Where did you grow up and when did you decide to become an artist?
I grew up in Seoul in South Korea. I always liked to draw and read manga as a kid. Comic books and animation always fascinated me. Later on, I wanted to learn how to become an animation artist, so I applied to animation school in South Korea. However, I felt that it wasn't quite the right path for me and after one semester, I dropped off that school and applied to Art Center Collage of Design in America. I knew it was going to take a lot of money and time, and many thought that I would have failed. But, I wanted to follow my heart and I thought that it is my last chance to throw myself into the bigger world.
Did you go to an art school or are you self taught? How did you develop your skills?
As I have mentioned above, I went to Art Center College of Design with an emphasis on entertainment arts. In those years I have learned a LOT of things: how to develop a fast sketching technique, multitasking my abilities, organizing my assignments, having a positive attitude at work, you name it. I have worked on many group projects as well that taught me how to cooperate and communicate in a team. It was truly an amazing experience, a place where I developed my skills in creating characters and backgrounds, as well as refining my painting and drawing abilities.
Have you always been supported in your artistic path or has it been challenging to let your family and friends understand your choice?
The first time that I mentioned my idea of pursuing an artistic career, most of my relatives and my dad disagreed with it because in South Korea, many tend to think that being an artist is a path for being poor, forever. But my mom believed in my passion and artistic skills. She tried to convince others to open the whole idea of me being part of Art Center Students. Since I wanted to prove myself as well, I eventually achieved the scholarship in school, which helped me to get their agreement. Now, that I am working for Blizzard Entertainment no one regrets my decision!
What was the strongest influence you had when you were growing up ( artists, movies, cartoons, comics etc.. ) ?
I grew up reading Japanese comic books and watching Disney and Pixar movies. All of these things influenced me a lot.
What part of the creation process is the most fun and easy and what part is the hardest?
I think the hardest part is starting stage. Since I want to explore a lot of things, I sometimes struggle while dealing with a new project or I have vague idea about the final illustration because there are too many possibilities. Once I get over that stage, the polishing stage is where I have most if the fun.
What is a typical day for you, and who are the people you work/collaborate with?
My life at the moment is the typical routine of an artist working for a studio. I am currently working for Blizzard Entertainment, working closely with art directors and other artists. I have a lot of fun there and I have great colleagues. When I need some feedback, they are always there to give me some inspiring advices.
What are some of the things you have learned from other artists who you have worked with or whose work you have seen?
While working for Blizzard, I have got really inspired and I learned many things from all the other artists working there. The main thing that I learned from them was how to balance out my life. I really love art and my job, however, sometime I use to over-focus and stress to much about it. There are tons of things that I can try and see in a whole world. Experiencing new things like traveling, making new friends and going new types of exhibitions brings a lot of harmony in my life. I think these new experiences have a very positive influence on me and also improve my art.
What is your long term career goal and what would your dream project be?
My long-term goal would be to become a production designer and an art director for feature films. And then later, I’d love to make my own films and inspire people with them.
Working for a company or freelancing: what suits you best? And why?
I love both. Working for a company helps me learn how to cooperate with teammates and give me stability. I like Freelancing as well because I have more freedom for example, I can pick and choose any kind of work I want to do. If have to choose one, for now I would pick working for a company because it gives me the chance to work and meet different people, learn and make new frends.
What advise would you give to an artist who is dealing with an art-block? How do you boost your imagination and keep yourself creative?
I think an art-block is something that everyone goes though at some stage of their artistic life. I struggled myself with it a lot. During that time, I was seriously considering of quitting art. I think it came when I was at a point where I felt sad with my work. No matter how much I practiced, I never got better. It got worse when people or myself started comparing my artwork with others. It lowered my self-respect and I felt like there was no hope to escape from that feeling. It all changed after my concepts were approved and I saw for the first time the final version of some 3d models based on my artwork in a company. It really encouraged me to practice and worked harder. Once I got inspired to work again, I started to study and watch my favorite art and movies and I kept drawing and painting until I felt satisfied.
Concept art, animation, illustration, comics, there are lots of choices. When you’re young, sometimes you know only one thing: you love to draw. What should a young artist take into consideration to make the right decision when choosing an artistic path?
I think it is great to experience diverse art fields when you are still young. Some of my friends come from other fields like transportation design or graphic design. Even if they didn’t major something related to animation or concept art, sometimes they have more ideas or skills in many unexpected way. Therefore, experiencing new fields has a lot of potential and can be even better than focusing on only one path.
Many art teachers and schools suggest to their students that a commercial artist should always work in one consistent style if they wish to have a healthy career. In your own experience, do you believe this to be true?
I have been told this before but some teachers have told me the opposite as well. I think you should do what you'd like to do. If you are working for a company, it would be good to follow the sudden styles that they prefer, but besides that, it would be great do something that makes you happy as well. Also, in my experience, companies also like artists having their own voice in their artwork.
Who are the artists who inspire you the most today and what are some of your favourite designs out there?
I always get inspired from Shiyoon Kim, Helen Chen, Dice Tsutsumi, Robert Kondo, Ryan Lang, Mathias Verhasselt, Woonyoung Jung and Jeff Turley.
We have a soft spot for hand drawn animation, what is your opinion about the future of this art form?
I miss hand drawn animation as well. I feel sad that we don’t really see it as much as before. Many grew up with 2D animations and we all know that there is something that 3D can never take place. I hope that it comes back sooner than later.
Social networks, crowd funding websites, print on demand online service, you name it. New media on the internet are connecting the artists directly with their fans like never before. In your opinion, how is this affecting the industry and what are the pros and cons?
I really like it. Even when I was younger, it was very difficult to find good reference or artists online. Now many people easily get great information through the Internet. I think crowd funding and social networking are great too because it gives people the chance to shares more useful information and learn different technique effortlessly.
Finally, Where can we see your art online and get in touch with you? How can we buy your creations and support your work?
You can follow me on Instagram ( @parkyw0203 ), Tumblr ( yewonpark.tumblr.com ) and you can also visit my portfolio website ( yewon-park.info ) and my blog ( yewon203.blogspot.com ).
Thank you Yewon :)