These days, people keep running without any relaxation, and they could eventually become exhausted. Then, people want to rest and find comfort in something. In this situation, there is one woman who can hold people's hands softly. This SMT reporter met Yoon Chohye, an artist who sends warmth out into the world through her drawings and writing. Let's hear her words that are simple but give a lot of strength.
Before we start, please introduce yourself.
Hello, Sookmyungians. I'm Yoon Chohye and I graduated from Sookmyung Women's University's Department of Environmental Design. I am an artist who works under the name of "Coniglio." Currently, I work in painting and illustration.
Is there any reason or motivation behind your decision to major in art?
When I was young, I always thought, 'I want to be an artist' in a vague way. This is the reason that I majored the College of Fine Art. I didn't know before that I would become an artist, although I graduated from art college. Finally, I ended up being an artist.
What was the most impressive activity for you when you were attending Sookmyung Women's University?
I worked as a Sookmyung Art Ambassador at the College of Fine Arts. I had to do a lot of assignments for my major, so I did activities that I wanted rather than related things. I participated in a program organized by the Sookmyung Cultural Center. It is a program that gives a chance to students to go to a sister school in a foreign country and exchange cultures with each other. In this program, I went to Senegal and taught Hangeul and promoted our culture there. Even though this program had nothing to do with my major, the reason I have remembered it for a long time is that I met many people whose majors are different from mine and gained various experiences. I still have a relationship with the friends whom I met at that time. It was the most valuable experience for me.
You majored in the Department of Environmental Design. Unlike your major, why did you start drawing illustrations?
It was a coincidence to start drawing illustrations. When I lived in Italy for eight years, I drew my heart every day in a diary format and uploaded it to Grafolio, where users can upload pictures and writing, like a blog platform. Since I drew pictures daily, the platform company suggested that I debut as an illustrator. It was 2015, maybe. After that, I released a series of illustrations as a webtoon and became an illustrator.
Choosing a job different from your major could bring some difficulties while you work. If you had difficulties, how did you overcome them?
I thought I had a disadvantage compared to those who had majored in painting because I had spent less time on related fields than they had. However, I don't think that people must walk the same path to success. There are many ways to achieve a goal. In a way, I am the one who succeeds by walking another way. On the bright side, I think my previous experiences will definitely help me in my career. Therefore, it is true that my work is not related to my major, but I could overcome it when thinking this is the work that I like.
You lived in Italy for a long time. Tell me more about your daily life in Italy. Why did you go there? Have you ever had any unexpected difficulties there?
I wanted to learn more about the design of Northern Europe because my major is environmental design, and Northern Europe is famous for interior design or furniture. So, I decided to go to Italy as soon as I graduated from university. Later, I also happened to be working as an intern in Milan for a while. At first, I was not able to speak Italian, so it was difficult to communicate. I can speak English fluently, but Italy is a country where English is not widely understood. To survive there, I had to learn Italian and challenge myself. I thought that learning a new language would give me a key to another world. If I think like that, it is fun to learn another language.
Your works reflect your childhood. Is there a reason that you especially draw about that topic instead of other topics?
I think my paintings play a role in helping me remember the days I have forgotten. When I draw them, I remember my childhood and add some imagination based on my memories. Thus, my readers sometimes tell me that they feel not only happiness or comfort but gloom and sadness too. They might feel the yearning for their childhood unconsciously. I appreciate them because they sympathize with my art.
In your work, there is a rabbit doll and a doll, Chuchu, that appear to be friends of the girl. What is the meaning of these friends appearing with the girl?
A rabbit is my favorite animal. So, my name Coniglio means rabbit in Italian. Also, when I was young, I liked a chubby doll made of cotton. For this reason, I started to draw a cute rabbit doll beside her. At that time, there was a Cabbage Patch Kid that had curly hair and all the kids had to have one. Remembering my childhood, the doll came to my mind. They are the girl's friends, but my friends, too.
In addition, you don't describe the girl's face. Why did you draw the girl like that?
When I drew my picture in a diary format, I drew the girl's face. However, after I made my debut as an illustrator, I decided to hide her face. I thought the fact that the girl's face was hidden would arouse the readers' curiosity. Thanks to this, they see my pictures and can insert themselves or their daughters into it.
It is special to impress many people, and one of the things that can arouse sympathy in people is your working style. Please explain your process for completing your art.
First, I sketch a picture with a pencil on paper or canvas and scan it to make it into a digital file. And then, I just layer and color it, using a computer photoshop program. Therefore, I usually use pencils while drawing, and only use a computer when I color. Since I mostly use a pencil to draw, it seems unnatural if I color impressively. Now, I have found the optimal level to harmonize between sketching and coloring. In the case of drawing on a large canvas, it can be boring to complete all at one time. At times like that, I work on several works simultaneously.
You love using a pencil when drawing pictures. Why do you prefer a pencil?
To be honest, the biggest reason that I use a pencil is that I thought I could not use a computer to draw well. So, I was reluctant to use it and instead used tools that I could handle well and liked. Therefore, I chose the pencil. Also, I think the pencil can express a simple but soft and warm feeling with its analog sensibility.
You published the art essays, But I Still Love You, For the Neverending Moment, and Today is a Day for Me. What is the most important goal that you pursued while being published?
The most important thing is to make the published books as similar to the original as possible. Because my essay's main focus is the pictures rather than the writing, I consider whether the picture looks pretty or whether the color came out the same as the original.
There are not only warm and cozy pictures but also words that could encourage readers in those essays. Where did you get the inspiration for this writing?
Sometimes, something that I want to draw comes to my mind. Then, I usually take a lot of notes using my phone or sketch simply in my mini sketchbook. Also, in my sketchbook, I write in a diary style. I don't do it like that every time, but I try to make time to take notes to remember. And I like words that can comfort someone, so when I write, those words come out without me realizing it.
You held your first solo exhibition, <Holding Your Little Hand> this January. Was there any intention that you wanted to express through your exhibition?
I want visitors to feel the intention that I work with a pencil. I always think it would be nice if the people who see my works could feel the warmth. It could be a disadvantage that my drawings are simple, but in other words, they could be easy to understand. Moreover, I hope they become pictures that can be remembered for a long time, not just something that can be forgotten easily.
This year is the Year of the Rabbit. As a rabbit is included in your paintings, we are looking forward to your work of the year. Do you have any special plans for your art or do you have a plan to change something?
From now on, I think there might be an exhibition once a year regularly. I'm preparing for an exhibition at the end of this year. In that exhibition, I plan to use other materials such as oil and acrylic, in addition to pencils. Also, I'm still planning it, but I want to proceed with small projects like independent publications.
You give people comfort through your pictures and essays. Especially to Sookmyungians, please give some advice to them.
I want to tell Sookmyungians to laugh more, experience more, and love more. There are not always happy things in the world. The world is not like a fairy tale, but there is only one life you can live as yourself. If you think like that, you don't have enough time to try to do what you love. And then, you can find something you can do very well, and you will have less regret if you fail. I want you to do as many things as possible, laugh a lot, and have a happy time with the people you like.
- Sookmyung Women's Univ., (B.A.) Environmental Design
- Accademia di Belle Arti Brera, Graphic Art
- Published 3 books, But I Still Love You, For the Neverending Moment, and Today is a Day for Me
- Held exhibition, <Holding Your Little Hand>