dessert character Siru, a smiling blob whose sidekick is an equally sweet loaf of bread and together, they incite just the right amount of cuteness.
In another illustration for the biography of Korea’s first female film director Park Nam-Ok, Seo-Young depicts the filmmaker shooting on set with her baby tied to her back in the traditional Korean way. “I wanted to draw a picture of a woman making a movie in a harsh environment in 1955”, says the illustrator. Seo-Young’s drawing is vivid and immersive. Park’s expression is intense, she’s intently focused down the camera’s lens and Seo-Young’s cinematic drawing frames the scene through the lighting and sense of perspective. Through this scene, Seo-Young achieves her goal for the viewers to “easily imagine the world [she’s] created through an image. I want people to gain new inspiration”, and this is certainly the case in her illustration of Park Nam-Ok.
When Seo-Young has an initial idea for an illustration, she starts by sketching a variety of scenes. “I select the materials and objects that I want to be a major part of the drawing and start to arrange them”, she says. Once the illustrator feels like she “wants to draw”, she enters the drawing process, spending a lot of time sketching various compositions so all visual components are optimally expressed. For Seo-Young, the most pleasing part of the job is selecting the colours, she says, “it is always a fresh feeling to fill the space between lines with colours.”
Currently completing a series of illustrations for cosmetic packaging, Seo-Young is also preparing to collaborate with fashion brands, bringing her detailed drawing aesthetic to more commercial clients. Her style is editorially versatile, adaptable to two and three-dimensional visuals to suit clients accordingly. And though her work is adaptable in terms of depth and texture, Seo-Young asserts that when it comes to capturing great expression in her work, “it is so important to know what you like”, actively communicating “thoughts and ideas that might just float away.”
About the Author
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.