Get to know California based illustrator Ilya Shkipin
Discover Wanjin GIM Artboost gallery here:
Who are you?
I was born in Korea in 1981 and have lived in Korea till now. In 2009, I graduated from college majoring in animation. As soon as I graduated from college, I quit animation work. I spent many years doing various works to earn a living, while doing my own personal works. Since 2016, I have shared my works in Instagram. I am currently working in Seoul.
How did you get interested in art?
I heard from my parents that I had spent time drawing and painting since my childhood. My first memory associated with drawing that I remember vividly is related with my uncle. When my uncle visited me, he used to draw robot characters that were popular at that time. I imitated his drawings. After that I grew up with drawing. There were always drawings and paintings around me. The reason why I studied animation in college was that I had a theme that I wanted to express it with story and video direction. I made my graduation work with the theme and
strangely I did not want to do animation anymore after that. Since then, animation has been a bread-earning job only, and I have painted what I wanted to draw for the time being.
How would you describe your style?
The prominent characteristics of my works are color and detailed expression. Such way of expression needs intensive labor but I feel delighted and blissful in the way of expression, and I believe that such bliss is conveyed to the audience. It seems that I focused on description in the expression, but what I am really interested in is the vacant space surrounding it. Or the relationship between the drawing and the blank! I work thinking of how the parts of the human body, which are described in detail on a screen, harmonize with the margins and what can be implied in the harmony and balance. I explore how to turn a 'target' into a 'phenomenon' through the relationship between the figure and the margin. Sometimes, I reflect ‘coincidence’ to my work through the ground coloring with watercolor paints.
What are your sources of inspiration?
Although I am not religius, I am interested in the philosophy and worldview of religions. As such a transcendent, infinite world is a world outside of human cognition, free conception is available. I usually get inspirations from such thoughts. My work mainly deals with the human body, but I always keep hints of such an infinite world.
How is the creation process for you?
I roughly sketch the inspiration that comes to mind and get reference materials. Sometimes, I choose the appropriate one from the collected
data, or take a picture myself. Afterwards, I go into the work using materials. It is a very normal process. Sometimes it is inspired by the reference itself. When I detect the possibility of a new expression of the color and shape of the human body from the reference, I perform practices.
What are your favourite materials to work with?
Until 2016, I have mainly worked with acrylic and oil paintings, but now my favorite materials are color pencils and oil pastels. I want to express my inspiration as quickly as possible when it is vivid, and I feel that those materials are more accessible than paints. The materials I use need to be overlapped to get the color I want. Therefore, there has to be difference between the color in my work and the reference color. I feel the unexpected difference very attractive. Although I have not used the paints for about two years, I plan to work with paints in the future whenever possible.
Who are your favorite artists?
There are many respectable artists, but Lucian Freud is the one who has influenced me most. I met his paintings when I wandered around. They were a relief to me in the middle of wandering. One of the reasons I was wandering was due to the perception of the world of art degrading the details, but his painting completely destroyed my long-standing complex. I was fascinated by his obvious color, brush touch, bold composition, and sincere spirit. Above all his painting gave me the courage to open up my descriptive ability that I used to want to hide. I think he followed the inspiration, the voice and the joy of his own, not being dragged by the currents of the art world.
What do you do besides being an artist?
Most of my life is tailored to my work. I usually spend time alone when I do not work, and do not have any appointment for a meeting. I usually read aloud, do exercises, watch movies, do house chores, and work for income when I am alone. Recently, I started learning English. For me, it is very important to have some time being alone.
What are the best advice given to you as an artist?
“Do what is good for you and for the world." This is not an advice that someone gave me, but the one that I picked up from YouTube lectures at some point in my life. When I was studying oil paintings, I painted pictures only for my own comfort. At that time, I adhered to oil paintings only because they were the ones that I could sell at relatively high price. I did not share them in SNS because I would like to open them up in an exhibition. In those days, I worked, as if I were a fighter while I was disconnected and alienated from the world. At one moment I realized that I was not happy at all. Of course, my technical skills improved a lot, but I realized that it was pointless, impossible, and painful to continue working like this.
Just as when one has been in a crooked posture for a long time, he feels pain in his body and he has to correct his posture, I have to correct my mental posture. After some personal episodes, I stopped working and then tried to have a shift. The advice helped me a lot when I tried to make a mind shift.
Ever since then I have asked this question to me every day. "Today, in the place I sit, with my talents ... what can I do for this world, including myself?"
I think that what is important in the work is how to use the skills rather than how to improve them. The contemporary time is the best time to share our work and inspiration.
To see more from Wanjin GIM, you can find his Artboost gallery