Kyung-Me is a 23-year old artist living in Queens, NY. Intricate, nightmarish and feminine, Kyung-Me’s scenes appear to be from a long gone century of strife and tragic romance. We featured her drawing “Rabbit Canal” in issue 13, and here we talk to Kyung-me about her process and her tendency toward melodrama.
What do you do when you’re not drawing?
I have been laying pretty low lately. I have been going on a lot of long walks. At night, I go to the library.
How long does it take to complete a drawing like Sen’s Fortress? Is it a therapeutic process?
Each of these drawings takes about 300 hours. The process has been very calming and enjoyable for me.
There seems to be some angst or darkness in these scenes. How is your work influenced by your emotional state?
Drawing feels passive to me most of the time. I feel very blank most of the time. When I sit down to draw, I am not really thinking about anything. I always listen to music and sort of fall into a trance. I think the drawings just end up being all the things I don’t really want to think about.
Some common themes in your drawings seem to be romance and tragedy. Is this coming from a personal experience? What draws you to melodrama?
I have always been attracted to sad stories growing up. When I was seven or eight, I read The Velveteen Rabbit and I couldn’t believe it. For those who are unfamiliar, it is the story of a young boy and his beloved stuffed rabbit. After the boy catches Scarlet Fever, all his toys had to be burned. Before the rabbit is about to be thrown into the fire, the rabbit escapes to the woods where he has a very existential time for many months. The rabbit questions whether he is actually real or if he is only real when he is with the boy. The rabbit is so sad because he doesn’t know and he misses the boy so much. After a long journey, the rabbit finally find his way back home. Through the window, he sees the boy sleeping with another of the same exact stuffed rabbit. Traumatized, the rabbit runs away and the story just ends there. I couldn’t believe there could be something so sad. It made me want to die. I don’t really know why I like these stories so much.
Are there stories behind the scenes you draw or is it random?
I like to think that each room has its own story that can be interpreted in any way by the viewer.
Your drawings are stylistically very Japanese-like. Who are your main sources for this style?
The drawings are directly influenced by the Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu.
Do you feel you identify with Japanese culture more than American or Korean?
I feel very much Korean. I am more attracted to Japanese art.
Let’s talk about the women in your work, who often have long blowing hair and seem ghost-like. Why do they look this way?
I have always thought long hair is so beautiful. In these drawings, I like the idea of the women being this beautiful victim type character.
I like your comic series Bad Korean. Is this autobiographical? It’s so different from your other work, with its use of color and humor. Which style do you relate to more?
The Bad Korean series is autobiographical. I think drawing this series has been my attempt to make light of certain situations. It has helped me realize how silly certain things I do are. Today, I was looking at the whole series with a lot of interest. I was laughing and enjoying the drawings, as if I was looking at someone’s work, not mine. It’s strange but I really don’t remember making the drawings. I guess enough time has passed where it’s just funny to me now.
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