Oktober 2014 / Da Hae Kim / Illustrator, Motion Graphic Designer & Artist / Berlin-Mitte
You moved from Los Angeles to Berlin? L.A. is a place of yearning for many Germans. Why did you leave the city of angels?
Back home I was living my life submerged in work. I was too tired and exhausted to make time for anything else. At one point I was living to work and not working to live. We only have a limited amount of time and this makes time our most valuable asset. It is important to spend it well... exploring, doing things that interest you, with people who are relevant/significant.
I wanted to be more aware of my actions, make decisions with intension, and be conscious of how I live my life in order for it to be a fuller and more satisfying one. I realized that I needed to be more open-minded and welcoming towards new ideas and people to broaden my world. And I wanted to surround myself with positive influences while letting go of negative distractions. And I thought Berlin was a perfect place to make this happen.
I had an immediate connection with the vibes of Berlin. This city has a unique energy and willingness and availability to develop creatively. There are tons of places and spaces that are just waiting to be used as a springboard to creativity. This city is great because it is very welcoming and open and this creates a safe and expressive place for art, which attracts creative people from all over. And I like to surround myself in this city with these people. I like interacting with people from different cultures, experiencing new emotions, while taking on the challenges and excitement of living in a different country. And Berlin offers all of that.
You told me that you love the fact that Berlin has so many parks, because there are so few in L.A., and therefore you found an alternative in cemeteries. Tell me something about that. Where did the idea come from?
He he he, you have a great memory and are a great listener!
It is hard to find parks in L.A. as peaceful, safe, and welcoming like the ones in Berlin. It is nice to get outside especially when I am working in front of a computer for hours. One time my friend and I were just looking for a nice park to eat our food. After a couple unsuccessful attempts at finding a park we were thinking of an alternative place where we can peacefully sit on nice earthy grass. Nobody really thinks to go to cemeteries to have their lunch but that is where we ended up, haha. They are like a hidden peaceful oasis in the midst of the bustling L.A. traffic and chaos. Some cemeteries are beautiful and so nicely kept! Also, I kind of enjoy doing something out of the ordinary like a funky hobo.
How would you rate your feeling being a funky hobo in Berlin on a scale from 1 to 10 if 1 means the highest level?
Haha, I am the top tier highest level. No, it just depends on my mood and what I feel like that day but Berlin is definitely the place to amplify your inner funky hobo.
In Berlin you dedicate more time to your painting than the days before. What inspires you?
Yes, I have been purposefully making more time to paint while I am in Berlin. I actively try to make myself aware and available to be inspired by life itself as silly as that sounds. I just go out, explore, meet people, and feel feelings (laughs).
Why did you study motion graphics?
I am fascinated even to this day to see designs come to life and move!
I started my studies as a painter and expanded into illustration, character design, graphic design and motion graphic design. These are all just different forms of communication and expression. The more I learn the more tools I have to tell stories effectively and creatively. I desire to continue learning and expand my knowledge!
On the one hand you are a professional illustrator and motion graphic designer and on the other hand you love to paint in your leisure time. Creativity runs through your whole life right now. Do you miss something on one side that the other doesn't have or are these different ways of expression to you?
I just need to make sure I have balance between my personal work and commercial work. When I am working for someone it is a nice challenge but there are so many restrictions and guidelines, which can hinder my ability to freely express myself as an artist. Don't get me wrong. This is nice, too. It's a different part of creative discipline that I get to exercise and it helps me grow in different ways. When I am working on my own personal projects or even collaborating with another artist, we have all of the creative freedom. It's nice to not worry about pleasing someone else. When I am working on my own project, I am the director, writer, the artist, and this process helps connect my rational mind with my creative intuition. When I have a productive creative session I feel a kind of creator's high. I feel purpose and satisfaction.
What fascinates you at your personal work of painting and what at your commercial work at the moment?
My personal work is a way to express myself even in ways I don't understand at the time. When I do a painting and look back I can see what emotions I was trying to understand and get out. And I always find this fascinating. On some hidden level, there is something in me subconsciously putting creative ideas together that reflects my feelings. It is cathartic.
Right now what fascinates me in my commercial work are the programs I use to create digital art. All of these digital tools are constantly being updated which force me to keep learning new techniques. And I don't understand the technical side of all these program's engineering. It is fascinating to think about the humans on the other side, creating these programs for us to use, who we are essentially collaborating with in this creative process. It is also fascinating that there is an incomprehensible amount of visuals that can be created with that same program. I started teaching myself a new program, which creates some unique images that I am super into right now. Right now, I am into finding beauty/perfection in imperfection. Glitch, bending, datamoshing, mixing are some techniques and aesthetics I am exploring at the moment and I find it very fascinating.
Do you show your personal work of painting in public?
Yes, in a gallery space usually. I used to do this more often before I was working too much in front of a computer. It is sometimes fun to think about where and in what setting my paintings are now that they have gone home with a new owner. It's as if they have been adopted by a new family and somehow a connection is shared between these otherwise strangers. Usually paintings are sold and they disappear before I get to say goodbye or see who is taking them. One time Johnny Depp bought one of my bee and bulldog paintings. So now when I see him in the movies, I feel like I have a connection with him, like a young adolescent school girl...HA HA HA HA. Basically I am saying we are BFF.
My goal in Berlin is to get back more into painting again and have a series of work within a year.
Mr. Depp is a good choice. Did you know that he is a professional in art? He creates paintings himself. He does not buy art as an investment, he buys art for art's sake.
Oh! I did not know this but it makes absolute sense that he does. I like him even more now. I would love to see his art.
Do you dream of living from selling your paintings or is the current balance between painting and jobs as illustrator and motion graphic designer a perfect match for you?
Balance is good. Freedom is good. Understanding what feels good and living in the present moment is good. Someone once told me that you never work a single day in your life if you love what you do. I am still searching. The thing is, I want to do everything, and am interested in trying out different things, to explore and to expand. I will be bored if I planned my future out and knew that I would be doing the same thing everyday. Maybe this will change in time. Who knows. I have no idea!
Thank you very much for your time. I wish you much inspiration for painting in Berlin.
The interview was conducted by Katja Mollenhauer. Photos by Nadja Wehling
Da Hae Kim was born 1987 on an US army base in Korea. She grew up in Hawaii and Los Angeles. From 2005 to 2010 she attended Art Center of Design in Pasadena/California. After her degree as illustrator and motion graphic designer she worked as a freelancer for commercial clients like Nike, Google, Starbucks Coffee, Nickelodeon, NASA, Siemens, and Toyota. Her stage graphics includes big events like the Oscars 2014 for Pharrell Williams, Coachella 2014 for Pharrell Williams, Owl City Tour 2013, and Sonar Music Festival in Spain for the band "Skrillex" in 2013. In addition she did work for the feature film "Premium Rush" in 2012. As a painter she participated in group shows at galleries such as La Luz de Jesus, Giant Robot, The Hive Gallery all located in Los Angeles. For the commercial client Kodak she worked together with film director Sophie Gateau (siehe Interview Dezember 2013). The result can you watch here "It's time to smile".