This month, we are going to learn more about our Seoul- based fashion artist, Minjee Kang.
How would you describe your artistic style? What influences and inspirations contribute to your unique creative vision?
Minjee: It's whimsical & colorful. Big eyes, long lashes, thick lips make my girls in illustrations look unique with my drawing style. Normally, fashion magazine shots, street fashion shots or brand campaigns used to be my inspirations. But nowadays, I'm so into AI fashion images which have a very extensive possibility for any imagery shots to look real. The fantastic images give me so much inspiration.
Signature drawing style of Minjee Kang.
Are there any specific techniques, mediums, or software that you specialize in or prefer to work with? How do these tools enhance your artistic process?
Minjee: I use only Photoshop & Cintiq Pro only except live drawing events. Photoshop brushes can make all medium effects with no need to use real art materials on papers or canvas. Editing easily is a huge advantage of the digital tools when I work. There are lots of different styles in the fashion illustration field. Before I decided my current drawing style, I really tried every single style with Photoshop (The process was easily possible because it's digital work using only a computer & drawing tablet simply.) and found my current style is just perfect to me.
Have you ever had to make sacrifices in your creative vision to meet a client's needs? If so, how did you navigate that situation?
Minjee: I normally accept all requests from clients. I believe when the project is for commercial purposes like selling products, the clients (especially marketing teams) know much better than artists about marketing. They know exactly what normal people like, what their potential customers want. Artists sometimes could be dogmatic about their art styles. But when their work is connected to sales or promotions with brands, they should make sacrifices in their creative vision balancing the clients' requests.
How do you handle constructive criticism or feedback on your artwork? Can you share an example of a situation where feedback helped you grow as an artist?
Minjee: It was not about feedback or criticism to help me grow as an artist. It was trying all different styles everyday every month within a short deadline. My first client work was fashion magazine work. It was when I was 22 years old. Every fashion editor has a different drawing concept when they request illustrations for their magazines. Every editor showed me all different sample drawings of other famous illustrators. They asked me to refer to the styles to make new illustrations for their magazines and actually that made me study and practice all different drawing concepts, methods and processes. While I was doing it for a long time, I found what style I loved and what process I preferred. And finally, I decided my style.
One of the most popular books by Minjee Kang - "Birth of Fashion” in 24th printing.
How do you balance creativity with commercial viability in your work?
Minjee: I still don't. When it's for individual work without commercial use, I don't care about commercial viability. (But I found people still love it and purchase my art prints.) When it's not my own work and it's for commercial purposes with a client like a brand or a company, I totally follow their vision. Of course, they contact me because they like my own style but they still have their exact own vision and concept that they want to mix with my own style. Important thing is mixing them (my own style + their concept) well. How to combine them well? I don't know how to say it. It's possible just from long experience. When I was a newbie in this field, I couldn't control it. But while you struggle with it for a long career, you can naturally learn how to do it.
What do you hope to achieve in your career as a fashion artist, and how do you plan to continue growing and evolving creatively in the years to come?
Minjee: Nowadays I'm slowly moving my art life from digital work to Korean traditional painting. Digital work is still a very attractive and perfect process to me since I've been using it for almost 20 years. But at the same time, I sometimes found myself feeling bored because I used it too long. I needed a new challenge which is not possible with digital tools. And I found oriental painting very very attractive. I still work with digital tools and it's still a large percentage of my life to make money. Also, I'm not willing to stop my current digital work process. But apparently, my interest now is in oriental painting with a fashion vibe. I hope I can strike a balance between my digital work and my new art challenge, and I hope they will make my art career more colorful, varied and enriched.
Minjee at her Exhibition on Oriental painting with a fashion vibe.
Minjee Kang is a highly accomplished fashion artist and illustrator based in Seoul, South Korea. Her passion for fashion began at a young age, as she watched her mother and aunt pursue careers in art and fashion. She went on to study fashion in university, where she honed her skills in illustration and design.
Over the years, Minjee's work has gained international recognition and has been commissioned by some of the biggest names in fashion and beauty, including GUCCI, Tiffany & Co, Lancôme, GIVENCHY, and Nike. She has also worked with major publications such as Vogue Russia, Cosmopolitan, and Harpers Bazaar.
In addition to her commercial work, Minjee has authored and illustrated several books on fashion, including "The Fashion Book" and "Big Fashion Book: Minjee Kang's Fashion Illustration Class". Her books offer insight into her creative process and provide tips and techniques for aspiring fashion artists. Minjee's unique style of illustration combines traditional techniques with digital technology, resulting in vibrant and eye-catching designs. Her work often features detailed renderings of clothing and accessories, as well as stylized depictions of models and celebrities.
Today, Minjee Kang is considered one of the most influential fashion illustrators in South Korea and beyond. Her work continues to inspire and captivate audiences around the world, and she remains a true innovator and icon in the world of fashion illustration.