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Interview with Sinae Park

Sinae Park has just finished year one of the BA (Hons) Illustration course she reflects on her interest in conceptual illustration and studying at a specialist University.

Sinae Park

Experimentation is the focus in Year One – have you enjoyed that process?

I have enjoyed it. Because I never went to art school or worked professionally, this is my first experience. When I was having my interview with the Course Leader, he wasn’t worried that I had no background in art, but he did ask me “Do you think you can do it?” I was like, “Yeah!” because I knew I’d work at it.

That said, I wasn’t really interested in trying out different materials to make images, because I had never actually tried experimenting before. But I was there to work, so I said “Yeah…” It opened my eyes! I try new materials all the time now and I’ve become interested in conceptual illustration.

Can you tell me a bit about what you mean by conceptual illustration?

Conceptual illustration is grounded in the conceptual aspects of a project brief. You delve into the subject more deeply, although the work is still ideas-based at its core so it doesn’t lose its shape. Illustration is about connecting to other people and communicating through storytelling, but I think people limit illustration to images for children’s books or something. You can create whatever you want, so long as you have a fixed departure point.

I studied avant-garde literature before coming to the UK. I was fascinated by the ways language shapes the mind and affects emotions. But I didn’t see the connection between literature and illustration. This course has really opened up my heart to the potential of illustration. Through my tutors and material experimentation, I have learned to bring conceptual thinking to my work.

Sinae Park

What is it like to study at a creative specialist university surrounded by other artists and designers?

It’s opened up all kinds of possibilities. It’s especially great that you get to talk to the tutors so much, even those you aren’t working with but who are passing through the studio. They take an interest and will ask about your work. I get to explain my work, even when I don’t yet have the language to. Actually, by forcing me to try, those conversations helped me shape what I wanted to say. I didn’t like talking in the studio at first, but it really helped, especially because I felt a bit insecure about my English.

The tutors make a lot of effort to talk to with me and I feel they are really supportive and actually care about the students on a personal level. You don’t have to go around asking if you can talk to your tutors or wait for a deadline to ask for a little time. It’s because they are also illustrators, so they’re compelled to be interested. And they have good communication skills from working with clients and other creatives. Yeah, I just love them.

What is it like living in Norwich?

Oh, I love Norwich and I really like living here. Norwich is small with a strong sense of community. That makes it easier for people to make friends. It’s better than London because there are so many people there and you have to make a real effort to meet people. I am an extroverted person and gain energy from talking to other people, so Norwich is fantastic because there is so much happening and people are friendly. I made lots of friends from doing things in the city and student societies – and just bantering with people. It’s been just amazing!

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