For those of you who follow my Instagram, you probably saw a series of paintings I’m doing for fun. As you may or may not know, I love giraffes. They are one of the strangest creatures created by God, and they never cease to fascinate me. Seriously, what was the point of their long necks? Why do they slobber so much? Why do they have those cute little horns on their heads? The male giraffes fight with their necks to win the love of a mate. The female giraffes give birth standing up.
Just as I am intrigued by giraffes, I am becoming more and more interested in people. I love observing people, learning from people, and I cherish the moments we as human beings can create. We take on emotions that no other animals can fully feel or express. We seek meaning. We seek joy. We seek deep and healthy relationships, whether it be with family, friends, or our significant other.
I wanted to find a way to combine the two things that I am interested in. Imagine if giraffes and other animals could feel and act as we do. What if their emotions were just as complex?
I’m still learning how I paint best, when I paint best, and where I get my ideas. The moments I drew and painted so far have been based on people I know or memories I have and had. I’m still figuring out how to scan and retouch my work properly, so hopefully I can share all of that with you soon.
It’s no exaggeration that I would not be where I am without my fiancé Manny. This is the man who stayed up with me in college before we started dating to keep me company while I worked on my studio projects—he was in Boston, I was in Providence. Yes, he stayed up with me online! To this day, there is no one else who supports and believes in my work as much as he does. He still stays up with me while I work; this time, I also get to keep him company while he studies as a student at med school.
Nonetheless, I struggle many times with fear even with the constant words of affirmation. It’s the voice inside my head that tells me, “Kayoung, you can’t do it. Just go to sleep. Spend your time doing something you know you can do.”
For those of you who experience fear, too, know that it is paralyzing and unproductive. If fear didn’t exist, I feel like I’d have hundreds of pieces lying around my studio along with stacks of completed sketchbooks. That’s not the case at this point because fear often times prevents me from making any mark. I’m afraid of making bad pieces, and I’m afraid of failing. I’m afraid that people might think my art school education was a waste or that I can’t illustrate because I studied industrial design. Or that I simply suck.
This blog post won’t end with me saying that I finally overcame fear nor will this end with me writing about ways to kill it. However, I’m excited for the day when fear won’t consume me. I’d love to stay forever young, but I know getting older will come with more wisdom. And more wisdom means finding effective ways to filter out the negative thoughts in my head!
These days I’m working on learning how to draw again. If I don’t practice, I lose touch. Kind of like languages (I took French for four years and all I remember how to say is “I’m hungry”). My wrists went back to being rigid, and my hands start shaking at the thought of drawing a line.
These are the times I miss college. I had no choice but to improve my technical skills because the freshman foundation studios went for eight hours a day, three times a week. We drew and drew and drew until we lost our fingerprints from smearing charcoal and got a free tan from the dark dust. It was a time to be less of a perfectionist because, well, we had to finish what we drew by a certain hour. Even though I probably lived on 28-35 hours a sleep a week, life was good.
I’m writing about this because a couple of my coworkers and I are going to be attending Sketch Night at the Society of Illustrators on October 8th. We’re going to be drawing nudes! Yay! I can’t wait to learn how to draw from observation again. To give you a sense of how bad I got at drawing, here is a comparison of then and now.
This is what I drew in college back in 2005.
This is how I draw now.
Yes, the ribs are floating in this instance. Yes, this skeleton is striped. Okay, I admit it’s a slight exaggeration, but it’s not too far from the truth. I’m sure if I put the time, effort, and practice into it again, I can make it look believable. I think what’s really cool is that my coworkers and I will be learning how to draw again together.
Let’s just say, it’s time to get diiiiiiirty!
I’m sure I’m speaking for every designer on my team, but Scott Campbell totally just blew us out of the water today. One of the sweetest things has got to be meeting someone you’ve enamored from afar and finding out they are way more awesome than you imagined them to be in person.
Scott C. is an illustrator with a lot of versatile experience. He’s worked at Lucas Arts, art directed other video games, illustrated children’s books, and drawn a whole lot of comics. He keeps up a blog called Great Showdowns, which is a “chronicling of some of the greatest confrontations in film history.” Super cool, right?
What was even cooler is that he shared his process, including the drawings he did as a kid. He said, “The end product’s not the big deal—it’s the process that’s fun.” And he was totally right. When you hear about the process from the artist, you end up appreciating the work so much more; that’s where all the fun, juicy details are!
