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Jungyeon Roh: The Q&A

By Peggy Roalf   Monday December 9, 2013

Q: Originally from Seoul, Korea, what are some of your favorite things about living and working in New York?

A: I love New York’s Upper East Side for living and working because it’s famously safe, charming and classic NYC. Central Park and renowned museums never made me bored living here, and I love the yoga studio a few blocks away from my home. I return to Seoul every year and working from there is also another favorite thing. Refreshing my working environment between two big cities gives me inspiration as an artist.

How and when did you first become interested in art and illustration?

I spent most of my time drawing since my childhood, and found my interests in illustration when I decided go abroad to study in America. The great teachers at School of Visual Arts [SVA] made me more passionate about illustration. 

What was your first commercial assignment?

Bitch magazine’s series about food consumption right after I graduated from the SVA BFA program in 2009. Thanks again to my very first art director, Briar Levit.

Dear Leader Dreams of Sushi, GQ, 2013 (detail)

What is your favorite part of the creative process? 

When I project the humorous side of my personality into the ideas, then get a call from the client who says, “Jungyeon, it’s hilarious!!!”

Do you keep a sketchbook? What is the balance between art you create on paper versus In the computer?

I don’t keep sketchbooks, and never liked doodling. But I have a blog called Miss Eggplant, where I post my personal work and other junk stuff of inspiration. I like drawing on paper by hand, also printmaking. I make my originals by hand, then follow with the silkscreen process. I wish I could be doing all my work in printmaking, but it’s not easy and fast. So the computer is a great tool for making quality work in a convenient way especially for illustration assignments.

How do you spend the first hour of your workday? What is your favorite time of day for working?

I spent the first hour of my workday with surfing the Internet to see what’s new, and get ready for what I need to do. I like working regular full time hours on weekdays and try to take evenings and weekends off.

What are you listening to? / What are you reading

I usually listen to WNYC while I’m working, also music of Sam Ock’s recent album, Move. I’m reading The Go-Getter Girl’s Guide by Debra Shigley and Please Look After My Mom by Kyung-Sook Shin.

Volkswagen, YouTube Europe, 2012

Who and what are some of your strongest influences?

David Sandlin for my art, Yunjin Kim for my inspirations of being an ideal Korean woman living in America. I love Hip Hop since I was in middle school and yoga became another forever influence in my life. I’m interested in Korean-American culture as well, but always the strongest influences are from my family and our food.

Did your participating in the AI32 LIVE Cover Project have any spillover into your studio practice? Do you recommend marathon art projects for inspiration or redirection?

I really enjoyed the AI 32 Live Cover Project more than any other event I have participated in, and it was a great opportunity to create human figures with complete artistic freedom. Working on a project alongside the top artists, designers and art directors in the field couldn’t be a better experience, and I was surprised to see such a variety of styles and different ideas. Drawing from live models in a limited amount time was a challenge outside of my comfy studio, but it was truly inspired. I strongly recommend this kind of studio marathon rather than any illustration-related party.

Has social media been a boon for self-promotion? Or do you have methods you’ve always used that still work?

I’m not a fan of social media outlets, and don’t really believe them. Possibly because I drew Mark Zuckerburg’s portrait for the cover of the Village Voice? But as an illustrator, I need a method to quickly and easily show my work to the world while keeping my personal life private. When I got Facebook Asia as a client, they offered me to make a fan page. It has worked well and was what I needed.

What advice would you give to a young illustrator who is just getting noticed?

Be yourself and believe in yourself. There are no rules to follow for being a great illustrator. But be honest, polite and work hard. The most important thing is to keep your body healthy: eat cleanfoods and work out regularly. Where there is a will, there is a way.

Today is Sushi Day, SVA, 2008

Jungyeon Roh is a New York-based illustrator who hails from Seoul, Korea. Her colorful, imaginative work brims with humor and personality. Drawing on both Eastern and Western experiences, Roh’s work, primarily in silkscreen, was selected for AI28, AI30, AI31 and AI32 as well as the Art Directors Club annual andPrintmagazine’s 20 under 30. The New York Times, GQ, McSweeney’s and Kiehl's since 1851 are among her clients. BlogMiss EggplantFacebook.

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