Friday, June 10, 2016

Interview with author- illustrator Jean Kim

Jean Kim is an Korean illustrator living in San Francisco.
She won the SCBWI Portfolio Honor Award at the NYC Winter Conference in 2015 and the Portfolio Award at the 2014 SCBWI Spring Spirit Conference.
To learn more about Jean’s work, you can visit her website:

I have followed her work for a few years and am always inspired by her beautiful technique, playful characters and sense of wonder. 

© Jean Kim 
I am very happy to share with you an insight of Jean’s process and her work:

Q. Where do you find inspiration for your illustrations?

I get inspired by most things in everyday life, especially from conversations with people. It may be  friends, family or sometimes even strangers. For my personal works, I create my work to express stories of loneliness and alienation from different experiences and relationships. This is why I tend to ask people about their loneliness, and their stories become my biggest inspirations. 

© Jean Kim 

Animals are one of my biggest inspirations too. For my children's book projects I like having animal characters better than human characters. I love their unique shapes and their pure and simple emotion.

© Jean Kim 

Q. Can you describe your process? Which are your favorite tools?
I use mixed media. Currently my favorite tools are pencils and pen & ink. (I get excited every time when I try a new medium) I love tools that leave special texture effects on the paper. 

 I start my drawings with a black and white layer, using either graphite pencils or pen & ink. In my approach, I gently rub pencils on cold press paper or do a cross-hatching technique with a pen to create textures.

Then, I scan my drawing in a high resolution in my Epson scanner and add a color layer in Photoshop. I color the illustration with a Wacom tablet. 

© Jean Kim 

Q. Congratulations on winning the 2015 SCBWI NYC Honor Portfolio Showcase! How has that experience helped you with your career in children's book publishing?
Thank you so much Ana. It has been over a year, but it still feels like yesterday. Receiving an award from the SCBWI conference was such an honor and means so much to me. I believe that this honor gave me strength to believe in myself as an illustrator and kept me dreaming.  

© Jean Kim

 After I graduated in 2014, I decided to go to one of the biggest conferences in NY (SBWI), it was a huge challenge for me. When they were awarding honors, I couldn't believe my ears! After the conference, I was contacted by several good agencies, including my current agent Rebecca Sherman from Writers House who truly understands my voice and my work. 

© Jean Kim 

Q. What are your favorite children’s book(s)?

I am a huge fan of Shaun Tan. 'The Arrival' is my favorite. I also love 'Chester' by Ayano Imai.

Tan, Shaun "The Arrival" Arthur A.Levine Books, 2007

 Imai, Ayano "Chester", Miniedition, 2007 

Q. What projects are you working on right now?
 I am currently working on two picture book projects. The first one is called 'Wide Awake Bear' (Harper Collins), written by the great Pat Zietlow Miller. The second one is called 'Rabbit Moon' (Arthur A. Levine Books), a story written and illustrated by myself. Both will be published in 2017 and I feel very lucky to be working with these great publishers.

© Jean Kim 

Thank you so much for the inspiration Jean!

Ana Aranda writes/illustrates for children and creates murals.
You can find her work at 
these different locations:
Twitter: @anaranda2

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