Here are some other things I learned from Scott C. today.
1. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself.
Don’t be a perfectionist. Do complete your projects. If you feel stuck on one piece, move onto another one and finish that one. Anyone can work on one painting forever because, honestly, something could always be better. Sometimes you just need those little wins and pieces where you are also able to practice your technical skills. It’s the only way to improve as an artist!
The timing of this piece of advice could not have been more perfect because I actually talked to my fellow coworker and artist Scotty Albrecht last week about working on quantity over quality over the next two months. I used to think being a perfectionist produced great work, but it certainly doesn’t.
2. Show your work.
Scott C. said something very similar to what I heard writer and inspirational speaker Jon Acuff say. “90% done and shared is worth more than 100% perfect in your head and not published.” It is the truth. If you don’t show your work because you’re afraid it’s so darn horrible, you won’t get feedback. You’ll actually never know if it was, indeed, horrible or if it was the negative voice inside your head speaking. All it takes is one person telling you, “Hey, I dig your work.” It will fuel you to keep going. It certainly does for me, which makes me wonder why I don’t do it more often.
Thank you, Laurel, for making this happen!
Here is a photo of me with zee artist at the end of the chat. What an awesome time at work!
I am SUPER stoked for Scott C. to come to the Gilt office and talk to the creative team about his work. Another post about the actual talk to come soon. Did I mention I am SUPER STOKED?!
Small talk sucks, but I feel like I’ve always been pretty good at it. It’s comfortable to talk about the weather today, the weather tomorrow, and the weather forecast for the weekend. As I get older, however, I find it easier to get into a conversation that is more honest.
These days, I find a lot of joy in listening to other people’s dreams. Earlier this week, a few of my coworkers and I went for a nice walk to get coffee. During the walk, I asked, “What would you do if money didn’t matter?” The responses were so interesting and special; it gave me insight into who these web-designers-by-day were outside of work.
Often times I imagine meeting new people and breaking out into song like the characters did in the Disney-animated film Tangled. Long story short, while Rapunzel and Flynn are running away from Gothel, they end up at this dinky pub/inn where they are glared upon by the thugs. These thugs look horrifying, disgusting, and intimidating. Something horrible is about to happen when Rapunzel interrupts the thugs and says, “Have some humanity. Haven’t any of you ever had a dream?” This stirs something in the hearts of the thugs, and they break out into song (of course!) about their dreams. It goes a little something like this.
Sharing goals and dreams are great because you get to see the passion people hold. As I mentioned earlier, it’s truly special. I feel we were all made to do something with a little more purpose. It’s also a great way to keep each other accountable; we can falter, lose confidence, and give up entirely if we don’t have that community of “passion friends.” It’s so important to find that group of people you could trust with your dreams—small or big. Personally, I struggle with dreaming big because I think it’s so ridiculous and impossible. Sometimes, you just need a friend to tell you, “You can do it.” Sometimes, that’s all it takes for those dreams to become the present.
“Your work is a gift, and the world is waiting for it.” ― James Victore
A big thanks to Scotty for recommending this video. To all you creatives looking to do meaningful and satisfying work, this video is very much worth the hour. I highly recommend playing it in the background while you’re working.
If I could draw and paint all day, I would choose to do it in Seattle and its surrounding towns. It’s the perfect marriage of nature and urbanity. Pictured here is the Rattlesnake Lake—a gorgeous start to the perfect hike up Rattlesnake Ridge.
I had the honor and privilege to create a custom piece for a friend/old colleague of mine. I was super psyched when he asked me if I could paint something that could go live in his baby’s room. Of course, I said, “YES!” As time passed, it started to feel like a scary task as the negative voice that is ever-present in me (and a lot of artists in general) started to take over. However, this was not the time for that voice to be dominant. It was a dream come true; I never would have imagined that posting a couple of my drawings on Instagram would lead to this.
Because this was going to be my first commissioned piece, I wanted to find a way to make it really special for my friend Roni, his wife Nicki, and their baby. I found out they call their daughter “Cami Lamb,” which is the most adorable nickname ever. Once I heard that, I already knew I wanted to draw Cami in a lamb costume amongst other animals in the off-perspective environments I love to draw. Now, I didn’t want to just draw any animal, so I asked them to send me some photos of the stuffed animals and/or dolls that are in her room. Here are some of the photos Nicki sent over:
Aren’t these dolls so cute?! Anyway, I started to do a composition sketch. Doing this helps me figure out what goes where without worrying much about the details.
