We at Zeum were quick to fall in love with the wholly arresting, bold, and delightfully unconventional aesthetic of 26 year old fashion illustrator Mina Kim. She has an undeniable talent for rendering textures and patterns both in startling and attention grabbing detail and virtual tangibility. We are especially obsessed with her fearless and precise use of color, and the air of fantasy inherent to all her work. Its truly easy to get lost in any of them!
Tell us a little bit about yourself Mina! Where are you from, and how did you get started as a fashion illustrator and textile designer?
I’m from the Republic Of Korea and in College I studied textile and fashion design. Over the tears I have worked and dabbled in the fine arts and illustration, fashion design, textile design, photography, etc. and I have just enjoyed doing everything that I could; in regards to the visual arts. Though not too long ago I decided to focus on fashion illustration.
Please describe your work in three words.
Instinctive, Tension, Epicene.
We’ve noticed that you tend to render your figures in monochrome. While you inject bright and bold colors into the clothes etc. that you show them wearing, and into abstracted background elements. Can you tell us a bit about what draws you to this particular aesthetic?
I like to combine different elements and love the mood that monochrome can generate, and the distinct impression it can make juxtaposed against an array of bright colors.
List five things that fascinate you.
Not quite sure I can narrow this down so I have to say everything and anything. I just like to see things and reinterpret them; express them in my own way.
In crafting your portraits do you work predominantly from your imagination or from photographs?
I get inspiration from a lot of sources including books, music, photography, magazines, the internet, works of art by other people, really from anything that I can get a hold of. I like to leave myself open to experiencing anything and through this I manage to arrive at my own spontaneous yet instinctive feelings in regard to the direction in which I take each of my works.
Can you tell us any songs, stories, or films etc. that you feel have had a significant impact upon the creation of any of your pieces?
Well… Some of my pieces were inspired a bit by movies, and as such contain elements of certain specific films. In the past I have gotten a lot of inspiration from director Wong Kar-Wai’s films, as well as the films The Dreamers and Leon. They inspired the feeling of motion in my “Soften and Mood” series. Additionally, the darkness, intensity, cynical characters and overall atmosphere in my “Dark lady” series was inspired by such films as Blind, Black Swan, as well as Antichrist.
Also, I always listen to music that really effects me emotionally while I’m working. I often find myself listening to Nouvelle Vague, Port of Notes, Paris Match, Muse, Melody Gardot, Lily Frost, Koop, Keren Ann, Beck, Jean-Michel Jarre, Gotan Project, Duran Duran, Dido, Diane Birch, Arco, and; Amy Winehouse.
Who are your personal fashion icons and/or favorite designers?
In a way it’s impossible for me to simply narrow down that list. I really just feel love for everyone in the world who is creating something or breaking the mold, artistically. I suppose that I can name-drop Dries Van Not on, Christopher Kane, and Dolce & Gabbana. In my mind, they are all are creating new and innovative visual effects within different facets of fashion.
Also I love Sandra Backlund, Iris Van Herpen, Natalia Brilli, Aithor Throup, Junya Watanabe, Vladmir Karaleev. They show incredibly great technical appreciation and an astoundingly high level of craftsmanship.
And I suppose I can also list, A Detacher, Issey Miyake, Rad Hourani, Umit Benan, Vivienne Westwood, and Maison Martin Margiela.
What materials do you use in creating your pieces?
Pencil, Pen, Ink, Water color, Color pencil…
What does your work mean to you and what do you hope that it will mean to those who follow your work?
Through art I have been able to express my feelings, and things that inspire me, just like in keeping a diary. And honestly if my work can generate any kind of emotion in the people who see them, it is my honor, my pleasure.
Are there any projects that you are currently working on that you can tell us a bit about?
It really hasn’t been too long since I started working just as an illustrator. For now, I’m working on expanding some of my existing series, and I’m in the process of starting a brand new series. Though since I haven’t completely finished my new series yet, for now I am putting off the exhibition and collaboration.