READINGS / DPI MAGAZINE
Q1: Would you share something about yourself with us? Like your educational background, your homeland, your career, or anything you want to say.
I'm from Busan, located in south of my home country South Korea. Right now I’m traveling in Russia after passing through China and Mongolia, and I’m working on some projects from other countries as well. I didn’t go to an art school, but I learned a lot about art and I got plenty of inspiration while traveling. That’s also why I started my job. I really love traveling and drawing what I see around the world. I always felt that this job would make my life better and happier than any other things I can do in Korea.
Q2: What make(s) a great food illustration, depending on you? Is it the color, the composition, or anything else? What are your secrets to cook food illustrations?
When I try new local food on a trip, I’m very excited by it, and careful to keep it in my memory. Sometimes the quality of the local food is the only reason I decide whether or not to stay for a long time. In fact, my love for food is a big reason why I’ve been to Taiwan several times and why I was planning to live in the country for a couple of years doing my art. We can find some good international restaurants everywhere, and they serve very interesting cuisine from foreign countries, but it is still pretty hard to capture the exact same taste which you discovered in the original countries themselves. The same recipe doesn’t make the same dish if a cook uses different ingredients that originated in different lands. The unique culinary experience of each place makes me better appreciate the local food and gives me good inspiration to draw it on the table. I consider these to be amazing moments, and I don’t want to miss them. If I discover a historic or folksy food, it pushes me to open my sketchbook every time.
Q3: What material, technique, or tools do you use when creating? Name their brands or specify their qualities if you have preferences.
In my usual artwork, I use watercolor and pens on paper. I normally draw food with my pencils and paint it later when I can find the time. I do quick sketches because I don’t want to have to eat cold food after finishing my artwork. I’ve been using the Korean watercolor brand ‘Shinhan’ for a long time but it’s just a personal preference. I think it is very ordinary brand for anyone who wants to start making art in Korea. For the brushes and papers, I try any kinds of tools wherever I can find them in the foreign countries where I’m traveling. Papers are especially diverse, and are the most important material for watercolor artwork. I like many European paper brands which make good quality watercolor papers.
Q4: What is the food illustration artwork you’ve ever done that make you most proud of? Could you tell us more about it?
I often look back on my first sketches for food in Europe in 2014-5, and these sketches always remind me of friends I was with, places I’ve been to and tastes I experienced. At that time I was traveling on my own and wanted to keep myself busy with something. Drawing food was one of the most satisfying things I did that year, and sharing the pictures with people around me added something extra beyond simply enjoying the art. My sketches made people smile and laugh. This is something we can’t buy and get without effort. Now I’m working on a Taiwanese food sketchbook, based on my visits in 2015-6. I think it will be my next best collection of food artwork for sure.
Q5: Who are your clients, to name some?
I worked for some Mexican food magazines and a food business company in Italy which have been covering dishes and writing about restaurants for the last couple of years. I also worked with companies, magazines and design agencies like Garmin, Adobe and a Norwegian in-flight magazine, as well as Matte in New York.
Q6: What are your taste for foods? Do you have a favorite dish, or follow some special diet for any reason? Are you adventurous or conservative when ordering from a menu? Do you like exotic foods and which are?
I like well balanced food like most people do, such as meat with vegetables or seafood with good spices. I’m not extremely adventurous for all kinds of food but I would order anything I haven’t tried yet when I go to a new restaurant. I’ve liked most food I had so far, like Southern Asian food including spicy Thai, Vietnamese, Malaysian and Indonesian food, Indian food, lots of Korean, Japanese and Chinese food, and Italian and Mexican food as well. But I would love to mention that I liked the Ethiopian meals I had in Thailand. They were truly exotic and made me want to try authentic versions if I have a chance to visit the country some time.
Q7: What’s the impression you want to give your audience by your food illustration?
With everything that I do, I try to add a dimension that a photograph cannot capture all by itself. A chef sees his work as a kind of art, and I try to respect that perspective when I paint. My aim is always to bring out, or highlight, the individual character of my subject, and help the audience see what I see – and maybe add a little extra magic if I can.
Q8: Do you taste the foods before illustrating them? Does their taste influence your works? How?
Probably tasting the food has to come later than sketching them, as my sketches aim to depict how the food looks and how it is presented on the plate. I’m not looking for carefully designed dishes by the chef, but I appreciate their natural look as much as their deep and rich taste. It definitely affects my artwork when I paint on the sketches, and I can later add nice notes about the story of food and the whole experience as well.
Q9: Do you enjoy cooking? Do you think there are some relation between being a good cook and a good food illustrator?
Of course I love cooking and have a baking license. I don’t cook every day on trip but I enjoy cooking with friends when I stay at their places. I don’t think there is a deep correlation between a good cook and a good food illustrator, however if someone loves food a lot, they probably have an interesting perspective on it. For me, a good cook and good illustrator both create art in their own way.
Q1: Where is your hometown? What’s the representative food there?
Busan, South Korea. There are some typical types of Busan food called Dwaeji-Gukbap which is a pork and rice soup, and Milmyeon which is a cold noodle that people in Busan enjoy eating in summer. Lastly, Ssiat hotteok is a sweet Korean pancake stuffed with seeds. These are the most popular kinds of local food for people from other cities in Korea.
Q2: Where do you live now? Could you recommend your favorite restaurant there for us?
I recently lived in Bangkok, Thailand. There are so many good night-markets to visit if you’d like to try Thai food. It is hard to choose which are the best. For foreign food, I recommend the Italian restaurant ‘Bacco’ near Thong Lor BTS station.
Q3: What’s your signature dish? Could you introduce it for us?
I often cooked a pizza called ‘Sunny Pizza’ for my friends when I stayed in Australia. I topped it with plenty of ingredients like seafood, bacon, onions and olives on it and decorated it with a sunny-side-up egg in the center. All of my friends wanted to have a piece!
Q4: What’s the most wonderful food you’ve ever tasted in your memory?
It is my mom’s food. She is terrific cook and I love all the food she cooks. Probably her seafood pancake would be the most delicious food I’ve ever had.
Q5: Could you recommend some good movies, books or TV show which is about tasty food for us?
Movies: ‘Big Night’ from America, and ‘Jiro Dreams of Sushi’ as well as ‘Tampopo’ – both from Japan.
Books: ‘The Omnivore’s Dilemma’ from Michael Pollan.