Sujin Kim empathises with that “back to work feeling” in five new comics
For Found in Adobe Stock, It’s Nice That has commissioned creatives to explore the world of Adobe Stock’s collection to make a new series of works. The project asks each creative to dive into the depths of Adobe Stock as a starting point, and then devise new short stories or create new worlds from chosen images. We follow each creative’s journey on their stock narrative endeavours and unpack how they used their individual findings to make innovative final pieces.
It’s amazing how Sujin Kim turns a bunch of block colours on a page with a couple of words scrawled on top into a laugh out loud illustration. Simple, direct but, above all, pretty funny, the Korean illustrator knows how to deliver a punchline with a splash of colour and some hand-drawn text. Since first discovering the Korean illustrator in October of last year, here at It’s Nice That, we can’t seem to get enough of her. As well as treating us to some ghost-tastic comics for our exclusive Instagram segment earlier this year, we then asked Sujin to create four more comics from the Adobe Stock library, pretty much because we all knew she’d be great at it.
Part of her work’s success lies in an original formula to deliver visual wit time and time again. She pinpoints a relevant topic or theme to express in an image, then finds a relatable personal experience that the public can empathise with. Combining these two elements into one decisive image, Sujin hits the nail on the head, so to speak. Intending to apply the same formula to her Adobe Stock comics, at first, Sujin thought the project would be pretty simple to tackle. It didn’t prove as easy however, as the process of creating entirely new narratives from external stock images presented a whole new way of working.
As a consequence, Sujin approached the project in an entirely different way. She started to think of new and unexpected ideas from the angle of the Stock image which in turn, freed up a different part of her imagination. “When I started this project, I thought it would be a little easier,” Sujin tells It’s Nice That. “I often make illustrations from pictures that I have taken and I thought working from the Adobe Stock library would be similar.” But the reality of the project proved differently. Though it took her a while to get used to working with found imagery that she had no control over, eventually Sujin embraced the given storylines of the image. And now, she explains, “I intend to use stock images as a useful way to embody my ideas.”
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On first hearing the article would be published this summer, Sujin’s initial idea was to create a series of comics on the theme of summer holidays. “I thought it would be an empathetic topic” she adds on the decision. Searching for a timely topic that many of our readers could easily relate to, Sujin went on a dive into the archive of imagery. Searching the terms “beach”, “summer” and holiday”, for Sujin’s first comic Holiday’s Over, she came across an image of a golden sandy beach.
Engraved in the sand with a stick, the words “happy holiday!” have been carefully drawn out while facing the imminent threat of being washed away by an upcoming wave. “That feeling of despondency of seeing your words disappear in the sea is kind of similar to going back to work after a summer holiday,” explains Sujin. And drawing out this feeling in the comic, Sujin turns the emotion of the stock image on its head, illustrating a comic around that “back to work” feeling as opposed to a holiday celebration.
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In her second comic Shadow, Sujin depicts an idyllic summer holiday activity; floating on one’s back in the sea while the hot sun radiates onto you. In Sujin’s version however, the sun is like a red hot pancake and there’s more to the standard sunbathing session than meets the eye.
After searching the Adobe Stock library for something to do with “sea”, “beach” and “vacation”, Sujin came across an image of a woman floating on a canvas of crystal clear blue water. “You can see the floor of the ocean in sunny weather” says Sujin, “and I looked at the image and thought, ‘where are all the fish?’” It is the sea after all.
“I thought it would be fun to make a story out of this question,” she adds. So in her comic, she addresses the mysterious whereabouts of the fish. As the comic edges closer and closer to the moustachioed sunbather evidently having a splendid time on the water, in the square comic’s fourth panel, we can indeed see where the fish have gone. In light of the blazing hot sun, an octopus, dolphin and several other smaller schools of fish can be seen to be basking in the cool shadow of the sunbather. And they also look very pleased to be doing so.
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If you’re an animal lover, and if you’ve traveled to an exotic new place and seen a beloved fluffy animal wandering the streets ahead, it’s highly likely that a cheesy photo may have been taken of said cute animal and yourself making friends. It may even be the case that money was exchanged for such a photo. Playing on this summer holiday trope, Sujin’s third comic Summer Business explores this idea, but instead of a koala or a panda or an elephant, it’s a turtle.
“I knew I wanted to make a comic from this situation,” says Sujin on further exploring the theme of summer holidays. And when she searched the terms “selfie with animals”, she was faced with an overwhelming amount of options with pretty much every animal you could think of. Refining her search to “selfie in the sea”, she finally decided on the Stock image of a snorkeler and turtle happily posing together mid-swim. It isn’t until we reach the fourth panel of the comic that we realise that the turtle is only in it for the money, leaving behind the man $5 lighter and clutching the bill in its mouth.
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“If you go on a beach, camping or amusement park holiday, many people often get tired of the people around them,” explains Sujin on her fourth comic Traffic Jam. Centring this penultimate work on the amusement park experience, Sujin’s immediate thoughts on the theme were queueing, waiting, and more queueing. Combining these two ideas together, Sujin thought that “it would be fun to make a comic out of this situation.”
In Traffic Jam, in the first frame, Sujin highlights all the best bits of a water slide; that feeling of exhilaration as wind hits your face while you’re gaining momentum going down a slide. “I found a suitable image of a water park slide in the Adobe Stock library,” she says. Then, using this image as the foundation for her comic, she drew “people who are initially excited on the water slide, but in reality, many people are having to wait and wait for their chance for a ride. It’s like a traffic jam stuck on the road to vacation.”
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In Sujin’s final comic Traveller, the idea came about after she realised she’d seen so many stock images of people photographing historical sites, beaches or landscapes on the project so far. She started thinking about her own holidays and how she takes lots of photos of her daily surroundings because everything seems so new. But when she looks back on these photos, the subject of the image often seems meaningless. She notes how travellers or tourists often take photos of menial items when on holiday and wanted to make a comic about this temporary fascination. “I used to think the situation was pretty funny,” says Sujin. “And I thought it would be fun to make out of a situation where everything looks special and positive when traveling.”
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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.