Jungyeon Roh is a NY based illustrator from Seoul, Korea. Since she came to NY in 2006, she has never stopped drawing and telling her visual stories. Drawing on both Eastern and Western experiences, Roh’s work, primarily in silkscreen, has been awarded two gold cubes from the Art Directors Club, two silver medals from the Society of Illustrators NY and LA, and featured in Print magazine, Communication Arts, American Illustration, 3×3, CQ and CMYK, among other major publications. She was selected one of the Print Magazine’s 2012 New Visual Artists 20 under 30. She currently lives in the Upper East Side, and her studio #503 located in Midtown Manhattan. And as with all New York creatives, I feel honored that they gave up time in their busy schedule to chat with me and explored various topics ranging from all over. Read below for the full interview…
I often think of you as a “rising star” in the Illustration industry because I see you progressing at an incredible rate, landing gigs at the New York Times and opening up magazines and seeing illustrations by you printed amongst the pages. To what do you attribute your success as an artist?
Jungyeon: Firstly, thanks for thinking me as a “rising star”, but I don’t know how to discuss the word ‘success’ yet. But I really like and believe the 10 success tips from Oprah Winfrey.
What kind of opportunities are afforded to an illustrator when moving to the U.S. Are there fewer artistic opportunities in Seoul?
Jungyeon: America is full of opportunities for artists/illustrators. U.S gave chances through one’s abilities, not a resume. Studying art in Korea allowed me to have lots of good skills, but it was hard to find the way to live as a young female artist. As a young woman in Korea, much of my culture has a limited and preconceived view of what I should be like, and I resisted following any of them. But I can endlessly dream my future as an illustrator here in America. One of my future dreams is moving to California and having my own silkscreen studio may be in three years?…
Could you describe the process of submitting art for the New York newspapers? How much creative freedom does the Time give you?
Jungyeon: Process is 3-4 idea sketches, sometimes tightened sketch confirmation, and then final. It depends on the assignments, and the working times are four hours to two weeks. Mostly, I can get creative freedom, but I respect my art directors’ opinions the most.
Having the opportunity to share a space with Yuko Shimizu, what kind of advantage has that given you through the years?
Jungyeon: I have a studio next door to Yuko Shimizu and Katie Yamasaki (Shy studio). Yuko was my idol since I came to New York, and the first time I was invited to the Shy Studio in Fall 2007 from Marcos Chin who was their former studio mate and also my idol/teacher. I got tons of motivations at that time and it became my dream studio since. I moved here last January when Yuko suggested, and it was the perfect time for me to having my own studio. I love the fact that I can always focus on working at my studio and have Yuko and Katie next door. They aroused me to work harder, and we are all girls, so sometimes I get some life lessons from them as well as professional advice. I even learned how to cook yummy veggies from Yuko, and went to a yoga studio with Katie. Oh, and I also love Bruiser so much (Yuko’s dog)!
What advice can you give to creative to be more honest with themselves and in their work to become good visual storytellers?
Jungyeon: Just being honest to yourself and your feelings. Respect your backgrounds, experiences, environments and situations you got. Drawing what you want and what you super into it at that time. Don’t look at or compare to what others doing, just following your steps and speed. Speak with your visual languages, not with your mouth.
I know one of your goals is to become an influential figure in the creative world. What is your plan to achieve this goal? Have you ever thought about becoming an instructor?
Jungyeon: I want to make my own illustrated books, and if I get enough money from them, I want to donate to help out uneducated people and sick animals. And yes, I want to be an instructor someday and give back the endless kindness that I got from some amazing teachers at SVA.
What are some of your favorite Asian films or Anime?
Jungyeon: Believe it or not, I don’t watch animations. But, I love Asian movies and TV shows (we call them ‘Dramas’) my favorite Asian film is Oasis.
Yuko grew up in Japan and was pretty outspoken with us about not particularly enjoying her time there. Do you have fonder memories of where you came from (Korea)?
Jungyeon: As I mentioned other interviews before, I was ‘Goody-two-shoes’ while I was studying in New York. However, when I was in Korea, I’m the opposite of the ‘Goody- two-shoes’. I didn’t like schools, studies, rules, and the pressure all the students have to have. I was really into Hip-hop, fashion and art, and once I even told my dad I want to be a female rapper (I’m glad I’m not!). The best memories I got were when I was in college in Korea. There’s no fear and full of passion and freedom. I sometimes really miss the time, but I believe it made me a hard worker after I came to America. It’s because I had no other curiosities except illustration.
Screen-printing is a relatively limited medium in this day and age. What keeps you attracted to silk-screening?
Jungyeon: Some people who were doing silkscreen for years (not one or two) might know the reasons why I want to keep doing silkscreen even though it’s limited. We can only share the feelings. Simply, silkscreen is hip and awesome.
I know you battled issues with your body and just general anxieties that young people deal with at a young age. In the present moment, as a creative and as a person, are you happy?
Jungyeon: Yes, I’m happy. Don’t know how to not be happy.
Lastly, what upcoming projects, galleries or general things can we expect from you in 2012-2013?
Jungyeon: I did some very exciting advertising projects since last winter that included some of my favorite brands. I also expect to do a project for something I became a –holic about.
Want to keep tabs on Jungyeon’s work? Follow her cookie crumb trail below: