Soh Yeon Yuk, born in 1988, in Seoul, South Korea, is a Southern California-based artist freelancing in concept art and character design. Find more of her work at lenayuk.com.
You’ve said you have a large, loving family back in South Korea. Why did you move to the U.S., and what do they think of your dark subject matter?
My family used to live in the U.S. until I went to college. However, as you already know, everything doesn’t work out as expected. There were some big family issues and lots of things fell apart. So everyone except for myself moved back to South Korea while I was still in college. Actually, my life was pretty good when I was growing up. I couldn’t ask for a better family. No one in the family looked at me as a weirdo for having weird taste. They always supported me and believed in me even when I was drawing all the violent and creepy stuff.
You’ve also said that you used to want to be a coroner. What happened to that dream? And does it figure into your art at all?
I moved to U.S. when I was in seventh grade, and I barely spoke a word of English. I literally wasn’t even able to read and understand Harry Potter. So obviously studying for the medical path was close to impossible. Basically, I had to let go of my dream and make compromises.
I just love the human body in the general sense. How they are structured, how they move, the shapes, texture, the inside and outside. Every single part of the human body is beautiful in my eyes. I think that’s the reason why I draw lots of gory illustrations. Like many other illustrators, I simply like to draw things that I find are beautiful.
Can you name some of your influences?
The Silent Hill video games, Rembrandt, and Michael Hussar.
Do you draw ideas from fiction?
I love old fairy tales. Those stories are so cute, yet always have some extent of creepiness too. I get so much inspiration from the “pretty but creepy” concepts of old fairy tales.
You sing death metal, is that right?
Haha. It’s just a hobby. I sing death metal at karaoke, just for fun and to release my stress.
Can you tell me about your Howl’s Moving Castle pieces?
The Howl’s Moving Castle concept art was for a college class project. The project was based on the original Howl’s Moving Castle book with a twist of my own. For fourteen weeks, we were to develop a new set of concept art based on this.
You’re very young and yet you’ve worked professionally in quite a variety of artistic fields, from branding to storyboards and character design. Do you see yourself continuing with the illustration and painting that you’ve established here, or moving on to another creative endeavor?
Simply put, learning new things is fun for me. I’m going to continue what I’m capable of, but while I’m doing that, I also want to try different things that are new to me, such as motion graphics, 3D modeling, packaging, etc.
What are you working on right now?
I’m working on my sketchbook now, and I just started on a new concept art project for my own version of Red Riding Hood.
What is your dream project?
One day, I’d love to work on the concept art for a feature animation, based on my original story.
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