Isolation has been the hot topic on everyones lips since the drawn of… COVID-19. From the outside many peoples lives changed in what felt like earth-shattering ways, but for some the greatest change that unraveled was the one that came from within.
When we chatted to Jeong Hwa Min, a South Korean born illustrator and painter who has been based between Berlin and her current residence in Gerswalde, Germany since 2005. One of the most surprising things that she revealed which she likes that most people hate, is being alone – “I guess I wanted to move to a strange place where no one knew me and I could focus on myself.”
For most freelance artists, a solitary existence consisting of countless hours spent in the studio – conversing with clients via the internet – was and still is the norm. Meaning that externally not much had changed. In fact, when self-isolation started, memes began circulating amongst artists with the catch phrase: ‘ Welcome to my life’. However, what gradually emerged for some was the realisation of the importance of the more important things in life – like the aspiration towards conscious living, spending time in nature and not harming the environment. “These days what has been most important to me is that I live a conscious existence… Where I learn more about myself and try to be happy and satisfied every day. Living a quiet life as one with nature without causing it harm, is one of my biggest aspirations.”, says Jeong Hwa.
Form, light, and shadow in the natural world act as primary sources of inspiration for Hwa. As she uses a combination of airbrush and painting techniques in her works pairing sharp angles with soft edges, pastel hues with black and white textured gradients. The result of these juxtaposed pairings consist of works that wonderfully oscillate between the 2D and 3D picture plane.
“Since I was a child I dreamt of writing and drawing picture books”, says Jeong Hwa, “This last year has been an opportunity to change my perspective and way of thinking over a longer period of time.” With her focus currently on creating a long story picture book – our conversation with Jeong Hwa reminds us of how these days, thinking towards the future and being mindful is an artistic practice worthy in and of itself of mastering.
Hi Jeong Hwa, what’s something that people might be surprised to know about you?
People will be very surprised to know that I stopped smoking.
You are originally from South Korea but you have been living in Germany between Berlin and Gerswalde for some years now. What made you come to Germany? And can you tell us a bit about what you studied?
Since I was a child my dream was to write and draw picture books and I hoped that one day this dream would come to life.
I studied illustration at Universität der Künste Berlin. In college, I learned how to make books completely independently and that was all the knowledge that I ever really wanted to gain from my studies.
I had lived in Berlin since 2005, until a few years ago when I moved to a small town in Germany called Gerswalde. I guess I wanted to live in a strange place where no one knew me and I could focus on myself. That’s the main reason why I live in the countryside still right now.
What are some things that have been making you think recently?
These days what has been most important to me is that I live a conscious existence… Where I learn more about myself and try to be happy and satisfied every day. Living a quiet life as one with nature without causing it harm, is one of my biggest aspirations.
How has your work as an artist been impacted during Corona and what have you been doing to get by?
Most of my communication with clients has always been via the internet, and I spend most of my time in my studio. So on the surface, there is not much difference before and after corona. That has been one side of things but then on the other, there were no exhibitions or opportunities to travel. So it was an opportunity to change my perspective and way of thinking over a longer period of time. For example, I am trying to draw a long story picture book. And I’m thinking about what I want to draw in 10 or 20 years time.
You utilize airbrush techniques in your work and you also make paintings and illustrations. Can you break down some of the materials that you use for your paintings, and which programs you work with to create your illustrations…
I paint using the technique of airbrushing, hand painting, and photoshop. Sometimes I start with hand drawing and finish with Photoshop. Or sometimes I sketch with Photoshop and finish with airbrush and paint. I apply each technique organically.
Can take us through what a typical day in your studio looks like?
In my studio I have created a work environment that basically revolves around a swivel chair. Computers, scanners, paint and pencils are always on hand. The whole table is full of plants, vases, cut-out paper, inspiring photos and books.
What’s one thing that you love that most people hate?
What’s the first book that you read this year?
History of Finnish Design.
Name three artists that have been inspiring you lately
If you had a spirit animal which animal would it be?
I’ve never really thought about it… I’m not sure.