Tell us a bit about yourself?
In terms of nationality, I’m Korean, but have spent most of my life abroad in different countries. I went to college in the US where I studied studio art and graphic design, but then returned to Korea and worked at a hakwon for a while, but now, I guess you can say I’m self-employed with my start up online vegan bake shop and painting on the side.
How would you describe your work to someone who has never seen it before?
Characters and aliens from a colorful, imaginary world in my head. Sometimes the characters are happy and whimsical, other times they are lonely and lost.
What are your main themes and inspirations?
Some common themes in my pieces include communication or language barriers, exploration, discovery, and the simple pleasures of life. There isn’t any specific thing that I use for inspiration… I can find inspiration in so many random things, whether it be books, film, people-watching, music, or just walking around the neighborhood. And sometimes, I’ll just start drawing whatever is on my mind at that moment and see where it leads me.
What is your favorite piece you have created?
It’s tough to choose a favorite. For me, it’s usually more about the process than the actual final result. I remember really enjoying painting the big ‘Burp Blurb’. I usually work at a small scale and this was one of my larger pieces which was a nice change. I also just enjoyed the randomness of the characters, the colors, and the detail of the patterns and background.
What things are difficult to draw?
I think the hardest is capturing the essence of a person or a gesture, which is why I really admire illustrators who are experienced with drawing the human form. I also think it’s difficult to draw anything that you heart is not into. When you can’t seem to get in the groove with a painting and no matter what you do, it’s not coming together, it can feel like pulling teeth.
What would be your dream art project?
To write and illustrate a children’s book or have a solo exhibit.
Can you recommend some Korean artists whose work you find inspiring?
They’re LA-based, but Jeana Sohn and David Choe are two that I’ve been following ever since college and I admire and respect their work and styles so much. I can just get lost in their work.
What else do you do besides art?
I spend a lot of my time baking vegan bread and cookies, but I also like to explore the city, take photos, blog, play with my bunny, and grocery shop.
Where in Seoul we can find the best bibimbap?
One of the most memorable bibimbabs I had in Seoul was at a traditional tofu restaurant, across the street from the Seoul Arts Center. They put thick slices of tofu in it, plenty of veggies, and a generous squeeze of flavorful sesame oil. It was deeelicious!
Seoul’s best kept secret?
I don’t think it’s exactly a secret but I think more people should check out the Bangsan baking market, even if you’re not into baking. It can be a bit hard to find because it’s surrounded by all these other markets in dongdaemun, but once you get there, it’s like you’re in baker’s heaven. I just love looking at all the packaging supplies and baking ingredients. :)
Mipa’s website: http://mipalee.com
Mipa’s vegan bake shop: http://www.aliensbakeshop.com
Mipa’s blog: http://aliensdayout.com