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Esther Kim: Artist Interview

illustration by Esther Kim

Nearly two years ago I had the pleasure of crossing paths with the next artist in our interview series, the talented Esther Kim. Although she would never tell you this, she’s a bit of an international superstar… Born in Los Angeles, she spent her teenage years in Tokyo, which begins to explain some of the influence behind her uber-cute, nostalgic style. She’s best known for her fashionable illustrations of super pretty girls, and also the whimsical, huggable characters that often accompany them. It kind of makes me think: part Lisa Frank, part Sanrio, with a touch of vintage Barbie (please forgive my incessant need to classify everything). Her client list is enviable, including the likes of Anna Sui, Nylon (Japan, Korea and US), Elle Girl Korea, Kid Robot, and Urban Outfitters, to name a few. She is currently working on a digital art project for Sony Plastation, and you can even find her art on the cover of Nylon Japan’s December ’11 issue!! Be sure to visit her website after reading the full interview below!

illustration by Esther Kim
illustration by Esther Kim
illustration by Esther Kim
illustration by Esther Kim
Tees featuring illustrations by Esther Kim
Illustration by Esther Kim

AW: Where do you like to find inspiration?
Esther Kim: Daily life, fashionable girls and laughter… My inspiration comes from a deep desire to express what I see around me.  When I catch something that I want to record/keep by drawing I am excited. It can be anything but I’m inspired by change, by shifts in myself through the things around me, which can easily be seen in fashion and of course, of course things that are super girly: french actresses, from the 60‘s, Tokyo street fashion, palm trees, Los Angeles sunsets, eye-shopping at Parco, k-pop stars….

AW: Describe your style in three words.
Esther Kim: Girly. Lovely. Sweet. (A little bit cool?)

AW: Do you have a favorite theme you like to follow within your personal work?
EK: I guess I am obsessed with drawing girls. I love fashion, especially street fashion. I like how you can see visual changes in culture through the personal choices people make in what they wear.

AW: If you could choose any designer or artist to collaborate with, who would it be and why?
Esther Kim: It was my dream, dream, dream to work with Nagi Noda. I am sad that she passed away. I’ve always loved all the work she did for Laforet…oh yeah, I would love to work with Laforet Harajuku!  and other artists. I want to collaborate with photographers and other illustrators, too.

AW: What do you like to do to unwind when you need a break from work?
Esther Kim: I love to read!!!  I love Russian writers. Tolstoy is one of my favorites~! Working my way through War and Peace. I also started reading The Hunger Games series which is really addictive.

AW: If you won the lottery today, would your job, your art, or the process you use change in any way?
Esther Kim: Hmmm, I would rent a studio, for sure, and buy lots of canvases and learn to paint properly.

Illustration by Esther Kim
Illustrations by Esther Kim
illustrations by esther kim for Nylon Japan, december 2011 cover
illustration by Esther Kim
Original Dunny design by Esther Kim for Kid Robot

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Posted by:  aaryn
In:  Interviews
25 Nov 2011