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Check Out Seojin Yook’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Seojin Yook.

Hi Seojin, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
I grew up with strict parents in Korea. When I was young, my parents wanted me to study well, but the only thing I could focus on without doing anything else was drawing. As I liked painting, I naturally fell in love with movies and animations and naturally hoped to enter art university. However, entering an art university in Korea made me feel a big failure, and as I took the art university entrance exam, I became frustrated and suspicious of what I wanted to do.

At that time, fear of failure reached its peak. The failure to enter a college for the second consecutive year made me unable to do anything. For some time after the second trial, I could not hold myself together because trying again for the next round of the exam came to be as a fear. I pondered about the reason why I want to go to a college in the first place. And one evening, I met a family friend studying in the United States. She actively suggested to me to study abroad as her educational experience in the United States was exceptional. And she gave me the number of the art institute to help me prepare.

Clouds of thoughts and mixed feelings drenched me day and night. I was unable to make up my mind and also commit to making a decision. I was scared to go to a different country to study; however, at the same time, I was thrilled about the endless opportunities that I may encounter outside of this small world. I took the time to think about who I am, what I like to do, and what I wish to become to create a portfolio that can explain myself in detail.

Accepting failure is tough. However, it strengthens my inner and outer life. There will be greater failures and struggles for me in the future, but this was an opportunity for me to fail and get new opportunities and grow. If I hadn’t failed in Korea, I wouldn’t have had a chance to study in LA now.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
My failure in Korea was an opportunity to come to LA, but I also faced even greater difficulties while studying in LA. All international students go through it, but the problem was English. In my early 20s, when I lost confidence in speaking, I became a really shy and quiet student. I’m an illustrator who has to do storytelling and deliver messages. But I was always anxious that my intended message would be misrepresented, and it always took longer to prepare than others. It was a year and a half since I came to the United States, and of course, broken English problems are inevitably difficult, but I was really desperate to see myself having difficulty in basic conversations. But the more embarrassing and shameful situation I experienced, the more I could find myself struggling to survive here. This difficulty is natural because language study is something I have to do for a lifetime, and I hope I can enjoy it when I look back over time.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
Most of my work is based on my experience and the cultures I have experienced. But among them, the work I remember the most will be “Swimmer”. Before COVID-19, my biggest hobby was swimming. Swimming was a big challenge for me, who was afraid of water, and it was also a pleasure. So, I produced a surreal image under the theme of swimming, and while working on this work, I was fascinated by the sunlight and water in LA. Just as David Hockney was into water painting, I had a lot of fun creating various media such as videos, zines, moving posters, and AR filters when I worked on this. At this time, the work was meaningful and precious to me because my daily experience was a great inspiration for my work. And before that, my motion works were mainly stuck in the subject of Korean elements, but while doing this, I was able to focus more on myself and seemed to have studied the visual style that I wanted. Experimental, surrealism, escapism, this style is always a welcome for me. I will focus more on motion tasks such as branding and title sequences in the future and try to become an expert in this field, but this work was the first step I think as a creator who creates images before motion designers.

Do you have any advice for those looking to network or find a mentor?
I think ACCD (ArtCenter College of Design) teachers are the biggest mentor for me. Of course, it is important to learn how to work professionally, how to speak, but I believe school’s big role is to be able to get a relationship between teachers and fellow students. In particular, in the motion graphics field, there are many studios and workplaces in LA, so entering art schools in this area seems to be the most convenient way for me to do networking. Or, in this stay at home era, online mentors such as School of Motion and The future can be very big mentors for students studying branding or motion.

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Image Credits:

Seojin Yook Yerin Cho

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