We had the good fortune of connecting with Joanne Kim and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Joanne, career-wise, where do you want to be in the end?
I want to show the children a positive view of the world through animation. I became familiar with films like Studio Ghibli animated films at a young age and that has shaped my dreams and passion about animation. Their characters were very dynamic, capable of changing their reality, and were difficult to describe within the traditional good-evil dichotomy. Antagonistic characters were threatening but always three-dimensional. Since I was young, I liked the films end where characters and members of the ecosystem end up reconciling and finding balance, rather than defeating unforgivable demons through violence.
I would like to present to the world a hero who knows the power of love over dominance. I want to show that a good person does not punish enemies who think contrary to us but tries to understand and embrace those different from ourselves. We may regret the choices and the actions we’ve made, and become frustrated, and sometimes fail. However, heroism comes from standing up, from sticking to principle, and from loving those around us. I believe that this is a message the world sorely needs.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am currently working as an freelance animator in both Japanese/Western animation industry and slowly going forward for my primary goal, which is to complete to story I wish to tell.
Two years ago when I was still a high school student, I participated in an animation contest and it was far-reaching, with over a thousand competitors worldwide. I spent over three months preparing for the contest, hoping not only to win but to show to the world my story as well. I would spend nine-hour days, seven days a week, with a pencil in my hand to find new angles and methods to get my story across. However, I went through a serious burnout, and was unable to complete to project, leaving roughly ten panels out from the final animation. This was, of course, a failure. However, the act of trying, working, and yes, even failing, helped me move towards another, the loftier goals.
I learned that a weak first draft is the main cause of an incomplete product and have spent a great deal of time learning how to plan a story before jumping into the creation. I am still terrified of failure, of showing my weaknesses and vulnerabilities to others and facing them myself without being able to get past the feelings of shame and disappointment. However, from that experience, I learned to love rejection more than acceptance and learned to build myself up as an artist based on these failures. Being able to find the art in every moment, every experience is what has kept me to keep move forward for my dreams.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I would take my friend to the places that I went when I arrived California for the first time. I went to little Tokyo at the third day after the arrival. I had bubble tea and went to shopping with my friends and after that I visited Korean BBQ restaurant named Kant Ho Dong Baekjeong and had awesome Korean food. I remember going to Santa Monica and watched the sunset with my friends from college and that was the best experience I had! Disneyland is also a great option. There are a lot of exhibitions and shows to watch from Academy Museum of Motion Pictures so I would highly recommend that place too!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Ms. Robinson, my art teacher since high school helped me to clarify my future path and artistic goals. She taught me how to find balance between reality and ideals. I learned that having a great technical skills are important, but I must also consider how to engage with my craft full-heartedly. When I am not sure about my actions, I would ask myself: what am I willing to convey through my art? If I figure out the answer to this question, I would move towards it even if I am not fully conscious of how I am doing so. My grade 10 art teacher is the artist who gave me the essential direction when I was lost and confused, helped me learn to navigate with reality and idealism side by side. She is the artist who has had the biggest and most direct influence on me in my life and my understanding of art.