Today we’d like to introduce you to Melly Lym.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Melly. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I am 100% Korean, born and raised in Korea till I was about 14 years old. My Korean name is Jiyoon Lym. My mother made me take art classes since I was about five years old. But she never wanted me to be an artist. She just thought that these classes would make me more creative and help me succeed in the future. I turned out to be my mother’s worst fear, an artist. Growing up, I’ve always known my passion for art. However, I DESPISED drawing. I loved to make little figures with clay and paint with fun colors as a child. The art world in Korea back then wasn’t very suited to what I enjoyed doing. If you wanted to go to an art school in Korea, you would have to sketch things perfectly (with shadows, lighting). It just had to be perfect and I was the opposite of perfect. I managed to get out of Korea and study in the US by letting my parents think that I wanted to be better at English and wanted more opportunities job wise. My parents always thought I was going to become a doctor so they decide to send me away. Coming to the US all by myself was the best decision I’ve ever made in my life and it has opened many new doors for me. My art education in undergrad taught me how to be bold and stand up for myself. I did not have to make perfect art anymore. I was even able to move people’s feelings with my performance works. My parents were never happy with me becoming an artist.
One time they came to visit me in LA and found some images of my work where a part of my body was exposed. They ripped it apart that moment and almost sent me off to be a monk at a temple in Korea. It made me sad that my parents weren’t proud of the work that I put in so much effort but I had to accept the reality. I first started working with clay because I needed to show my parents that my tuition money was going towards something. I made little, plain plates and bowls in my classes and sent my parents pictures of those boring works. They loved it. But behind their backs, I was exploring crazy through performance art and letting myself out. I used ceramics as props for my performances. After coming out of undergrad, I wanted to take some time off from performance art and put my focus onto working in clay because the idea of making tangible objects fascinated me as with performance art it is a very short-lived thing.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Like many artists’ paths, my road hasn’t been smooth at all. Biggest challenges were getting my parents to accept who I am and accept my passion for art. My mother was never happy with the way I looked. Growing up, she dragged me to different weight loss clinics to make me lose weight. This was when I was only in high school. Then right when I went to college, my mom surprised me when I went to Korea for my winter break by forcing me to get a nose job done. She always said this is for me to meet a better husband in the future and my dad told me it was her way of showing love and care to me. It just did not make sense.
For the longest time, I believed in my mom because she is my mom and obviously she had a lot of influence on me. I was always conscious about my weight and did not have any confidence about myself. My parents would get mad at me for being quiet and not confident when it was really them who let me grow up this way. During college, I started finding my own voice and I am still now to this day. As my parents did not want me to become an artist, I am still struggling of ways to please them or to just cut them out of my life somehow. I still get nightmares about my experiences with my mom occasionally and the thought of my parents makes me anxious and scared. It is hard for me to feel this way towards my own parents and sad that I can’t lean on my parents for anything like other people do. But I’ve been slowly overcoming this with the help of my sister, partner, and friends.
We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
As an artist, I love to work with different mediums. I first began my art career as a sculpture student at USC. I loved working with fabric and made big scale soft sculptures while I was in school. Soon I found a passion for performance/installation art. I also make video pieces along with ceramics and painting. I am just everywhere! That’s probably why it’s been taking me so long to work solely on my ceramics business as I have interest working with multiple mediums/ forms. These days I’ve been trying my best to not get distracted with making other things and focus on my ceramics. My shop is called “Malang Malang” which means “squishy squishy” in Korean. I thought it would be funny to name my store squishy because ceramics is far from being squishy at all. (As a clay form, I guess it is) I put a lot A LOT of effort into each piece that I make which usually are vases. As many ceramicists focus on glazing their work, I put a lot of effort in painting my pieces instead. I think that’s what makes my work different because I treat my vessels as a canvas for a painting. I am best known for my charm vases, where I put chains around my vases and add little charms to them. Growing up, I always loved wearing multiple jewelry on my ears, my neck, wrists, and fingers. When I was making my vases, this thought came to my head how my vases should wear jewelry too. That’s how my charm vases started.
Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I am so lucky to have my friends who support my work and business. Their caring words are what gets me through the hard times. I am also grateful for my partner Andy. He motivates my creativity and always listens to any good or dumb ideas that run through my head. Having people around you who love you for who you are and accepts you for being you has been the best luck in my life and business.
- Large Charm Vase $85
- Small Charm Vase $65
- Bowls and trays $15-$25
- Website: mellylym.com
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: malang___malang
- Other: malangmelly