Meet Soljee Lee. Soljee was born in South Korea, partially raised in the States, and currently living in Utah. She is an illustrator, graphic designer, and recent graduate from the Brigham Young University. Her work is recognized for its playful textures, flat colors, and clean design. She is also one of the contributing artists for the upcoming COSMOS Exhibition, and we are thrilled to present her new work, thoughts on illustration, and personal interests!
Hi Soljee. What does your workspace look like? what kind of things do you like to be surrounded by for inspiration?
My workspace is a plain old desk, just wide enough to place everything and anything I 'might' use in front of me- different media, books, pictures. . . I get the thrill out of making impromptu choices when illustrating!
Your work is very colorful and textural. Could you talk a bit about your common themes and sources of inspiration?
There are certainly themes that I am drawn such as death, obsessions, and twisted things - I tend to draw on darker themes. I like to muse on these in a delightful and lighthearted ways. I have definitely been influenced by a mix of my mom's Christian views and my dad's Buddhist or Indian/Tibetan yoga views. As weird as it might sound, I find humor in miserable or ironic life encounters. I wonder if such perspective has unconsciously contributed into my work with colorful palette and texture.
It looks like you use a broad range of traditional media for your illustrations. What are your essential materials?
I am most comfortable with graphite- It suits my controlling nature. I often return to using color pencils, so I guess that's my next favorite medium. I love the expressive nature of watercolor and ink, and I also enjoy collage. I just love experimenting with different ways to create an image. I am very aware that I need to achieve some consistency throughout my body of work, and I am still a long way from mastering it.
We are excited to see your piece in our Cosmos exhibition! could you tell us a bit about your approach to the piece you made?
My card was the the planet Mercury, and I read as much as I could to understand his symbolic roles, in what I thought to be conflicting. For example, how can he be a guide to lost souls and a liar at the same time? I found out that he's a deceptive god because he provides a partial truth. Mercury's words can be a understood as a lie or insight depending on one's ignorance/intelligence. It's our job to complete the truth or the lie. I wanted to illustrate this idea by drawing tongues and ribbons. All these thoughts worked into my final piece on Mercury.
You have a clear interest in fashion illustration. How does your own sense of style relate to your art, and vice versa?
You'll be surprised to know that I wear pretty boring clothes. Unlike my work, my personal style is pretty simple, mostly in plain grey, navy, and black. I rarely wear anything patterned or printed or brightly colored. I try to look decent all the time, but not enough to make any sort of fashion statement. Boring, right?
What is your favorite thing about fashion illustration? Could you talk a bit about the space where illustration and fashion meet, and what draws you to make the art that you do?
Fashion is a form of design that combines every type of artistic challenge I enjoy! With fashion illustration, an illustrator delivers this complicated design into a simple 2D drawing through his/her eye conceptually and visually. Just like other types of illustrations, a really successful fashion illustration conveys or even strengthens the idea or the mood of the original design in spite of eliminating out so much detail. It makes me more excited about figuring out interesting combinations of lines, shapes and colors.
What would be your dream project?
I would love to create illustrations for a beautifully bound book on mythology. Creating illustrations for a fashion brand would be another dream project, too.
What have you been working on lately?
Now that I graduated I have been focusing on wrapping up my graphic design portfolio for job hunting. After that, I hope to create some new illustrations out of my little sketchbook drawings. I have been trying to marry what I do with my work stuff and what I do in my sketchbook. It's a tricky business to figure out when you like too many things.
Again, you can see more of Soljee's work on her website or keep an eye out for her piece in the upcoming COSMOS Exhibition.