Yina Kim Studio Visit + Interview


Hi everyone! My name is Logan and I am the new summer intern at Rare Device. I was very excited when I was invited to join Derek and Kehau (RD's photographer and gallery coordinator) last week on a visit to Yina Kim's studio in Bayview. We got a chance to see in-process sketches for Slowly Rewind, new work from a collaboration with her talented boyfriend, Soojin and her sweet candy stash! Yina's current show at Rare Device, Slowly Remind will be up in our gallery until June 30. It is also available on our website.

Logan Evans: When did you start drawing these types of pictures and why?
Yina Kim: I was always interested in doing portraits, but I started to study more deeply into the voyeuristic view of people right after I graduated from CCA in 2011. I took a class about voyeurism and learning about the history, idea and psychology behind it really intrigued me.

 Found photograph and in-process sketch of Joanne

Found photograph and in-process sketch of Dad and I

LE: Why strangers and not people you already know? 
YK: I used to draw series of friends when I was in college but it always became problem when I drew too honestly or if I didn't draw some of my friends because their faces weren't interesting to me. I'm more into unique and unpleasant quality about people's faces and it's much easier to approach that with strangers than people I already know.

LE: When choosing someone to draw, do you look for certain characteristics in a person?
YK: All my portraits are more of an idea of someone than how they really look like. I enjoy looking for strange and unique energy in a person and try to draw the person as how I imagine that person would be. It's more of the abstract characteristic in a person I look for rather than physical.

LE: Which drawing of yours is your favorite and why?
YK: For some reason, I'm really drawn into Sidney and Lilian. I have a thing about uni-brows and people with lots of space in their faces with small features.

Found photograph and in-process sketch of Elliot

Found photograph and in-process sketch of Helena

LE: How does this series of your art compare to other series you have done in the past, in your opinion?
YK: In the Secret Knots series I did in 2012, I focused on creating believable imaginary portraits by adding little made up comments about them. The new series are based on real people but they can easily view as fictional characters because of the whimsical aspect about each portraits. However they both deal with my curiosity of strangers.

Kehau Lyons: What inspires you?
Yina Kim: My work is inspired by strangers and memories.

KL: What do you like to do for fun in San Francisco?
YK: I have a friend who showed me the world of gay bar and drag show. I think it's a shame never to experience the rainbow paradise as living in San Francisco! I've only been to one drag show but it was one of the most fun nights I had. I'd like to go again and make a story about drag queens (I have a huge problem always trying to relate fun to work).


KL: We love your new leather/canvas purses! Can you tell us a little bit more about them? What got you interested in making things other than illustrations?
YK: Photography has always been my other creative outlet when I wanted to take a break from drawing. But I realized photography is similar to illustration where I'm always focused on creating pretty images. I wanted to create something that's more tangible and functional that's not always about beauty. I started with making my own clothes then into making bags and accessories with my boyfriend, Soojin who is really good at making things. We've been working collaboratively under the name ODSY Workshop since 2011 and it just started to get more serious.

KL: You're in the process of moving studios. How does your workspace influence your process?
YK: I always worked in my room but I grew a bad habit of not going outside for weeks and my daily cycle was very messed up, so I got a temporary studio for two months. It was such a beautiful space, but the space pressured me to think I must create something grandeur and serious. I started to get stressed out so I moved everything back to my room again. I work better in a cozy and a low key environment where I can reach all the walls, maybe it has something to do with me being tiny making tiny work.


KL: What is a dream project for you to work on?
YK: I'm always working on my dream project! Whatever I do, I always try to have fun and keep my positive energy.

Derek Macario: What other artists are you liking right now?
YK: At the very moment: Aidan Koch and Jockum Nordström. I post all my artist crushes on my pinterest.

Yina lives in San Francisco and has more art that can be viewed on her website. It was such a pleasure to get the opportunity to talk with her and learn more about how she creates her work.

- Logan  

Photos by Derek Macario