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Yechan Jung on Imaginary Worlds and Otherworldly Creatures

The imagination is where it all begins.

From cave walls to DALL-E 2, the tools for visually realising creative thinking are getting smarter, but there is no substitute for where these ideas originate.

Berlin-based illustrator Yechan Jung might describe themself as a dreamer.

“I’ve always been a person who would get lost in a chain of thoughts or imaginations. Sometimes they are unrealistic worries about relationships, sometimes they are about virtual projects - whether art directing an album of my favourite artists or designing the most impractical runway stages, and sometimes they are whimsical ideas about cute and soft things - sleeping sofa creatures, for example. The last ones are usually what I bring to life with my current style of illustration.”

It can be easy enough to write yourself off as someone who isn’t imaginative, but the reality is that it doesn’t always just happen. Yechan sets time only for imagining, whether that’s going for a walk or sitting at a table with a blank sheet of paper.

“I try to keep telling myself that the commercial aspects of illustration aren’t more important than the fun aspect. I think the imaginations that come with fun are purer.”

Once these imaginations have started forming, Yechan starts making sketches, although “it usually takes multiple pages for me to find the right shapes and composition to portray the initial idea.” The composition then moves from paper to digital for colouring, but then back to paper for the final adjusting.

“I don’t have fixed standards when it comes to picking which idea to make a drawing out of, but when the idea fits into the feeling of my illustration style, I go for it.”

Ideas are rarely formed in a vacuum, and going through the motions in your own head isn’t the only way to get the inspiration wheel spinning. Yechan’s favourite ever animation is Doraemon, and has taken great inspiration from creator Fujiko Fujio. “Why I liked Doraemon so much despite shows with similar characters was that Doraemon - a blue cat with a magical pocket - had the ability to connect fantasy with reality through the numerous and brilliant tools stored in his little pocket, and to help people alongside.” One of those tools was the bamboo helicopter that can be attached to Doraemon's head, giving them the ability to fly. “The ability itself is nothing new, but I love it since it’s one of the big symbols that represent Doraemon’s magical world.”

Fittingly, this piece came from Yechan’s imaginations of fruits.

"First, it started with the thought of an apple and a watermelon that accidentally have swapped their insides, then sour grapes with holy power, trying to reset it. This thought kept going, and after some time, it ended up being about dead watermelons. In this image, watermelons get attacked by a ballet-ninja with their ribbon-shaped shurikens. But it doesn't mean that their lives are completely over. Their soul comes out of their bodies and form in to “ghostmelons”, blue and non-physical beings. Despite their tragic accident, they are cheerful and lively.”

Yechan likes the idea of eventually learning how to 3D software, and is excited by the “possibility of characters coming alive in 3D, existing in different perspectives with ease.” But for now, the connection they have with their imagination will still result in enthralling work, regardless of the medium.

Follow Yechan's Instagram here for more imaginary worlds


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