Artist Dan-ah Kim paints ladies on their lonesome, tigers, plants and flowers. Oh, and the occasional ghost. We had a little chat with Dan-ah, who was nice enough to tell us all about her life in Brooklyn, her artistic process and the captivating characters that appear in her work. Scroll down to have a read.
What is your name and how old are you? My name is Dan-ah Kim, and I’m 32-years-old.
Where were you born and where do you live now? I was born in Seoul, South Korea. I’m currently living in Brooklyn, New York.
How does where you live affect your art? Sometimes there are literal references, from brownstones to subway stations and sidewalk gardens, but I think a lot of what I make revolves around interior worlds and where your head goes when you’re alone.
Please describe the space where you do most of your creation – whether it’s your art studio or kitchen bench! I have a home studio that I share with my fiancé, a filmmaker. His desk is covered with camera gear, and mine with paintbrushes and pens. There are rolls of paper, printing supplies, lots of books, and usually a cat sleeping somewhere!
What kind of mediums do you use? I start with pencil, then paint with gouache and acrylic. I also use a lot of Micron pens. I love paper, and end up trying a new type every time I go to the store. I also use a lot of textured paper in various colors for collaging, and sometimes sew on top of a painting at the end. There’s something very satisfying about poking holes into a painting and tying it together.
What makes your work unique and truly your own? That’s hard to say! Maybe the characters, who I like to think of as quiet but dangerous.
Tell us a little about your creative process. These days, I work full-time in film and TV, so painting comes in bits and pieces. I seem to sketch and write down ideas more when I’m on another job, perhaps because I miss painting and it bottles up. I like to paint late at night, with something playing in the background.
What kinds of ideas and things are you working on at the moment? I’m currently working on a proposal for a picture book. It’s something I’ve been working on forever, slowly, and brings together a lot of elements I’ve used in my work over the years.
How has your style changed over time? In some ways it hasn’t, but I think the characters I’ve been painting are more self-assured now than they used to be.
What do you wish you knew about being an artist before you got started? I wish I’d had more practical skills, knew how to handle life as a self-employed person, and understood how important it is to get outside more often, rather than forcing myself to make something when feeling unmotivated.
What is the strangest thing or thought that has inspired a piece of work? Night terrors, which were dramatic enough to have to paint about, though the paintings ended up making the experience seem more charming than terrifying, now that I think about it.
What’s the coolest art tip you’ve ever received? I just went to a talk with Agnès Varda, where she presented some of her work, and advised to always have curiosity for other things, people and forms of expression, and to allow yourself to exist the way you are.
What other budding artists do you love? I love finding great artists and illustrators on Instagram lately, like Laura Berger and Blanca Miró Skoudy. Also, my friend Bianca Siu Davies makes these cheeky prints and cards that I love, and Cat Green does these beautiful, tiny drawings in ballpoint.
What do you enjoy doing when not creating art? Going to the beach, gardening, watching movies, reading, eating, and drinking with friends!