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Illustrations as Art

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THOMPSON INFLUENCERS X SOYEON KIM

Soyeon Kim is a Korean-born artist and educator. Recipient of the Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Illustrator’s Award, Soyeon has published five children’s books, including You Are Stardust and Wild Ideas. We talked to her about the process of illustrating children’s books and what’s on the horizon for 2019. You can follow the progress of her upcoming project on Instagram.

How did you become an illustrator?  

It was during my fourth year of university. I had a series of dioramas that I created with a figure called Jane. These were the first dioramas that I made, which I showcased at Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition. During the exhibition, Mary Beth, the editor of Owlkids came by to see my work and after the show, she asked me if I would be interested in illustrating a children’s picture book, You Are Stardust. And this is how I became an illustrator!

What is the process of illustrating a picture book? Does the story come first, or the idea, or the images?

The process of illustrating a picture book starts with a manuscript. When receiving a manuscript, I discuss ideas with the editor and designer we talk about artistic direction. Based on that discussion, I create thumbnail sketches. Once those are approved, I move on to rough sketches. When it’s time for the final art, I build diorama frames in the wood shop. After the structures are complete, I move on  to drawing and painting. Each piece is cut and assembled using fishing line inside the dioramas. With the finished dioramas, we spend a day or two with a professional photographer. The final photographs are used as illustrations of a picture book.

What’s been your favorite project?

It’s always hard to pick a favorite, but if I had to pick one, it would be my latest project, You Are Never Alone. There were so many things that I can create with so much details and hidden treasures. It was a lot of work, but I loved every bit of it!

What does Toronto offer its visitors that no other city can offer?

When families and friends visit me in Toronto, I love taking them to different neighborhoods of the city. Toronto is the most multicultural city in the world, and each neighborhood represents a distinct culture.  

What are you excited for in 2019?

I am excited for the publication of You Are Never Alone and the exhibition Illustrated Dioramas, which will showcase selected dioramas from You Are Stardust, Wild Ideas, and You Are Never Alone.

 

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