Next, I use the composition sketch as a reference to draw out the details of the piece. This part usually takes the longest time for me because the perfectionist in me kicks in. Draw, erase, draw, erase, draw erase. Thankfully, I still own a couple of Tombow erasers from the past (they are soft enough that they don’t rip the paper but effective enough that they erase super well!).
Once I got this to a good place, I started painting it with a mix of watercolor and gouache. A big thanks goes to my mom for passing onto me some Turner gouache tubes and discontinued Luma watercolors that come out super vibrant. I still have a lot of practicing to do with these mediums and can’t wait to revisit them. Here is how the final piece came out.
Roni and Nicki, thank you again for being my first clients and for trusting me with this piece. I hope you guys can continue to enjoy it over the years! xo
I often wonder what kind of work would have been produced if artists didn’t pass away so young. When I think about all the artists that had their lives taken away too early, Egon Schiele comes to mind first.
I was initially introduced to this ingenious Austrian on National Portfolio Day back in 2004. I was flipping through my portfolio pieces at the SVA table when the admissions officer asked, “Have you heard of Egon Schiele? Your blind contour drawings of these nude models remind me of him.”
At that time, I had no idea whether that was a compliment or a horrible thing for an art school hopeful to hear. I told her to write down his name for me on a piece of paper so that I could go home and look him up (I would have gone home and Googled “Yee Gon Shi Lee” if she didn’t spell it out for me). All I remember is gasping and thinking, “Was the admissions lady smoking crack?! How dare she minimize his work to say that my crappy drawings reminded her of his pieces of awesomeness?!”
A lot of conservatives might not appreciate the subjects of his paintings and might dismiss him right away. However, if you can remove yourself from the content and focus on his technical abilities, I’m sure you would appreciate him in some way. For example, it’s unbelievable that he could distort the human body in such a fluid way that you end up believing that that’s how a person should look like in real life.
Egon Schiele passed away at age 28. To think that he accomplished this much in his short lifetime is just surreal. I’m 26 now, and I feel like a little infant just getting the hang of walking. Schiele is a reminder that life is unpredictable, and it’s really a beautiful thing to chase your dreams while you can!
Hello! My name is Kayoung (pronounced kah-YOUNG). Let me take you back to a seven-year-old version of myself.
When I was seven, I decided that I wanted to become an artist when I grew up. I couldn’t picture myself as a ballerina, a chef, a dolphin-saver, nor a professional origamist. I’m pretty sure when I came out of my mother’s womb I was holding onto my umbilical cord like a paintbrush. I’m also pretty sure I had dreams that my mom would be Elizabeth Peyton and my dad Kurt Schwitters (obviously I was wrong because my parents are Asian). All joking aside, I knew I was born to be an artist.
While my mom isn’t Peyton, she is an extraordinary artist. Because of that, I grew up knowing it was always okay to hold onto dreams of becoming what she is. When she moved to America in her mid-twenties, she started working as a hand painter of textiles. She would paint various patterns and repeat them over and over again by hand—a skill people aren’t taught today with the new invention called Adobe Creative Suite. We always had gouaches, tempera paints, and watercolors all over our kitchen table and floors. There was cold-pressed paper and hot-pressed paper rolled up in the corners of our apartment. My mom also had these sharp-looking pens I have come to know today as X-Acto knives. These were materials too expensive for me to use as a kid, so I continued to use the stuff my mom got me from K-Mart: Crayola paint, a pad of plain white paper, and Elmer’s glue. It’s all I needed to get my creative juices flowing; all I needed were paint, paper, and glue.
Those three things are what got me started on the path of becoming an artist, and those three basic materials are a reminder of that initial passion and thought. They are also the three things I use the most in my work today. The great news is that over the years I experimented with various paints, such as watercolor, gouache, acrylic, and oil. The range of papers I used expanded, and my favorite kind of gluing substance went from Elmer’s glue to acrylic matte gel.
Now, I can go back and answer my first question: what is paintpaperglue? paintpaperglue is a creative outlet of mine. It’s a way I can express myself as an artist when the designer in me wants and needs to take a break. The name paintpaperglue will always embody who I am. I may or may not always use paint, paper, or glue, but it will always bring me back to what I know I was created to do!