The body of work you just made “The Invisible Rules”, what is the idea behind it, what are you trying to show?
In Berlin I was feeling these social pressures, invisible pressures, they were not tangible, but you feel them every day. Pressures about your career, family, social media pressures, what you should do, and it sort of culminated into the first painting, called Stranger In A Strange Land.
As a Korean American growing up in western culture, I felt a little bit outside, but also a little inside. I studied psychology in college, nature vs nature, and I just wanted to push it out into a visual landscape. Back then the world felt very tumultuous, hence the landscape, the sci fi – tech noir narrative. There is hope in the paintings too, it is not all bad.
Are the paintings of you?
Yes they are, they are versions of myself, I am very into symbology, taro, mythology, iconography and religion. All of these narratives are all wrapped up in the work
You have a distinct style as an artist and a particular shoe that is heavily represented in your paintings, what is the reason for the incorporation of the shoe and the reason behind it’s appearance in the works?
In my career I have done a lot of creative direction for street wear brands. This brought on the idea of conceptual thinking and what it takes to make a strong campaign.
Through working with these clients you can see the impact that you have throughout the world and particularly young people and what can inspire them. This is especially the case with Nike, like man you want those Nikes, its hype, cultural relevancy, you are part of a community, that’s the meaning behind the Uptempos. I also wear them all the time, so it’s a symbol of me, its cultural relevance and a hype machine, that you constantly feel you have to be a part of, so it is good thing and a bad thing. These tie into the narrative of The Invisible Rules.
You spent a long time making these, over the course of 5 years. I imagine that you did the majority of the work over the last five years?
Definitely. Lockdown was terrible and great, it gave me space to plan out these narratives. After meeting certain people and having them discuss what they thought and what they experienced when looking at my work, it really clicked. I didn’t sketch, write them out or plan these, it sort of fell into place as I went along, the first collection, definitely took a long time figure out, not only visually and representing what I was going through but technicality wise, just getting back into painting. Now I know where I am going to go with it, I think it just takes time,
Which direction do you think you’ll go into?
I know the story line and style will not be wildly different, but definitely bigger and better.
For other artists, who have ideas like you have and want to push themselves, making a great body of work and multiple pieces – but have creative blocks and procrastinate – what advice would you give to people going through that? How do you get over that to make the work?
A white canvas is a nightmare sometimes…
I guess it is difficult with social media to compare yourself to what other people are doing and feel stressed out about it. I would say take time out from it and connect with yourself again, go back to the basics, what you like, what you are interested in, are you interested in sci fi, fantasy, gnomes? Whatever, whatever you are inherently into and passionate about, go back to that, and that will help you navigate where you want to go and where your voice wants to be.