Hello again all! You know, one of the many great parts about being an illustrator is the sense of community one receives with other illustrators and designers. I recently reached out to my illustration advisor in undergrad, Seo Kim, and had the chance to interview her on her craft. Seo is an excellent instructor, and she has a true passion for illustration and today’s industry that is unmatched. Her work pushes digital boundaries and maintains an organic sense of beauty and representation.
What is your background with illustration? (job, education, life experiences)
So I received my undergraduate degree from Savannah College of Art and Design in Illustration and my MFA in Illustration Practice at Maryland Institute College of Art. I taught illustration as an adjunct professor at MICA after graduation which led me to my current position as assistant professor and area coordinator of the illustration department at Towson University. Alongside teaching, I am also a freelance illustrator with a focus on children's books and editorial illustration.
What tools do you use to create your work?
I primarily use Photoshop to create my illustrations. Within Photoshop, I gravitate towards pastels and graphite combined with custom "stamp brushes" that I create with handmade textures. I draw on a Cintiq and Procreate on an iPad.
How do you manage your time to brainstorm, produce work, and meet deadlines?
My teaching schedule is set in the beginning of each semester. So I try to leave designated studio time aside for days I don't have to teach or perform administrative duties. I would say it's about a 60:40 split between teaching and illustrating. I am very deadline oriented, and I'm pretty aware of how much time I need to finish an illustration, so I just get things done by staying in my studio until it's finished especially when things are on a tight deadline.
What drew you into the illustration industry?
I think it was only natural? I've always liked drawing as a kid, and I really like drawing for a specific purpose, whether it's for a client or to communicate something. Plus, it's always nice to draw for a living.
How did you get your work published?
I didn't necessarily prepare/produce a picture book dummy during my MFA thesis, but my images gravitated towards a children's market. I signed on with an agency fairly soon after I received my MFA degree, and my first picture book was acquired through them.
Do you have any advice to give to aspiring illustrators?
Generate work consistently! This is probably the hardest thing to do when you first graduate or enter in the freelance industry. Also, using social media for self-promotion and targeting local businesses is probably the easiest and most effective way to get jobs in the beginning. Sometimes results don't happen immediately, but try not to get discouraged by this so quickly. Sometimes perseverance and diligence can be a better quality to have as an illustrator than sheer talent.