I was born and raised in South Korea and then, when I was twelve, my family moved to New Delhi, India. My experience in India was one of the most memorable part of my life and it colored so much of my childhood because everything was so new! Despite the language barrier at first, I loved living in India; eating lots of mangos and well seasoned Indian food, cooling down from the heat by swimming or running in the rain, learning Indian history and language, traveling in the sleeper trains, making new friends from diverse cultures, going on adventures on bumpy rickshaw rides.
After five years, my family had moved back to South Korea. This time, I had to get used to living in Korea and make new friends all over again and it gave me a bit of identity crisis.
When I graduated, I decided to leave to Portland, Oregon for an art school called Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA). The 5 years I spent in Portland has left a big impression on my most current self. I became the illustrator that I am today because of what I learned at the school. I also got to make so many friends and I miss how wonderful it was to be surrounded by a whole school full of artists.
Eventually, I’ve come to understand that home is not a physical place but the community I feel attached to; friends, family, and other small but wonderful relationships I foster when I nest in a certain place.
It sounds really simple but I dedicated a lot of my time to art simply because I loved it. Before you realize, the time you spend working on your craft definitely adds up! Formal education is helpful for building the foundation of your drawing skills but there’s so much more after that - finding your style, your inspirations, managing your own studio, learning to make art your career, talking and explaining your art coherently to others, continuing to practice and explore different methods of making, etc.
I currently have a weird lifestyle due to being stuck in between transition. I hope to return to the U.S. with a work visa but until then I don’t have to pay rent or food expenses at my parents’ place here in South Korea. I’m saving some money to get ready to move across seas thanks to my parents. In terms of hours, I’m working full-time and it’s a constant hustle. Most of the time, I work all days of the week but sometimes I take a break for a whole week. If I were to be independent again, I’d love to have a side job where I can leave the house and also earn some stable income, no matter how small.
I want people to get a warm and positive energy from my work!
Moving to NYC last minute before my 1-year work visa ended was not planned very well but I got to meet so many cool people and I was the most productive at the time because I knew my time there was limited. I worked and lived efficiently and it led to some good outcomes later on.
I’ve ran around NYC trying to find my sister (my only family in the U.S.) to ask her for help paying rent! At the time, it was only a year after I’d started working as a freelance illustrator and I was definitely not making enough money to live in the city. During the 3 months I lived there, I was anxious every time the deadline for rent came.
One thing I can share with illustrators who are still students…Use your school’s resources to the fullest! My art school was so gracious and generous with printing and paper bills so while I lived near the school, I was so reliant on having all the fancy tools right there along with teachers who would kindly help out if I had any questions. Once I graduated, I really missed the privileges I had as a student.
When I first graduated from art school, I couldn’t figure out the cost of my commissions. I’ve honestly talked to my teachers back in art school for some help figuring out how pricing works. I was also recommended to use Graphic Artist’s Guild Handbook of Pricing and Ethical Guidelines for all things general about freelancing as an illustrator! The book is a huge comfort for whenever I’m facing a new type of project.
Life is wild and nothing goes the way you plan!
Either under pressure for a deadline or when I’m in a good mood.
I love just staying home at night to read manga and webtoon in my bed
I love staying as naked as I can in the house (mostly end up in a loose shirt and underwear)
I love collecting old things - I wish I had a house of my own to really start a collection though.
To learn more about Subin Yang, please visit www.subinyang.com
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