When I had tough times, nothing has comforted me much; only the passage of time helped. I think it could have influenced my work. I think the passage of time restores people.Jinhwa Jang
The following interview forms part of a series where I invite contemporary artists to each reflect on their personal history, meaning, and philosophy, and how those are expressed throughout their creative process.
This week I talk to Jinhwa Jang, an illustrator currently based in Seoul, South Korea.
Are you guided by any essential philosophy in your creative expression?
I don’t know much about philosophy and many of my works are brief-based. I usually make news and article editorial illustrations, and they are exposed to large amount of diverse unspecified readers in a very short time. Therefore, I aim to make gender- and ethnic-inclusive work.
So far in your creative process, what have been the most important discoveries or learning curves?
This must be far from techniques, but affected my creative process a lot. Working as a freelancer for more than 2 years, I’ve faced creative blocks many times. Moderate excersice, rest, hobby, and regular life helped me a lot.
When I was in art school, I learned not only from the professor and class, but also from my classmates. When I graduated and moved to Shanghai, I couldn’t meet any of my illustrator friends. Since I moved to Seoul about a year ago, I’ve met my illustrator colleagues and found it motivates me to work hard, and I count myself lucky I can hang out with them regularly.
Robert Rauschenberg said, “An empty canvas is full.” How much do you agree with him?
I know this sounds silly, but I agree as a creator who always has to meet the deadline. The canvas I opened for a commission or a sketch should always get done and delivered to the client by the deadline.
Very recently, I was invited by a friend who is a curator at a gallery, to watch a painting show with an account for each painting. Watching the show with the behind-the-scene stories told by the curator, the paintings looked more interesting in the lighting and the space, and it was a very new experience for me. I agree that light, shadow, atmosphere, the interaction with the people in the room, can be part of the painting.
Feeling lost, stuck and without meaning are experiences we all face as human beings. Why do you think that is? How do you approach those feelings in your work?
Maybe it’s obvious that life has ups and downs. We all have expectations, disappointments and anxiety because we are human. I think my work doesn’t specifically depict such feelings. When I had tough times, nothing has comforted me much; only the passage of time helped. I think it could have influenced my work. I think the passage of time restores people.
What is the most unsettling work of art you’ve come across?
‘Top of the Lake’ by Jane Campion.
If there were an artwork that depicted your current experience of the world, what might it look like?
An editorial illustration piece I made for Wonderland Amsterdam, entitled “a colourful workplace” (shown below). The article was about cultural diversity and the illustration is suggesting a place going through a difficult transition and finally improved place. COVID-19 has somewhat hit my career and life but I still work as illustrator and love my job. I started learning another field recently, and I’m excited for what I can make next year.