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.
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 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 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.
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.