Subin Yang, drawing digitally...
A detailed illustration and a detailed interview with Subin!
Interview by Hugo Ross
Illustration by Subin Yang
Feb 18, 2019
VM: Where did you study?
SY: I studied Illustration at Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, OR.
VM: What was your defining experience there? (at college / university)
SY: When I decided to go to an art school, one of my specific goals was to learn to draw digitally. As you could probably tell from my work, I love vibrant colors and for a long time I’ve tried all sorts of different traditional mediums to get colors exactly the way I wanted. I’ve tried markers, color pencils, collage, and more but digital programs (Photoshop to be exact!) were the most fitting. It’s still never perfect since to really translate the colors from screen to paper, you’d need special printers and special inks. But it was still the best option for creating images in colors I wanted. I’d started drawing digitally for the first time starting second year and by the final year, I was drawing completely on the computer.
VM: What are your favourite tools for producing non-digital work?
SY: Although I work on the computer most of the time, I have a huge crush on artists who can make illustrations with a variety of traditional medium to the point the viewer can’t quite tell what they’d used for effect. Out of all traditional medium, collage between paper, pen, and, color pencils was the best combination of medium I’d use when drawing by hand. I still use textures I’d made back in school with printmaking tools on my illustrations both digital and traditional. And I try to translate the bulkiness and flatness of cut-out papers when I’m drawing digitally as well.
VM: Can you teach us any quick tips for the digital programs you use?
SY: I don’t know if I’m actually tech-savvy though…Most of the methods for illustrating on Photoshop is habitual and I feel like there’s multiple ways to do the same thing on Photoshop. One thing I do is that I make all my shapes using the lasso tool! I want the shapes to feel angular and somewhat geometric but not too perfect so the lasso tool works better than the shape tool for me.
VM: What are your favourite ways to collaborate?
SY: I love doing group shows! It’s crazy how no matter how narrow the topic is, every artist can come up with a different image and angle to work it. The few times I had a chance to do a collaborative project, it was so nice having earnest feedback from a variety of viewpoints. Working as a freelance illustrator, I’ve come to realize how much I miss art school where I can get live feedback in an environment full of artists!
VM: How do you seek inspiration and how do you document it?
SY: I find inspiration everywhere around me just living through life. I think I take a lot of pictures and make doodles and notes on my phone but most importantly, I try to go out and see what’s happening around the city. One of my favorite places to be in and draw about is in public transportations, especially trains and subways. I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of a liminal space in movement full of strangers who are going a similar direction. I’ve moved around a lot as a kid and even now so concepts about home and culture are always in my mind as well. These often translated a lot to food of specific cultures in my personal projects.
VM: What is over the horizon / What is your next project?
SY: I’m currently working with a Korean client which is one of the few I’ve had since I’d moved back to Seoul, South Korea! It’s interesting to see how the work process is a bit different from my western clients so I’m learning a lot. I’m also hoping to make more illustrated products. I kind of ended up closing my shop on my website & selling everything when I moved from Portland, OR to NYC. Once I have more time, I want to make more zines, stickers, and more to make my illustrations feel more physical.
VM: How long do you work / talk us through your working day!
SY: Thankfully, I’ve finally started getting a consistent amount of work since the end of last year. It’s been around 2 years since I’ve worked professionally outside of school so I’m still trying to figure out how to balance my schedule. Currently, I try to wake up sometime between 8 - 10 AM everyday and I start the day with checkin my email on the phone. From there, I make a list of things I have to do that day and also mark dates on a calendar on my table because I really need that physical and visual reminder! After I have my breakfast with my family, I start working on the computer. Sometimes I’m working all day on the computer with some music (depends vastly depending on how fast I want to work) or Netflix on in the background. Usually, I don’t really have a weekend but I try to take a day off every now and then when I have the least amount of work to go out. I wish I was more diligent to go running more than once every three weeks but realistically, I don’t exercise enough. I usually end the day around 2 - 3 AM, which I’m also trying to change. I honestly think I’m actually a morning person but sometimes anxiety just keeps me up at night.
VM: What do you do to remedy writers/designers block - (hobbies, sports or activities?)
SY: Definitely not drawing! I’ve realized a big part of my artist’s block comes from anxiety and worrying about things way ahead of time. So it’s important that I physically get myself to stop brooding so much in the corner of my room. Sometimes I go running to get some fresh air in my brain, sometimes I take the whole week off doing everything except drawing. I try to check out exhibitions, shows, or just take a walk outside in the neighborhood. A simple walk is sometimes just the right amount of physical activity to declutter my mind. Although sometimes a moment in the shower gives you more ideas in 20 minutes than walking around all day. Cleaning the house gives me a sense of order and calm. Lastly, the best way get out of my headspace is to meet people and just talk.
VM: Love it - Thanks Subin :-)