Interview with Eunji Jung
How and why did you decide to pursue illustration as your career?
I was a graphic designer but I have always loved drawing and making art. I had a dream of becoming an artist since I was a little kid. As I grew older, I studied graphic design and enjoyed working as a graphic designer, but I always knew my true passion was creating art for children. It reminded me of a child’s innocence and my own childhood imaginations which makes me nostalgic and warm. I started preparing my portfolio for the market for a year, and now I am a professional illustrator.
Did you attend art school or undertake any other formal artistic training?
- I graduated with an advanced diploma in graphic design from Humber college in Toronto, Canada. It was a three year program that covered advertising, packaging design, info graphic, illustration, web design, etc. After graduating, I became an in house graphic designer.
Who or what have been some of your major artistic influences?
- I used to watch and read a lot of Japanese comic books and animations. Miyazaki Hayao’s films(My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away, Kiki’s Delivery Service, etc) definitely influenced on me a lot and I still love his films!
Which books from your own childhood really stand out?
- I used to have a classic children’s storybook collection that my mom bought me. I think the art was illustrated by a Japanese artist (don’t remember who it was! ). The illustrations in the books were so beautiful and I read them over and over again just to look at the artwork. My favourite one was Ariel the mermaid. Even though I was 3 or 4, I still remember the sad ending!
Do you keep a sketch book?
- Yes I do! Keeping a sketchbook is the best way to stay inspired and record great ideas. Sometimes I just draw on sketchbooks to release stress scribbling flowers and random shapes.
How many times do you tend to draw a character until you are happy with it?
- Each time is different depending on how well and detailed the texts describe the characters. If the scripts describe the character very precisely, it wouldn’t take many sketches to build the character I’m happy with. Otherwise I would draw many pages to get the right “vibe” of the character if the script describes abstractly.
Take us behind the scenes and describe your studio / workspace.
- Whether client work or personal projects, I always draw at my desk. I have a simple workspace. It’s just my desk iMac, Cintiq, and my iPad. There are some notebooks, pencil cups, and small sketchbooks (and some random junk) at the corner. I love drawing in traditional media but I don’t collect art supplies much. I always keep my planner right beside me. It helps me figure out what I’m supposed to be working on and what to do next quick.
Outline your dream project.
- My dream project would be illustrating a picture book of Anne of Green Gables in traditional media. I’m a huge fan of Anne of Green Gables, I love the story and all the characters in the story. It makes me so happy even just thinking about it.
Talk us through the process of creating one of your latest illustrations or books.
- The book I recently illustrated was released a few months ago. It was about the Korean traditional family culture. I read the manuscript that the publisher sent me over and over to visualize all the characters. Then I started sketching the scenes I needed to illustrate. Once the sketches got approved, colouring started. I use Adobe Photoshop to both sketch and colour the entire artwork. The designer from the publishing company sent me feedback on it and asked me to revise a few little details such as facial expressions, background colours, etc. Once the colouring got approved, I sent them final work files. Then after a few months, the publisher released the book. It’s always so fulfilling to see the books I illustrated at book stores and online shops!
What are some of your favourite subjects to draw?
- Children! I love drawing children with all kinds of different emotions and environment. I feel like drawing children reflects my inner self a lot.
What advice would you offer someone just starting out as a children’s illustrator?
- Keep putting yourself out there! I think advertising yourself is as important as building portfolio pieces. Manage your social media accounts wisely, be consistent, and build your brand.
How important is it for you to be part of a creative community of people?
- Being an illustrator can be very lonely, and make you easily isolated from the world because of work environment and lifestyle. To avoid that, it’s very important to be part of a creative community. I always try to get involved in some online and offline communitiesto get informed of the industry, trends, supports as well as to network with other creatives and share thoughts and opinions.