Kingston graduate Jiye Kim creates minuscule illustrations with maximum effect


Kingston graduate Jiye Kim creates illustrations that are swift in movement, capturing a scene in the blink of an eye. Naming “exaggeration, narrative and movement” as the key elements to her illustration practice, each of her drawings are highly detailed sketches, minuscule drawings with maximum effect.

Jiye’s works have a specific style to them, but her illustrations have evolved in terms of “specific themes” during her time on Kingston’s Illustration and Animation course. “I have continuously changed the way I draw,” she says. As a result Jiye has created herself a unique role as a visual communicator, learning “how to use images effectively to help the audience understand my works”.

Jiye first enrolled at Kingston on its art foundation course and the university’s ideas and creatively positive ethos made her evolving style feel at home. “I was very lucky to meet wonderful tutors in my first year in the UK,” she tells It’s Nice That. “They taught me how to create my own voice as a visual communicator and how to overcome language barriers.”

The breadth of creative courses offered surprised Jiye: “It was not only about drawing pictures but also about filming, writing, building and even playing.” With no illustration courses available at university level in her home of South Korea, the illustrator dived head first into the educational system. “I liked the way illustration was interpreted,” she explains. “I wanted to meet more people who were experimental, eager to celebrate all the processes of generating ideas and concepts in illustration and animation.”

A highly positive attitude towards illustration is a key part to Jiye’s work, resulting in pieces that are full of energy. The illustrator is modest about her skills, relaying her aptitude back to the environment at Kingston which allowed her creative endeavours to thrive. “The people in my year were super extraordinary,” she says.

“I was inspired by everyday life at university. Working as a creative is not always exciting, there’s loads of work to do and I struggled all the time. Whenever I felt exhausted I was encouraged by enthusiastic people on the course. I will never forget the passionate atmosphere in the studio and all the advice that motivated me.”

One element of her course Jiye struggled with most was actually the idea “that I wasn’t fully enjoying the projects,” she says. Yet, what this period taught the illustrator was the importance of research, giving yourself time to breathe so that ideas can generate. “The most valuable lesson I have learnt from both my tutors and peers is there is no right answer,” she explains. “I have kept this idea in my mind for the last few years and have found it very helpful whenever I make decisions or confront problems.” This advice meant that Jiye could fully experiment: “I now make an effort to do something unexpected. I focus more on what I believe in and how I think. I have established my own values and opinions, sometimes I feel the process of making an artwork is a journey of finding reasons.”

As a result, each of Jiye’s pieces are noticeably different from the last but with intricate details that make them truly her own. From sports and green landscapes to office environments, Jiye elevates her illustrations by adding underlying narratives. “I normally exaggerate the context in a story to add humour,” she explains. “I enjoy making fictional narratives and often I make a satire of current social issues.”

However one stylistic element is noticeable throughout the illustrator’s works: “I’m very obsessed with drawing figures with rough lines. I catch movement and gestures on paper and observational doodling has been so helpful for me to establish my own style. I try to use dynamic colours in my work but the overall atmosphere is quite dusty and subtle.”

With the experimental side to Jiye’s education she feels she still isn’t ready to put herself in one box. Looking towards the future the illustrator explains: “I do love both little and big drawings,” and despite being exceedingly good at minute drawings she’s confident to go big. “I don’t want to find myself to drawing in limited space. I want to be more creatively bold.”

Supported by A/D/O

Founded by MINI, A/D/O is a creative space in Greenpoint, Brooklyn dedicated to exploring new boundaries in design. At its heart is the Design Academy, which offers a range of programming to professional designers, intended to provoke and invigorate their creative practice.

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Lucy Bourton

Lucy (she/her) is the senior editor at Insights, a research-driven department with It's Nice That. Get in contact with her for potential Insights collaborations or to discuss Insights' fortnightly column, POV. Lucy has been a part of the team at It's Nice That since 2016, first joining as a staff writer after graduating from Chelsea College of Art with a degree in Graphic Design Communication.

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