Today we’d like to introduce you to Heejung Kim.
Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I am grateful to have been nurtured by a creative family and I know it influenced me a lot more than I realized. From my grandpa telling me stories about his camera shop and my dad teaching me how to use my first DSLR to watching my mom illustrate and paint, I unknowingly picked up those creative aspects from them. It’s a major part of who I am and still shaping who I am becoming. I was encouraged to go to art school (which stereotypically does not happen in an Asian household), and I was happy to be accepted to the Savannah College of Art and Design’s fashion marketing program with a minor in photography. I picked up graphic design by watching other friends and practicing on my own.
From South Korea, I moved to Hong Kong, Savannah, and eventually to New York City, where I got my first start and moved to California to continue my creative career.
Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Smooth roads would be quite nice, but it’s the bumpy ones that keep us awake, right? (haha) I struggle a lot with my identity as a creative, and I hope I’m not alone in that feeling! I think this identity struggle comes from the fact that for the longest time, my self-worth and creativity were tied to my employment and career opportunities. I’ve had my fair share of “sorry, but we moved on with another candidate” and “your qualifications aren’t what we are looking for at this time,” and it’s really hard not to take it personally! It also doesn’t help that my visa status presents itself as an additional obstacle. I’ve seen countless talented friends who weren’t able to stay in the United States due to their status, and I know for a fact that it wasn’t because of their lack of ability but the unwillingness of employers to give us a chance. Because of these difficulties, it’s so important for me to remind myself that I am creative. I am capable of doing amazing things and I am so grateful for my journey.
Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I am a multidisciplinary creative helping brand bring their content ideas to life. I love to collaborate with cool creatives and make cool things! I think what sets me apart from others is that I’m a strange jack of all trades. I’ve done a little bit of everything, from helping produce photoshoots and assisting bigger campaign productions to shooting product photography and creating marketing assets for digital campaigns. I’m grateful to have had multiple diverse experiences to see where I excel and constructively assess where I lack.
Currently, I work from home with an agency as a marketing designer and art director. At the time of this interview, I am most proud of the work I am doing with Dare To Roam, a new accessories brand my team launched with Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter and entrepreneur Ciara. It has been rewarding to see the brand from its early stages, helping build the brand from the ground up, from brand ideation and prototyping of our hero product to seeing a collection of products in a span of a year. It makes me excited to see what new projects I’ll get to work on in the near future.
Can you talk to us about how you think about risk?
As an immigrant who is dependent on a visa to continue my creative career, every move that I make is a risk. Moving to Hong Kong, to Savannah, to New York, and now to California were all major risks I took to continue to increase my opportunities and seek my potential as a creative, knowing that by doing so, I am leaving my immediate family and things I’m comfortable with. I’ve made risks in changing employers to learn something new and try something different, knowing well that if it didn’t work out, I’d have to go back to my home country. I’ve made risks asking employers to change policy or direction for issues that could affect either our creative mission or the culture surrounding my coworkers – or even our greater community. If that conversation didn’t work out, it could put me into a difficult position. I don’t think I’d be where I am today without taking those risks. I constantly have to decide whether to adhere to the status quo or be honest to my principles and creative spirit – it’s hard, but I think I do better personally and professionally when I take those risks to express myself.
Profile Picture / Minnow Park