We had the good fortune of connecting with Selim Yang and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Selim, what makes you happy? Why?
When I was in high school, I thought I would become happy if I made it into college. Even now, I believe I will become happy if I make it as a successful illustrator, find my true love, and get married. Compared to that belief, now I am just a graduate with an uncertain future, and therefore an unhappy person. However, that’s not really how happiness works, so I started to search for my own definition of happiness. Happiness exists within our everyday life, and it depends on how we choose to perceive it. When I gave up my obsession with happiness and started to look for small things in my life that make me feel happy, I realized that there are many things to be happy about: hanging out and making wonderful memories with people I love, spending time and taking care of my dog, working hard to buy my favorite toys and figurines, eating something delicious, driving and watching sunset while listening to my favorite song, creating art using my own ideas and colors, and many more.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I was born and grew up in Seoul, South Korea. Like it is for many artists, art has always been a part of my life since my childhood. I graduated from Yewon School and Seoul Arts High School, which are renowned as the country’s best schools for art. I was very happy to learn and develop my art skills in Korea, but frustrated about having to create the kind of art that college admissions officers are looking for, instead of the art that I really wanted to do. When I was feeling lost after failing to enter university in Korea, I found out that I can go to an art college in the US by creating my own portfolio instead of taking a drawing test. Although I felt nervous about English and moving to a place with a different culture, I decided to take the chance in order to pursue the art that I really wanted to do. Initially, I was depressed and afraid after being rejected from universities, but I was able to overcome it as I rediscovered my passion for art while preparing my college entrance portfolio, and I am very thankful that I had the opportunity to study in the US. I realized that even though failures are daunting, they can direct me to the right path. Since entering the ArtCenter, I am continuously exploring different styles of art to develop my own color and define how I want my art to be. Now, I am an illustrator inspired by love for nature, mainly plants and animals, and enjoy experimenting with different materials, such as cutting out papers with different textures, to express my visual language.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I love LA’s peaceful and chill vibes. Also, LA’s perfect weather and rich nature inspire my artworks. If my best Korean friends were to visit, I would like to take them to places where my daily happiness is. First of all, I am a huge, lucky fan of Disney who lives near Disneyland, so Disneyland would be the first place I would take them, where we would be brought back to childhood and make precious memories. Then, I will introduce my favorite local food, street tacos, to my friends. It is the local food that I miss the most when I go back to Korea, and I want my friends to try them since we do not have them in Korea. Last but not least, I want to take them on a picnic at a park to enjoy the sunshine, and feel the weather and nature of LA. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
First of all, I am so thankful for my loving parents, who always support and encourage me. Thanks to my parents, I was able to develop and concentrate on my artwork without much inconvenience.
Another individual I would like to express my thanks to is Jkee Jaiwon Lee at Orange Cube Art, who is a teacher I met there when I was brushing up on my portfolio before college. Jkee is my mentor who guided me to explore my interests and develop them into portfolio projects, and now I am instructing students the same way she did for me. She also led me to pursue my studies at ArtCenter College of Design, which was a life-changing decision. The professors at ArtCenter guided me to seek out my own color and style in art.