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Meet Westlake Artist: Yura Kim

Today we’d like to introduce you to Yura Kim.

Yura, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I only decided midway through my undergrad at the University of Virginia that I wanted to devote myself to art and storytelling, so I’ve always felt like I’ve had a late start – the original plan was denial and pretending I was good at math. After getting my degree, I hopped on a plane to Cali and was fortunate enough to have friends willing to let me stay on their couches and in their closets. I landed a job in graphic design, something I had taught myself and had done mainly for fun, but soon left when I realized I should probably learn how to draw. Upon making that decision, I have taken various courses at Concept Design Academy and have been working on personal projects to develop my portfolio.

Has it been a smooth road?
I think it’s safe to say that most artists and creatives are not so lucky to have any sort of road, neither paved nor beaten, presented to them. Art is so personal and individualistic that any such road is laid out brick by brick for themselves. I was raised with the idea that “hobbies” like art should stay as such, so the mere thought that I could create something that was relatable or deeply meaningful to anyone beside myself I had never conceived. To find value in my own creativity and voice so belatedly in my life has by far been my greatest challenge. In fact, my two years of being in LA, confronting every doubt and ridiculous fear, overcoming rejection and finding strength in failure, has changed almost everything I once believed in. There will be more bumps in the road, but to have the opportunity to fail is such a blessing. I have never been more grateful.

What’s your outlook for the industry over the next 5-10 years?
As we are already fully aware, social media alone has done a lot to change connectivity in virtually every industry. In the case of illustration and the freelance game, this is no exception. Companies now seek out specific talents, while clients and fans pay for commissions and merchandise. Legitimate freelance businesses are created through process videos on streaming websites. Personally, what intrigues me is the access that ever-growing artists now have to diverse styles and inspiration, new views on life and types of expression. It’s encouraged major individual growth as we have boundless inspiration at our fingertips.

Nowadays, art is in much higher demand – everything needs design – and though the market is growing, the competition for visibility is as well. Ultimately, there’s no doubt the competition will bring out more interesting and inventive art than ever before.

What has been the primary challenge you’ve faced?
If at the age of five when I was drawing Sailor Moon on every available surface I had the insight to accept that doing so made me very happy, I probably would have fewer voices of doubt in my head today. However, soon after my days of drawing sparkling superwomen obsessively and declaring myself an artist, I was cajoled into believing a fulfilling career in art was unrealistic. Since then I’ve accepted what makes me happiest over what is viable and what isn’t, but the idea of reaching out to another person through something I’ve created is a great challenge of mine. My struggle now is to continue creating without any expectation or fear.

What would you tell someone who is just starting out?
Take classes at the excellent specialized schools we have here like Concept Design Academy and Brainstorm School, and network! Stay inspired by actively exploring new subjects and emotions. Los Angeles is home to so many amazing galleries and exhibits, both big and small, encompassing all ranges of illustration and fine art. By all means, take advantage by visiting galleries like Gallery Nucleus and major conventions like CTN Expo. Finally, Los Angeles is home to stunning views – stacked buildings, rolling hills, thrilling coastlines – so venture into new parts of the city and paint plein air with the pretty sound assumption that it’ll be sunny and beautiful all day long.

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