For Korean illustrator Youngchae Lee, her role in the arts is similar to a film director’s: “even if it’s a simple illustration”, she tells It’s Nice That. “I make stories, set the scene and bring out characters that are either still-life or animal.” In turn, Youngchae’s work is cinematic. She depicts landscapes and scenes with a filmic quality, paying close attention to the bold compositions of each drawing.
In her recent publication Alone Time – Here and There, Youngchae illustrates what it feels like to have alone time in a large landscape. Published by Your-Mind, Here and There is the second book in the series, exploring the intentional and unintentional experiences of time on one’s own. She captures the liminal space between thoughts and destinations, illustrating moments such as “looking through the window at the sky” or the walk to get somewhere.
“I try to capture these moments in a still and active way at the same time”, adds the illustrator. On the surface, though it may appear like all is quiet, in fact, “there is a lot of movement that goes unnoticed.” Taking a neutral stance, Youngchae attempts to document both the quiet and the activity in a scene. She works predominantly from observation, walking around and taking in the sites. Looking closely at the actions of other people, the illustrator takes photos of compositions and behaviours that catch her eye, going on to collage these scenes together which she then illustrates with a soft use of coloured pencils.
Each detailed drawing possesses a tranquil thoughtfulness. Youngchae illustrates a lone woman contemplating a painting in a sombre art gallery. In another image in the publication, the illustrator captures a glass elevator with a person inside it. They look out at the world from the rising vehicle and there is a sense of introspective reflection, that overcomes every one of Youngchae’s drawings in the book. “I think my work reaches out to viewers whole-heartedly because it’s easy to empathise with the stories in the images that viewer’s may have also experienced.”
Though she studied graphic design at university, Youngchae has enjoyed drawing since her childhood but never thought she could do it for a living. “I made up my mind to become an illustrator when I designed a book of my own illustrations for my graduate show. After my graduation, I spent more of my time drawing pictures and posting them on the internet and luckily, this led to several commissions a year later and since then, I’ve been working as an illustrator.”
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