Subin Choi’s work is distinctly abstract. Apart from the occasional presence of typography, her work bears almost no resemblance to the graphic design tropes of the zeitgeist today. Rather, her work possesses all the poise of an Agnes Martin painting put through a process of digitalisation. Understated and refined, Subin’s unique creative touch is, in part, due to her background in fine art and an interest in the glitchy in-betweenness of the digital process.
She obtained an undergraduate degree in fine art, choosing the subject over design as she thought it would cover a wider range of subjects while offering more flexibility as a degree. “As I tend to get tired of something very easily,” the Seoul-based designer tells It’s Nice That. “I wanted to leave my possibilities open and my position open to change rather than choosing one certain career.” But upon graduating, she started working at a 3D animation studio and found herself drawn to the various graphic design jobs offered to her by friends. “I designed exhibition posters and catalogues for my friends, worked on small scale projects of branding design, and also participated in exhibitions as a visual artist,” she continues. In short, she found “graphic design covered all of these things,” and as a result, Subin swiftly enrolled in a master’s in the subject, which she’s turned into a fulltime career as a freelance designer.
Above all, what intrigues her most about the medium is its ambiguous boundaries which can flex and stretch between many disciplines. “It involves various media and relatively short term projects as it has to respond promptly to social circumstances that are constantly changing,” explains Subin. She views the rapid advancements in technology as a chance to explore exciting creative opportunities rather than a daunting aspect, commenting, “it never gets boring,” on the infinite possibilities.
As time goes by, and as exemplified by Subin so far in her career, the Korean designer believes that graphic design’s definition will become “less confined and less certain,” allowing space for designers to explore unchartered territory. She only has one downside to this otherwise opportunistic future industry, putting it bluntly, she tells us, “there are too many graphic designers.” Going on to talk us through two recent projects, Subin points out her exhibition poster for Jane as one of her favourite pieces of work in recent times for its “strong and clear” image.
Exhibited as part of Graphic Design Festival Scotland’s famed poster competition in 2019, the poster in aid of Eusung Lee’s solo show exemplifies the fundamental concepts of the artist’s work through a graphic language. In Eusung’s work, she likens the process of engraving something onto one’s memory to that of a wound healing from a body piercing. In a similar vein, Subin uses 3D graphics contrasted against various textures to evoke this message.
In another project, Avopoktoves Testament, Subin collaborated with two artists, Min Jung Song and Chorong An to create “a sort of trailer” as part of the exhibition Pro-Test. Revelling in the excitement of working in a new medium, the three collaborators based the work on a piece of Amazonian warriors mythology. Expressing their own unique version of modern female identity, the film weaves together Greek sentences with the words of Virginia Woolf, Donna Haraway and Wudy Weisman, which are visually accompanied by a collage of various weaponry from across the ages. The viewers are invited to see the work through translation apps, showing reconfigured sentences and, ultimately, altering the viewer’s experience through their independent electronic devices, not to mention the virtual and the real.
Weaving between painterly and realistic textures throughout her work, looking to the future, Subin will continue to seek out new visual experiences through exposing the gap between different textures or between different rendering options. Hoping to expand this further through 3D animation and movement, in time, she hopes to one day be the art director of a theme park, swimming pool or five-star hotel. Or maybe even the Olympics opening ceremony.
Subin Choi: Palm Beach in Wave Island
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. Feel free to drop Jyni a note if you have an exciting story for the site.