JONGMIN JOY KIM
GUMI / SOUTH KOREA
SUMMER 2017 ARTIST IN RESIDENCE
ST. HELENA, CA STUDIOS
I am a South Korean artist. Born in 1991 in the city of Gumi-Si, I went on to attend and graduate from Gimcheon High School of Arts in 2010. Landing in America in 2014.
The vast majority of my acquaintances say with one voice that I showed a great talent for art since I was a little boy. My family was so poor that both my parents were busy working all day. So I was raised by other people. I was told by those who raised me that I was welcomed by anyone since I was well behaved as long as I had stuffs to draw such as crayon and paints. That was the beginning of my passion for drawing and even after I entered an elementary school, the passion still continued. The ability for drawing enabled me to easily make new friends at school and even to have fans of my drawing. Then, I started drawing cartoons as a way of entertaining my friends. Cartoon drawing proved so effective that even students of other classes came to see my cartoons. The crowds were so huge that I had to invent a little game on my notebook for those who waited for their turn to see cartoons. The gimmick also earned me a lot of money. Some students wanted to have my drawing on their sports uniform. I became better and better at drawing cartoons as the number of students wanting my drawing increased. Eventually, my homeroom teacher created an art club when I was a fourth grade of elementary school. Since then, I was able to make use of various art materials to create quality arts. By the time I reached the age of puberty, I became interested in music and sports, which naturally led to the encounter with street arts such as African-American culture symbolized by hip-hop. Then, I entered a high school of the arts. The environment in high school was completely different than what I expected. Most of the arts high schools in Korea were focused on getting students to go to an art college. So I wasn’t allowed to do what I wanted. In fact, it was common for most students to become sort of a drawing machine that churned out drawings just like learning language by rote. And eventually, they came to lose their own colors in arts. This meant that the imagination and creativity of students were all controlled by school. After all, I came to neglect school life, paying little attention to my classes, which made my parents extremely disappointed. Soon, they decided to send me to Europe.
In Europe, I was unfamiliar with everything including ethnicity, language and culture and I was scared of them. But it didn’t take me long to get accustomed to the new environment. Luckily, I had a chance to go backpacking for a month with an old man who had worked as a journalist for about 20 years. As he knew that I majored in arts the destinations of our trip were mostly attractions related to arts. The encounters with numerous arts in Europe rekindled my enthusiasm for arts, which was rooted deep inside my heart. After I went back to Korea I worked harder on painting than ever before. I was able to work with various interior design companies. Then, I wanted to broaden my career to engage in new areas. That led me to learning another major, video arts, at new college. During the years of the college, my life was filled with thrill. I made experimental videos and short films with my friends. Then, I had to take time off from school to go into the service. However, I had a good opportunity to postpone enlisting in the army. I took the opportunity to set up a clothing store which was a kind of complex art place where anyone can come to enjoy their time. While I was running the store I was able to challenge and learn things that I had never tried before, including tattoos. Later, I joined the army in which I spent many hours thinking about how to further arts in a complex way. Eventually, I made a conclusion that all kinds of arts came from fine art. So I went to America that I believed was an ideal place to meet with various people in the world of arts right after I was discharged from military service.