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Meet Juhee Park of California Institute of the Arts in Santa Claritia

Today we’d like to introduce you to Juhee Park.

So, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
It was a long while ago when I was 14 years old. I used to be bullied by many of classmates for no reason and aimed to be alone in the class. I was struggling my life and already knew of bitterness of life amid by this dark society. I still remember that it was heartbreaking moment for my parents come-and-go even though I was young. Based on my faith for Christianity, When I met God for the first time with many of comfort, I prayed over 2 hours in the prayer room that I want to forgive not just all those people who bullied me for once and conceive the big vision to spread the truly devoted love for all the neighborhood I must help out and share the sincere love.

After this great milestone of my life, I reminded things that I had a deep passion over 14 years of my young life. I used to draw on my test paper, study materials or whatever the paper material was based on the daily basis. I was also willing to force myself on filming and lead people for my film in the flow of the story and visual shots I imagined. I decided to make films that would send people the true message of love and devotion. and that was the moment when I pursued my career as a film director and artist in my age 15.

With all the boldness I dare to try for the punchline of dream big, I was literally looking up for the best animation school in the world and I found this school in the google search bar called “California Institute of the arts”. I never knew that there was an actual school founded by Walt Disney and it was just love at first sight. However, there was boundaries beyond the dream as always. From finance to family issues, I just needed to take these bitter moments until now.

Regardless of the unbelievable tribulations and agony I suffered, I never stopped to draw and imagine the film sequences I wanted to render and share for the people with true message I could send for them. I got rejected by Calarts for once and the last in March 2018. Rejection was a big matter of my life because my three years devotions on all my purity of the art and prospering creativity were rejected by a big step for me. With all the regard of these first and the last failure I experienced, I decided to humble myself and learn in a different way. And I realized that there was drawing foundation required from the animation basis rather than to be experimental. I just kept constantly drawing and never stopped approaching myself to the perfection.

I used to draw all around the city in South Korea regardless of where I am. It was always crowded places and that made me think to draw my best and have the intense focus with nervous mindset while gazed by thousands of people. Sometimes I was being chased by random strangers due to the reason of their privacy and confronted arguments with strangers as well. Sometimes there was truly artists who admired my artworks and respected all the artistic aspect I had regardless of their ethnicity, country and personality. With all these mess of life experiences, I got accepted with lots of maturity I built up throughout these precious memories. But I knew that this was just beginning. It was March 2019.

Great, 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?
I remember one of my past experiences. When I went up to the freshman year in the high school, our class teacher started to inquire each student’s desired college lists and the pursuit of our career in the future. I told my class teacher that I want to go to California Institute of the arts, but I still remember that she was being skeptical due to the low productivity of my first semester grades and other classmates around me laughed around of me. Nobody trusted me about my dream. Only a few of my friends believed my sincere goal and devotion on my faith.

But I didn’t really care whatever people say. I just started to draw and enjoy what I do. It may sound like cheesy fairy tale story, but I used to observe and take these observations into I imagined all the surroundings I see in various forms of character and sang with those beautiful creations in my dream. People looked at me like weirdo but I didn’t care. Because I was in the peace at the moment and so happy to know that I can do it even though the boundary was supreme.

There was also lots of parental disagreement and arguments. Based on my culture and grown-up experiences in South Korea, my parents are usually supporting the way of life direction to be stable and consistent. My mom was actually an art teacher and she graduated from the art school. As I remember, my mom was living extremely poor life in her whole young life after my grandpa got into car accident when she was three years old. But she never ceased her art life until she had to quit it forcefully regarding her financial issue and pregnancy. She didn’t want me to go for the art field due to her traumatic life. But I never gave up drawing life drawing everyday and when my mom saw all the passion and sincere heart toward my vision, my mom was wordless and eventually began to support me step by step. She never taught or mentioned me any of art foundation or even minor things of art neither. But she guided me with critiques that I needed to go through and never ceased prayers for me day and night.

My dad didn’t trust in me until I actually got into the school. He used to neglect me or worry of me with many of risky factors that were assumable. I didn’t want to show him with failures for a long while neither. What I did with all these conflictions was just rushing myself with intense focus for my first step. And I made it. There were also some other problems our family confronted at that time and still it is. The big loss of finance was expected as being an international student and during my high school years, there was nobody who taught me about art and I was never affordable for the art academy or private tutor in my entire life since our family was in the middle class and the reality wasn’t easy that this small country family support a daughter to study in United States.

There was a big tragedy on our family and it’s still ongoing. My mom was diagnosed as liver and stomach cancer in June 2018 and at that time, I already got rejected by Calarts in March 2018. I felt myself lots of guiltiness and unbearable depression in my heart. I was extremely blackout and heartbroken but there was only one thing I could do. And it was my mom’s only wish and prayer for me. She wanted me to be freed with my artistic value in a better place. I started to draw crazy until I reach out to the best level of my drawing skill. I got into the school as the first step of my goal but I’m not finished with my mom’s wish until now. It’s still a big challenge of my life. Life is endlessly full of tribulation.

Once you dream big, you always risk and cost. Sometimes there will be unexpected tragedy of your lifetime will come over, sometimes there will be the moment of victory will come over. Sometimes there is a big chunk of tribulations you need to be strong to confront with. That’s what I experienced pathetically.

According to my life history, life was full of bitterness for 80% to taste 20% of great sweetness.

Among all the ruthless journey I experienced, I focused on only one thing so far and this is always the one thing I foresee to remind for my future self as well.

“Once you decided to dream big and risk it all, yourself is the matter of life to ask and enforced to achieve.”

I was involved in many of wonders and sadness during my lifetime but what I need to embrace with all these hard moments is to train myself harder.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I’m in Character Animation program (BFA) currently in Calarts.

I used to be the freelancer for the illustration during my figure drawing workshop life, fine art artist with voiced up messages about my personal viewpoint of the world, and experimentally film my own character with uniqueness in my past years from high school life.

Currently, I’ve been known of detailed uniqueness and own drawing skills throughout Character animation community but also known for being positivity among the overall community I know of including the other metier students. I don’t understand or even don’t know if I deserved to be called so, but that is lots of graciousness and beauty I could receive.

But one thing I want to clarify is this: I’m still challenging myself with big life because I’m here to draw life, film the art by true love. I’m not pursuing the success of my own but for people and all the neighborhood who I must love and embrace.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
The recent one I reminded is that I accomplished my first-year film. I didn’t entirely finished due to the personal reasons but the film is tribute for my mother and most of all, God almighty our Heavenly Father.

The film is called ” The big inside out’. and the story is based on a baby bird who chose to take the journey for the far away destination, leaving her sick mom with many of heavy burden of the heart. The story tells you that the journey of big vision always follows up the big tribulation. But there is a big moment you have to be ruthlessly strong and bold like an eagle in the wilderness.

It’s expected to be released at the end of September 2020.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Rafael A Lopez, Elaine Dimal, Isac T Urbina, (personal photo) Young Sil Kim (my beloved mother)

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