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Soomyeong

Work / Illustration

Illustrator Soomyeong elevates the pencil to a whole new level

Often seen as a rather rudimentary drawing tool, the pencil is primarily used as a means of sketching out initial drafts. But for the Seoul-based illustrator Soomyeong, who transforms the graphite-based material into something altogether magical, the pencil offers endless possibilities in its application.

“Most of the inspiration for my work comes from body movement and the sound of space,” she tells It’s Nice That. With a feather light touch, Soomyeong’s technical ability allows her to accurately recreate the subtlety of shadows, not to mention the reflectiveness of glass or metal. Beautifully detailed, the illustrator’s intricate compositions evoke an otherworldly allure that can’t help but draw the viewer closer in.

After working as an editorial designer for magazines and books for 18 years, all while developing her signature visual language at the same time, Soomyeong eventually decided to self-publish a visual essay back in 2016 titled re.hears.al. Solidifying her place as a truly original artist, since then Soomyeong has continued to publish books and deliver stunning results.

She sees her work as a culmination of several peoples’ voices expressed through nuanced pencil marks or like a “mass of noise that is made from a combination of different sounds.” And for the illustrator, the limitations of a monochrome colour palette help her focus solely on the shape and texture of a drawing. “The tone and texture of graphite is enough to draw sound and noise. Above all, pencils are generally quiet tools.”

Currently working on another “monochrome opera”, an extension of her 2016 publication re.hears.al, Soomyeong fundamentally captures the repetitions of life. “It’s a picture book following the story of a year-long beach show and people rush in and out like the repeated tide.” To be completed some time next year, this new publication promises to be an arresting visual representation of the diversity of sound.

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