Capturing the Flowing Life on Canvas
Capturing the Flowing Life on Canvas
  • Jo Yoo Suyeon ,Han Kim Yeongju
  • 승인 2024.06.03 09:59
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Do you tend to observe your daily surroundings? The day goes by quickly if you don't pay attention to them, but when you look back on each moment, even the smallest things create a variety of impressions. Those moments can be transformed into works of art depending on the way they are expressed, whether through writing or painting. This SMT reporter met author Min Seung-ji, who tells her own stories based on observations of daily life through affectionate writing and warm drawings.


Before the interview begins, please introduce yourself.

Hello. I'm Min Seung-ji, an illustrator and a writer. I majored in visual & media design at Sookmyung Women's University (SMWU) and I am currently working on picture books as a freelancer. I like slow, vintage things and spending time with warm people.


Your experience as a visual and media design major at SMWU seems to have influenced your decision to become an author. We would like to know the reason why you decided to pursue that career.

I've always wanted to be a painter because I love spending time drawing. But I started to wonder if it was the right thing for me and if I really liked it. Even after enrolling in art university, I still didn't know what I wanted to do until my senior year. Then, when I had to prepare for my graduation exhibition, I took an illustration class. I thought illustration was just about making pretty pictures, but the professor showed me a lot of references and I realized that there was a lot of scope in it. Based on the things I learned in that class, I made a small illustrated recipe book for my graduation exhibition. This experience of drawing and telling stories about what I love made me realize that this is what I want to do.


Do you have any memorable experiences from your time in school related to your major?

At a time when I should have been focusing more on preparing for my employment, I completely immersed myself in the graduation exhibition. Even to make a small book, I had to run around to paper shops and printing houses in Chungmuro. One day, I thought to myself, "Will there ever be another time in my life when I can devote all my time and effort to my work?" That thought made me understand what the phrase "hard work but fun" really means. I also think that working with my classmates and preparing for graduation was one of the highlights of my college experience.


Since you are active in both fields of writing and drawing, we would like to know what you think is their appeal.

I've been drawing for a long time, and journaling was the only writing I do, but after I finished an entrance exam art class to get into art university, I felt like I had no idea what to draw. There were so many people who were good at drawing, and I felt like my drawings were nothing in comparison. I thought about quitting, but I think I wanted to continue to find a way to do 'my own' drawings. Then I realized that what I wrote in my diary could be the subject of my paintings, and that could become a story. Writing and painting have different fascinations, but they constantly influence each other and are more powerful together.


Looking at your work, it seems that you work on a wide variety of subjects without any restrictions. What are your sources of inspiration?

I'm always looking around me to make sure I don't miss the little things that people do, and I take notes when I see something interesting: kids playing in the playground, elementary school students stopping to talk while riding their bikes, a shirt that's been ironed the night before, a piece of cake left over. I listen to the stories that the smallest, most insignificant things tell, and I'm inspired by those things.


What are some of the challenges you've faced as a freelance writer and how did you overcome them?

Before I published my first book, I was very worried about whether anyone would listen to my story. I started with the determination to write my story, even if no one cared, but sometimes my mind wavered and I wanted to give up. However, I didn't want to spend most of my time doing something I didn't love. So I kept going, and I was lucky enough to publish my first book and get a studio. Even though I achieved that, I felt more pressure than joy: could I really call myself an author? I worried about what others would think of me. But now, I've decided to slow down, enjoy my days, and cherish the time I spend in my studio focusing on my paintings.


Your illustrations seem to have the characteristic of expressing warmth by using watercolor techniques. We wonder why you mainly use watercolors and if there are any techniques you are interested in other than that.

Watercolors are the most familiar and easiest medium for me to work with, so I naturally tend to use them a lot. In SMWU, I mainly used computers as a means of drawing. Then, suddenly, I wanted to draw a comfortable picture that anyone could draw along with, so I decided to try another method. The method I found was watercolors and I still enjoy using them. They have the advantage of being able to give various vibes depending on the spread of water and paint concentration. Recently, I've been using colored pencils and pastels, and I'm also interested in oil painting and iPad drawing. I'm practicing constantly so that I can express myself in various ways.


You also have participated in many other works as an illustrator, such as Promise with the Sea and Rachel Carson: Awakens the Spring of Silence. Can you tell us about a piece of work you've been involved with that has impressed you?

Sikhye and Tina's Paper House are particularly memorable for me. Sikhye was my first collaboration with another artist, so I was very nervous and eager to do my best. Unlike my previous work, Some Day of the Farmer, it required a higher level of perfection that the process was difficult, but the feeling of satisfaction after completion was indescribable. And Tina's Paper House was a book I worked on when I was pregnant, and I remember sketching and coloring during my morning sickness before giving birth. Unlike my other works, where I put in more effort after Sikhye, I wanted to take a more relaxed approach to Tina's Paper House. Thanks to the editor and designer I worked with, my opinions were respected and I enjoyed working with them, which was an invaluable experience that helped me get rid of the fear of working in my comfort zone.


As you are currently raising a child, we are wondering if you have had any experiences during this period that you want to include in your work.

The most surprising thing was that I realized every day how immature I am after having a baby. More than anything else, I am feeling my world is expanding. When I got my dog, all the animals all over the world used to look like my dog, Cookie. Now when I see a child, they're like my child, and even when I look at an adult, I think, "Oh, that person must have been an innocent baby when he or she was younger." One day, I'd like to include my parenting journals in my artwork, the ones I used to write word by word while watching my child.


In addition to your work activities, it is impressive that you are conducting various cultural activities such as lectures and drawing classes for children. We wonder what direction you ultimately want to go as an author in the future.

I'm very clumsy and nervous about doing things outside of my work. Even if I'm not good at presenting, there are people who listen to my stories, so I have the courage to talk and get the energy to do new work. I want to create something that will be remembered generations later, such as a family drama or a family sitcom.


Finally, please share some words with Sookmyungians who are trying to realize their dreams.

There's a great part of an interview with the author Park Wan-seo that I really like: "I sometimes see people who borrow other people's sensibilities without being very desperate, but I have to wait until I get better." In my 20s, most things were new to me, so I was able to experience and feel more. Even if it's the same thing, I felt really different about it as a teenager, in my 20s, and in my 30s. You may think you are clumsy and feel a lot of things, but don't let those feelings slip away and make sure to reflect on them. What if you practice being patient and wait for yourself to become mature?



- Sookmyung Women's Univ., (B.A.) Department of Visual & Media Design (2015)
- Main prize at the 3rd Wow Book Festival (2017)
- Some Day of the Farmer (Published 2018)
- Some Bread Days (Published 2020)
- Duck's Spa (Published 2020)
- Tina's Paper House (Illustrated 2021)
- Bread's Story (Illustrated 2023)


Jo Yoo Suyeon / Editor-in-Chief
Han Kim Yeongju / Cub Reporter

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