We had the good fortune of connecting with HAN and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi HAN, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
I grew up as a third-culture kid. Somewhere in between Seoul and Los Angeles. Too American for Korea and too Korean for America. It was always about finding out where I could fit in. At the same time, I wanted to be cool and different, just like anybody else. I think my career started from me wanting to find out my identity.
I would say sub-cultures had a big role in shaping who I am today. I was constantly digging. Constantly learning new information about new cultures. I didn’t have access to magazines like SLAM, THRASHER, SOLE COLLECTOR, or XXL when I was growing up in Korea. I remember that I used to take the bus for an hour and a half after school just to take a look at the newest sneaker releases. I used to spend hours on Japanese websites and on eBay to learn new things.
I think culture is fascinating because it defines who you are. A way of living. A lifestyle. What you wear, eat, or speak represents a whole history and an identity.
I wanted to create my way by combining a mixture of interests as a cook, an artist, a fashion hoarder, and a traveler. My lens is my obsession with culture and identity.
That obsession became my lifestyle and it developed who I am today: a multi-disciplined third-culture individual who focuses on wearables, branding, and fashion through culture and identity.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I never thought I would create or design for a living. For better or worse my life never went as I planned. I was constantly introduced to new opportunities and I just took the risk. I think I’m addicted to challenging myself.
As a kid, I thought I would become a chef. I used to study baking, pastries, and western cuisine. I wanted to go to Le Cordon Bleu to become a famous chef. During summer I had an opportunity to go to Paris and work in a kitchen. I didn’t speak French at all but I wanted to go. After spending a few weeks I figured out that I wasn’t enjoying the environment. I ended up packing my stuff and stayed at a hostel in Chinatown.
From there, I went to museums and galleries and soaked in all the information I could. I met new people and was introduced to different types of cuisine that I had never heard of or seen. I remember I ran around the streets with random people because Spain had just won the World Cup. I then noticed that you could find inspiration within the ordinary.
After struggling for a few years I decided to come back to LA. I started studying fashion design at Santa Monica College. Throughout my education, I noticed that the garments I designed were not functional or significant. I wanted to learn more. After receiving my degree I went to Art Center College of Design to study Fine Art. I had a practice in painting and installation. It was fun but not fulfilling.
One random day I got a flyer from a friend. It was a footwear program up in Portland that our school provided. I knew I loved shoes but I had no prior experience. I got in the program, got on a plane, and took my chances. I failed miserably throughout the first half. It was bad. I ended spending sleepless nights to achieve what I wanted. I wanted to prove myself and I did. That’s when I knew I wanted to pursue design. Creating objects that could enhance and support different lifestyles.
I think it’s all the small moments and decisions I made to become who I am today. I learned that discipline is what separates you from others and keeps you on track. Also to embrace the madness while finding the method within the madness. Because let’s face it if you don’t adapt or change you’re just a mad man. I took a long detour but all these experiences made me into a multi-discipline creative. Most importantly, to understand different cultures.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I would probably start with simple things. Start it off with a LA dirty dog and some agua frescas in downtown. Check out the arts district and hit Wurstküche for exotic hotdogs and amazing fries. Lucky boy for some breakfast burritos. Avenue 26 for some tacos and horchata (Micheladas would be better). Definitely K-town for some Soju and Gold Line in Highland Park for a more subtle bar experience.
Then would spend a day going to Palos Verdes. There’s a small park up in the hills that I used to go to as a kid. Quiet and peaceful. We would grab some Bentos from Mitsuwa or Marukai on the way. Then head over to Wayfarers Chapel for the view and end it off at the Redondo Beach pier.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I think I was blessed enough to meet a lot of good people on the way here. They showed me new paths that I never knew and taught me a way of living.
Shoutout to my parents for always trusting me throughout the worst. I cannot thank them enough.
J2B: For being my family and raising me.
Rose Brown + Kevin A. Beard: For guiding me through the right path and a better way of living.
Jason Dill: For letting me know that you could embrace the madness within the ordinary.
Joan Miro + Antoni Gaudi: For inspiring me.
Wu-Tang Clan: Because Wu-Tang is for the children.
And many more that I will meet soon.