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Work / Graphic Design

Graphic designer Si Weon Kim’s side projects explore her culture, creating historical homages

“Like most people now in their 20s, I was raised by the internet. I was manipulating images as soon as I got my first computer,” says New York City-based graphic designer Si Weon Kim. Downloading Photoshop at a young age, Si Weon began making covers for her burned mix CDs at 11. She has now developed a subtle yet accomplished aesthetic, her early interactions with the internet still evident throughout her work, stating artists such as Sondra Perry as an inspiration.

“I like graphic design because it works with familiar symbols and through alteration, intensifies or minimises their contexts,” she tells It’s Nice That. “I think graphic designers have the ability to communicate intuitively because of this.” Originally from Seoul in South Korea, Si Weon moved the US at a young age and throughout her graphic design career has developed a client list including the American Museum of Natural History, New York University and Rockefeller University.

Si Weon’s projects are varied in their output including identities, publications, websites and typefaces. However, they are also varied in their content, often make reference to a plethora of subjects. “Graphic design is one of the most effective visual mediums for historical homages, in my opinion,” Si Weon explains. For her, this often manifests in her side projects which she uses to explore her heritage through East Asian cultural groups.

In a collaboration with a small group of friends, she developed the East Asian Female Film Directors Index, a handbook by which to organise Asian female directors. “There isn’t really an official documentation of this group,” she explains, “even though they are a very significant cultural force.” For example, at the 2017 Korean Film Critics Awards, Lee Kyoung-mi was awarded best director. Despite this, her film The Truth Beneath was largely overlooked by the majority of the major film festivals. The book features double pages spreads, each dedicated to a different director. On the left reads a short bio, and on the right are two stills from their work – one set smaller inside the other.

Although never actually realised, Si Weon’s proposed project Flushing Breakfast Club is another example of how the designer utilises the medium as a springboard to explore culture. “The idea was to gather in Queens Chinatown every month and eat various food,” she explains. The project got its name as “some food, such as dim sum, is only served before noon,” and because “people do not tend to eat food from other cultures for breakfast because breakfast is supposed to be convenient,” Si Weon adds. The Flushing Breakfast Club would, therefore, provide a place where a diverse group of people could gather, interact and experience something new.

Whether its for commercial projects or her side projects, Si Weon describes her visual language as having “a very delicate and dark tone to them.” With work that clearly encompasses a slick visuality, Si Weon’s designs particularly focus on subtle elements. She explains how “the symbols and typography I use are usually very deliberate and they can’t easily be replaced.”

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Si Weon Kim: East Asian Film Directors Index

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Si Weon Kim: East Asian Film Directors Index

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Si Weon Kim: East Asian Film Directors Index

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Si Weon Kim: Flushing Breakfast Club

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Si Weon Kim: Alte Pinakothek

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Si Weon Kim: Alte Pinakothek

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Si Weon Kim: HKE Album Jacket

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Si Weon Kim: Paravogue

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Si Weon Kim: Fantasy Landscape