Inspired by the humorous and hip, Jungyeon Roh's vigorous line brings life to scenes that course with dialogue and the honesty and intensity of nature. Not afraid to address the gritty, grungy or gross, she is equally capable of capturing intimate scenes as well as expansive ones filled with detail and context that honor a sense of place. Overt gestures make a statement in her work, whether they're connected to hip Brooklyn-ites, butchered pig's heads or sassy tufts of animated soy in a mushroom amusement park of vegan heaven.
ADVERTISING FROM LEFT: YouTube Europe; Facebook Asia; Cleveland State University
Born and raised in Seoul, South Korea, Jungyeon moved to the U.S. in 2006 to study at New York's renowned School of Visual Arts. She earned her BFA in Illustration and Cartooning in 2009 and went on to complete her MFA in Illustration as Visual Essay in 2011. She currently calls the Upper East Side home and considers New York the best city for artists to live in, saying "New York always makes me work harder. It is full of cultural icons and I find myself creating something new from these influences."
MAGAZINES FROM LEFT: McSweeney's Lucky Peach; Bloomberg Businessweek; Plansponsor
A recent graduate, Jungyeon has already made quite the name for herself. She was named one of PRINT magazine's 2012 New Visual Artists, winning praise from some of the industry's biggest talents. Josh Cochran, her thesis advisor at SVA, says "There's a certain sense of intensity to her work that feels surprising. I think she gives off a different persona in person, but she is definitely not afraid to get down and up close with a lot of her subjects." Jungyeon has received two gold cubes and a bronze cube from the Art Directors Club, a silver medal from the Society of Illustrators of New York, and a silver medal from the Society of Illustrators Los Angeles. Her work has been recognized by numerous associations and publications, including Society of Illustrators L.A., Print, Altpick, Communication Arts, American Illustration, CMYK, 3x3 and Creative Quarterly.
AWARD-WINNING TOP: Society of Illustrators 52, Creative Quarterly 18, CMYK 49 BOTTOM FROM LEFT: Art Directors Club 90th Annual Gold Cube; Communication Arts 52, American Illustration 30
PRINT Magazine says "she uses a Crumb-esque style that makes commonplace scenes seem almost grotesque." There is definitely a comic-book style to her work and it is not surprising Jungyeon sees herself as a visual storyteller, saying "drawing pictures is my autobiography." With personal subject matter ranging from Korean public bathhouses to failed relationships, Jungyeon is not afraid to tackle subjects that others may shy away from. "I'm from a conservative culture, so it can feel really embarrassing, but I just keep doing it anyway," she says. "I've been always honest not only in my work but also in my life. I shouldn't hide anything for my work, so then people could share the feelings from my true-based stories."
MISS EGGPLANT ABOVE: Selections from Miss Eggplant's American Boys
True stories and honest emotion have led her to be inspired by song lyrics as well, a personal series based on Estelle's hit American Boy song resulted in a handmade limited edition book. Sharply humorous, she cast herself as a voyeuristic newbie, even more distanced from the song's 'Boys' by her guise as a girlish eggplant. The series struck a chord, winning a number of awards and honors, including an ADC Gold and a SILA Silver, among others. The complete series can be seen here.
NEWSPAPERS TOP FROM LEFT: The New York Times; The Village Voice; The Stranger BOTTOM: The New York Times
Jungyeon's style lends a sense of humour to her editorial assignments as well. A cover for New York mainstay, The Village Voice, depicts Facebook-founder, Mark Zuckerberg, as an evil giant restrained by the townspeople for their article, Rise of the Facebook Killers. It was selected to appear in the American Illustration 31 Annual. Another recent piece for the Columbia Journalism Review had Jungyeon illustrate an amusing map called the 'Celeb-O-Matic,' a tongue-in-cheek guide for journalists seeking access to Hollywood's elite. Other editorial clients include Bloomberg Businessweek, Columbia Journalism Review, McSweeney's Lucky Peach, The New York Times, Orange County Magazine, The Stranger and Willamette Week.
KIEHL'S DAY ABOVE: In-store signage and promo material for Kiehl's Since 1851
Jungyeon has a growing but impressive list of international advertising clients, most recently illustrating for Kiehl's Since 1851. In 2003, New York City mayor, Michael Bloomberg, declared November 12th 'Kiehl's Day' in honour and recognition of their ongoing contributions to the community. Since then Kiehl's stores worldwide have joined in the celebration, making significant contributions in their own communities to commemorate this special day. Jungyeon's illustrations could be seen on Kiehl's in-store signage and promo materials in stores worldwide. International clients include Facebook Asia and YouTube Europe.
YOGA GIRLS ABOVE: Personal work
An avid runner and yoga enthusiast, Jungyeon is inspired by health and physicality in her work as well. While she appreciates the planning and precision that the silkscreening process requires, it was her desire to keep moving that initially led her to printmaking. "Silkscreening is very active and requires a lot of energy," she says. "I'm like an athlete-illustrator!".
Food is a recurring theme in Jungyeon's work and was the subject matter for two handmade books. 'Today is Sushi Day' follows a group of female sushi masters as they teach Americans how to properly eat sushi. It received a Gold Cube at the ADC 89th Annual Awards and a Silver Medal from the Society of Illustrators 52. It was also recognized by American Illustration 28, the 3x3 Illustration Annual No.6 and Creative Quarterly 16. The complete series can be seen here, and a personal project connected to it that was created for the Whitney Museum of Art's Comic Zine Party. In H.O.T., Jungyeon illustrates advocacy for the environmental and health benefits of a vegan diet. The series received a Bronze Cube at the ADC 91st Annual Awards and appeared in the Society of Illustrators 54 Annual.
Click here for downloadable items - desktop wallpapers and a high-res printable letter sized promo.
FOOD TOP: Selections from Today Is Sushi Day BOTTOM: Selections from H.O.T.
Q&A with Jungyeon Roh
What are you reading/watching/listening to right now? I'm listening sounds of the movie Ice Age from the television.
What is your favorite part of living and working in New York? Upper East Side. I've been living here more than four years now, and it was one of the best choices I've ever made after I came to New York. It is also home to Museum Mile, close to central park and the most peaceful and safe part in Manhattan. I also found the best yoga studio here, but the only thing U.E.S needs is opening Whole Foods at 86th street!
What's one tip you have for other creative professionals? Enjoy your life outside of your studio (work), be thankful what you have, and fall in love with learning.
What three words best describe your style? Humorous, cheerful and playful.
What is a typical work day like for you? I tried to work as full time, 10am to 6pm and off for evenings and weekends. I have lots of things to learn outside of the studio, but it's hard to keep the regular schedule since I'm a freelancer.
How has your work changed since you became an illustrator? I used to paint on wall-sized canvases in Korea, and did endless printmaking while I attended at SVA, but now I’m drawing by hand and coloring by digital for illustration jobs.
What's the best way to get over a creative block? Go to hot yoga and try to do headstand.
You can only take three things to a deserted island. What do you take? An apple, passport and brush pen.
What is your ideal studio like? A studio where inside is my own silkscreen and digital equipment and outside is a swimming pool or beach where I can jump right into the water after finishing jobs.
What are some sites you have bookmarked in your browser? I don’t really bookmark any sites.
In an ideal world, you would have an infinite amount of... ? Mom’s food.
Best way to end a long day of work? Taking a hot shower.