Tell us about how you became the woman you are today. Where did you grow up? What moments in life have influenced your character most?
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.
A lot of women believe they need formal training in order to succeed as a female Artist. What’s your take? Did you have a formal education or are you self taught?
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.
How do you define your creative gig? Full-time career or side hustle? Explain why you’ve chosen one over the other.
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.
What is the message you're sending into the universe with your work? Why do you feel so strongly about said message?
I want people to get a warm and positive energy from my work!
Share an experience that started out as a complete disaster but looking back turned out to be a magical opportunity.
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.
What’s the most difficult financial hurdle you’ve had to overcome while running your business? Get specific!
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.
Big or small, what’s the single best money making tip or piece of advice you can share with up and coming artists?
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.
What tools, apps, websites, blogs, books, or podcasts help you the most when it come to financials?
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.
What do you know for sure?
Life is wild and nothing goes the way you plan!
Finish this sentence. I find myself most inspired to create when I am…
Either under pressure for a deadline or when I’m in a good mood.
Name 3 of your guilty pleasures.
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.
Name 3 Artists you would like to see featured on Hola Gwapa next and what you love about them
Anindya Anugrah (instagram @_phantasien) I absolutely love the ethereal quality of the illustrations as well as the color palette and the amount of detail that goes into each artwork!
Linda Liu (instagram @lindersliu) The artwork by Linda is all so warm and so fuzzy and they look so carefully crafted like a precious hand-made item.
Sophie Page (instagram @ladle_gull) Amazing artwork made from all sculpted or crafted parts and elements! I love the artist's color palette and love their aesthetic for young greenery and nature.
To learn more about Subin Yang, please visit www.subinyang.com