Today we’d like to introduce you to Tayen Kim.
Hi Tayen, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
This might be the most challenging question. I tend to have difficulty briefly walk anyone through my story in any comprehensible way to anyone.
However, I can say that I began drawing at the age of two, wrote, illustrated, printed and rented out my first book at 7, won a DGA award at a film festival for my animated film at 10, and then did an enormous number of things after art school, eventually bringing me to do storyboards for film and TV now.
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
It has not been a smooth road.
Having taken a path which ran through various industries, personal focuses, and geographical locations, at a certain point I felt behind in my growth as an artist during my 20s. That launched a decade-long search for what it is that I can actually do which will fit into the needs of the world we’ve constructed.
It didn’t help that I was unaware for most of my life that the deep, personal tension I had with the world was rooted in my great difference from the majority of those who built the world. I have a brain that has historically (albeit a short one) been described with the word “Aspergers.” Having no word to label the extraordinary chasm I always sensed between my experience and that of every other human I’d heard of, I often had limited tools to find how I fit into the needs of society– I believe we call this fitting in phenomenon “business.”
Therefore, though I’d done international work and did simultaneous interpretation for global organizations, I couldn’t apply to work as an interpreter, though I had a passion for and knowledge about depicting the human figure, I couldn’t work as a figure drawing instructor, and though I had been writing stories and papers since I was 7, I couldn’t work regularly as a writer. Something about the process of entering these fields eluded me, both due to the requirements set by the fields and due to my initial lack of commitment to those requirements.
All of my training and committed practice of my craft seemed insufficient for landing the kind of jobs I saw myself doing as a young artist.
It wasn’t until I built a community of creatives around me that I learned how to work with my brain in order to find those needs in the world which I can fill and present myself as an appropriate candidate to help.
Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I suppose I usually tell people that I’m a storyboard artist since that is through what I make the majority of my money. And I do love it. However having the amount of interests and passions I have, I wouldn’t say that that is all that I do.
My true work, for now, I’d say, is in telling stories. My innate interest is in humans. Having the brain that I have, human behavior, motivation, and experience have fascinated me and have been the study of my life’s work. Therefore I’d say that my specialty is in depicting them.
I love to draw my study of human emotions and their progression, as well as human relationships and dynamics. This manifests in my regular figure drawing studies as well as instruction (I currently teach figure drawing and storyboarding at Otis College of Art and Design).
I’d say that my deep focus on the details of the human experience and how it is expressed in the human form is what sets me apart from others. However the actual difference, as with all accurate descriptions, would be best communicated through visual evidence. There are a multitude of incredibly masterful draftspeople who depict the human form, and the distinctions between them might surpass the boundaries of the verbal and literary platform.
Aside from through the discipline of drawing, my study and passions are worked out through my facilitating community among creatives. I host gatherings during which different sorts of artists may share and practice their craft in a safe, free, and connecting environment. I was on the board of directors with the Society of Illustrators LA and I work with a few museums and organizations (Getty Center, Academy of Motion Pictures, etc.) to create events through which local artists may be supported and featured.
How do you think about happiness?
I don’t think I put as much stock in “happiness” as it seems the general culture does. More valuable pursuits for me are joy, peace, and fulfillment, which I see as choices and as experiences which I create. However, the things which do help me experience these are as follows:
Good food (consuming and cooking), cats, discovering new experiences through travel or vicarious means, organizing and meditating in solitude, and spending time with loved ones.
My Aspergian brain is sensitive to stimuli, so things which entice my senses, like food and cats, remind me of what is good in the world. New experiences give my always-seeking-new-data brain an oasis from stagnation, and order and processing give me rest and energy.
Whatever I do in life is ultimately for the benefit of those I love, so spending time with them allows me tremendous joy.