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Art & Life with Brian Yoon

Today we’d like to introduce you to Brian Yoon.

Brian, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
I was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest and picked up drawing early on as a way to pass the time while my family was constantly moving. Eventually, we ended up in Northern California and during my high school years, I began to take my art studies seriously. While my main focus at the time was automobile design, my friends and I would listen to a lot of underground hip-hop/electronic music and I would take notice of the artwork and merchandise that was packaged with the albums. Graphic Illustration became another form of self-expression that helped break the stricter rules of industrial-style drafting.

Towards the end of my college years, I interned with the group Far East Movement, doing graphic and web design work for their management company. Soon after, I was recruited by rapper Dumbfoundead and his manager at the time to kick off the company Knocksteady which was a Los Angeles based music, media, and apparel company. Both of these guys were, and still are, well connected to the LA music/culture scene and introduced me to many of the clients I still work with to this day.

During this time, I was still creating my own illustrations outside of my commercial work and in more recent years the line between my commercial and personal art has been beginning to blur. In the past 18 months, I’ve started to paint and am currently moving towards a more fine-art direction.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
I generally create images loosely based on folktales, myths, or religious texts. Once I find a passage or an idea that I think is interesting, I’ll start creating compositions and shapes to convey the emotion I felt while interpreting that story. These inspirations usually come from other images, music, or art theory books.

I’ll then take mental notes on what subjects and objects need to be shown to convey the original story to the viewer and myself and fill the composition with those elements. I try to stay away from a visual vocabulary rooted in pop trends in hopes that my art will stand the test of time. Ironically though, many of the color choices I make are often inspired by fashion, cartoons, and other consumer products that are very of their time. It is a fine line that I am still learning to walk.

My technique is heavily influenced by the graphic-art styles of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s; in the West, we had Art Nouveau and in the East was Ukiyo-e. Many of my favorite artists come from this period and I still find it fascinating that there were global art trends at the time even though communication was primitive compared to what it is today.

Above all else, I hope my paintings and illustrations outlive me and inspire others to create; to learn a set of systems and then to break them, to study their heroes’ heroes’ and to keep making when no one tells them to.

Choosing a creative or artistic path comes with many financial challenges. Any advice for those struggling to focus on their artwork due to financial concerns?
This is a very legitimate topic and should be taught in more academic settings. I currently balance my day between a full-time graphic design job and doing fine art in the evening. If someone wants to start selling his/her art commercially, I recommend working digitally; there is very little upkeep after initial equipment costs, production times are faster, and space requirements are minimal.

Salaries cap pretty quickly as an artist/designer. In my own observations, creatives tend to combat this in a few ways: joining a company that they feel fulfills them artistically as they climb the ranks but takes much dedication and perseverance, splitting their day between a part-time job and personal work which is probably the most secure approach but takes longer to see progress financially and personally, and lastly to go fully independent which I think most artists desire but comes with very high financial risk.

If people want to take their art practices seriously, my advice is to not become a starving artist but a frugal one and to make sure basic necessities are taken care of to allow them to be creative within their current circumstance, remembering to give themselves a buffer zone of consequence-free learning. However, the most important suggestion I can give is to create every day; let the work speak and people will notice.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Main photo: Noah Lee @noah249

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