gallery by The Editors

The Seoul-based Illustrator on her stunning comics about social atomization.

reading time 17 minutes

Seoul-based illustrator Jye Kim describes her illustrations as “stories without words.” Their form varies — the prodigious Kingston graduate is trying a lot of different things — but they are consistently stunning, subtle, funny, and built around similar motifs and themes. Drawing with a tablet and by hand, Kim expertly renders people in motion. Her primary topic is the isolation of the digital age, but she treats it with a light, hopeful touch, often letting her characters (and herself) escape through daydreams. Below she shares her portfolio of beautiful escape fantasies, and explains what inspired her to make each of them.

O

Every illustration of mine contains a story, a narrative. I usually start with an idea that I research. O, for example was inspired by video games. I’ve always thought of video games negatively — young people getting addicted to playing — but then I found out that they could be very valuable for old people, expanding their social lives, giving them exercise. I’ve never thought of that before and I love doing something unexpected, so I made this story about two old people meeting through a game of Nintendo Wii.

Ouch

Ouch was inspired by a related topic. People living in cities hardly communicate face-to-face anymore, neighbors don’t know each other, and I felt a bit sad about that. This inspired me to create a fantasy about a businessman breaking out of all that and getting involved in a spontaneous game of badminton.

Day Dream

Day Dream is a story about men and women working in a boring office who suddenly start to dream together. Soon they take off on a swimming journey.

Doodling

Daydreaming inspires a lot of my drawings. When I’m riding the bus, I just look out the window and study people, their expressions, and the landscape around them. My project Doodling is a reflection of that process. I created it when I felt nostalgia for a childhood memory of sitting in math class just doodling in my textbook.

I’m always trying new ways of telling stories. ☐ is a project about breaking out of the traditional comic template, which is useful at first but sometimes limits the imagination. I made this book about chickens and burglars to illustrate this escape.

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