We are so excited to be starting an interview series featuring makers and artists from all around the world. Our first artist spotlight is So Youn Lee, a dear friend of mine and a seriously talented fine artist based in Los Angeles. We met nearly 8 years ago at our alma mater, Art Center College of Design, and her work and positive energy continues to inspire me.
1. Your work is imaginative and your color palette is exciting. Could you tell us about your creative process?
My process is very simple. I always have something in mind of what I like to draw. Most of the time, my work begins from a simple sketchbook drawing, and then I add details and story on top of it. It's like building a stage for a character.
2. Where did you grow up, and how did it influence your journey to becoming the artist you are today?
I grew up in South Korea, where I spent a lot of time by myself either using my imagination or reading books. Since I lived in the countryside when I was young, there were not many kids my age. I loved the times when I sat by the big windows at home in the afternoon daydreaming. I also watched a lot of animation, which were filled with adventure and mystery.
3. You've done personal commissions, collaborations, international art shows, product designs, college lectures, etc. Which was your favorite? Is there anything else you'd like to do next?
They were all fun! All challenging in different ways, too. My next project will hopefully be a limited edition art toy/sculpture.
4. What inspires you through creative blocks?
I just keep drawing things. Once I start to draw, all the negative feelings and thoughts that bother me disappear. Or I flip through my photo album filled with cute animal photos.
5. If you had to do any other career, what would it be and why?
I have no idea. Perhaps a farmer. Something more simple. It would be so cool to eat the fruits I grow myself.
6. What does your studio look like and what is your view while you work?
It's a very simple space with two tables, two chairs and one easel. I use my dining table for painting sometimes. I keep my windows closed when I work as it helps me to concentrate without distractions.
7. What is your favorite type of cards to receive and why?
All cards are lovely... but I love ones that have humor.
8. If you can be pen pals with anyone from the historical past or current present, who would it be?
Sorry, I can't choose. There's just too many!
9. What books or resources would you recommend to aspiring artists?
There are so many. I used to work at the library when I was in college and I discovered so many great books and artists from there. Anything you like can be great inspiration. I love comic books because it's really helpful for building your imagination and narrative/character development. Encyclopedias are another good one. Endless things to get inspired by in there.
10. What word of wisdom would you give to creative people trying to find their way?
Surround yourself with the people who believe in you. Let's just keep doing what we are doing, and of course eat good dessert time to time.
Thank you so much, So Youn!
Be sure to follow her beautiful work: