PHOTOS FROM YOO
When you were a kid, the world that you saw in the picture book was made in her fingertips. From the paint writer Yoo Aero, little you could meet a red crab living in a mud flat and a man who finds the color that has the sky and deep ocean in it. Just with a small book, you could meet the world of the great designers’ works and everything you imagined. Look, what a wonderful world the picture book is!
SMT You majored in design while at university. Then did you decide to be a picture book writer since then?
YOO When I was a university student studying graphic design, I was deeply touched by Tomi Ungerer’s humorous illustration and picture book by Hanmo Sugiura who has deep imagination and philosophy. After studying various areas of visual design, I wanted to work in design related to daily life or advertising. After graduating from university, I got to work in designing children’s goods and this experience piqued my interest in a child’s world that is free without stereotypes. Although the publishing market for picture books was very small in Korea in 1970, I decided to major in
illustration during graduate school. In this time, I started to dream of becoming a writer of picture books and after marriage and becoming a mother, my career was begun in earnest.
SMT People think a picture book writer must be imaginative and pure to communicate with children. What do you think about that and what are the most necessary attitude and ability in your job you think?
YOO Although imagination should be basic in every artistic field, especially picture books are
a fruit of the combination of the rhythm between pictures and writings. Pictures in picture books have a writer’s own pictorial characters as a special language. Therefore, a good picture book has to satisfy two elements - a writer’s creativity (artistic value) and popular universality. To express visual language, writers should endeavor to understand child psychology. Therefore one of my efforts is avoiding adult stereotypes. After making a picture book, I have much time with children
checking what scene motivates them, and often reflect their thoughts in the next book. The fact that I can communicate with children makes me very happy and active.
SMT As I read your book, I can see the natural and traditional subjects so much and I heard you always travel. Is travel related to these subjects?
YOO Experiences of the writer’s new world or energetic life are delivered to the readers easily. I think that I should deliver the message based on exact observation and experience to the readers. Thoughts about how I can capture the children’s pure mind similar with nature always stimulates me. Therefore, I enjoy traveling in nature to satisfy these factors. After setting a book’s subject, I go on a trip to understand it. However sometimes travel to find nature is achieved for recharging the ideas, too. Work on a picture book makes me leave to another new world. Although working on it takes a long time, I love travel nature for these reasons. Although a lot of my books have shown
tradition and nature, from now I want to make great picture books that have more various subjects. I have interest in both traditional and modern things.
SMT What do you think of picture books foradults just like a fairy tale book for adults?
YOO Writing in picture books plays the role that shows the parts which can’t be expressed with only visual images. However, there are many examples that verbal parts are shown enough without writing, too. Sometimes when the writer thinks that writings disturb the stream of imagination, he omits the letters. Because of this fact that the letter can be omitted, I think there is no limitation of age in reading picture books. However, because the books considering adults first can be difficult to understand for children, there would be difference in subject. Recently, I want to make the picture book that can give pleasure, joy and comfort to the elderly.
SMT What can the university student learn from the picture book thought to be for children?
YOO Picture books are no longer the preserve of children. While reading the picture books which have various subjects and pictures, I meet very touching and pleasant books that I want to show to adults around me. I suggest reading the picture book for positive thinking, hopes, and dreams, or vitality in life to university students. Many talented designers, including worldwide designer Bruno Munari, are expanding their areas to the picture book. It means that readers can grow esthetic senses naturally as they meet worldwide writers’ illustrations in picture books without the need to go to exhibitions. Also, picture books give readers emotional comfort with the smell and touch of paper, and also provide familiarity and ease because readers can read it repeatedly. I want to recommend having a rest and breath of mind using the picture book to the young generation in a keen competition to realize their dreams. Even now, I give picture books as presents to adults around me with the message, “Sometime when you feel adult life is tough, open it….”