[UNSCENE MAGAZINE] Featured Visual Artist: JimmySK Interprets Korea
Animal heads blended with female bodies standout among thick, black backgrounds. Stencils of dragons, temples and anamorphic images adorn the walls. T-shirts hang waiting to be given designs differentiating them from their boring, one-color existence. When all these facets meet in an artistic sphere, it’s JimmySK’s studio.
“Making images has always been part of my life and I cannot remember a time when I wasn’t doing it”, comments the artist. He describes his past in detail and narrates how art has always been central throughout his development, as an artist and a person.
Around age 16, it was inevitable he would follow art throughout the final years of school education. “My teacher was fantastic. He got me taking risks and introduced me to color and oil paints whilst enforcing the idea an artist should always be seeing and drawing”. Inspired by an early Jackson Pollock, he spent 2 years developing mammoth work of “explosive, anatomical oil paintings”. Focusing for such a long time on those paintings exhibits his dedication and love for art.
From then art would always be central. He even took a job cleaning the school art room to spend more time creating artwork then actually cleaning.
In university, graphic design was the focus. The “beautifully dirty” styles of Vaughn Oliver and David Carson inspired him on this path, but “it turns out most Graphic Designers hate Oliver and Carson and love rulers and puns”. With graphic design a thing of the past, illustrations would be the settled specialization, including two years of drawing, painting and engraving wood.
For a long time, wood was my medium but then due to some personal turmoil, I found myself alone, scrolling through art journals and blogs day and night. Then I came across the work of French stencil artist C215″. This would serve to inspire his work from here forward. “Suddenly, there was this guy making beautiful intricate faces within the confines of a stencil. I became obsessed with the science of stencils and for the first time considered the medium as a way for me to paint”. Stencils were now the tool of his trade.
“From the first few small stencils I made, I quickly fell in love with the ideals of public/street art. There is nothing like creeping around deserted streets at 3 am to put up a piece or standing on a road side in full view of passers by painting or knowing that just around a corner you’re going to see the tattered remains of some work you did months ago, or the heartbreak of going back to get a daytime shot to discover a building owner has pulled your work down before it got to see the light of day”.
JimmySK continues to create works in the studio during free time, but he prefers to work on the streets. The work is impulsively made and has a life of its own. On the streets, the work’s lifespan is left to destiny giving the image a life. JimmySK gives the image birth, but the rest is left to fate.
When arriving in Korea, the question of making art was never contemplated, but inspirations would be found through interesting means. The hustle and bustle of Korean life has led many to forget their values. Adults are shaped in their childhood with lessons from books, parents and peers. Korean fairy tales are lost more as each generation passes, but caught the eye of this artist.
“When in Korea I have the ability to balance artwork with my professional life. The country is constantly developing leading to new and exciting opportunities to expose artwork”, comments JimmySK. The fascination with Korean folk tales developed and it was time to put interpretations of these morals into art.
“Their rich heritage and enthralling stories interested me, but they seem to have a weakening influence on society nowadays. I want to have fun with my art and create works people can enjoy artistically and socially”. Balancing the fun and artistic is not always so easy, but he looks at the characters central to the story. “I give the characters a modern twist. The ancient tales are still relevant today and I want to make art enjoyed by all, whether Korean or any country”.
While he loves doing art, he can’t be a full-time artist. “I could never be a full-time artist. I feel I may lose motivation to make creative, fresh art and I would never want my work to become bland, boring and unoriginal”. Balancing art as a hobby with personal and professional life gives him the motivation. Creating this balance is The Recipe for success, as it will keep him inventive and inspired as an artist.
JimmySK is the artist’s moniker but also a collaborated effort with Katie Stefani to bring art to the Korean and international community. Through participations at Kunsthalle Platoon’s Market in Apgujeong, they found Koreans to be interested in his art, but less willing to inquire. Creating a studio and getting the audience involved and understanding the process is their aim.
His current exhibition is showing at Nami Island in Chuncheon east of Seoul. The exhibition focuses on screen printing and will run until the middle of May. In addition to making artwork, JimmySK will hold a series of screen printing workshops to teach and inform people of the process. Anyone interested in partaking in the classes can e-mail the artist at: . A change of studio venues is currently in progress, so updates on the artist, his works and studio can be found at (www.jimmysk83.wordpress.com.)
For more information on the artists, one can visit the website at www.jimmysk83.wordpress.com
By: Daniel Vorderstrasse
* Taken from “Unscene Magazine”. If you have any comments, concerns or are looking to contribute an article, please e-mail: or contact the appropriate editor. Letters to the editor can also be sent to .