An interview with BA Illustration graduate Sinae Park

An interview with BA Illustration graduate Sinae Park

Sinae Park chose to move from her native country of South Korea to study her undergraduate degree at NUA. She graduated from BA (Hons) Illustration in 2019. One year on, we caught up with Sinae to talk about starting her career and the impacts of the pandemic on her industry.  

Sinae Park

What are you working on since graduating last year?

I’m a freelance illustrator who works with more ‘traditional’ projects like book illustrations and album covers as well as editorials for clients, but I always have my personal projects alongside which feed into the more commercial side of the job.

I decided to be an illustrator because I am drawn to communication through movements and gestures and I love that I can visualise them through my work.

What have been the most challenging aspects of your work, and the most enjoyable?

It’s been challenging staying positive and passionate towards my work. Starting out can be terrifying. It can be hard to know where to begin, who to contact, where to post your work, how to find your style. I think it all comes naturally as you keep at it.

It wasn’t until around six months after graduating that I started getting illustration jobs. I’m still finding my feet but I love that I am working on projects that contribute to making a warmer and more inclusive communities in the world. That really keeps me going!

Sinae Park illustration
Sinae Park illustration
Sinae Park illustration

As a fresh graduate in the wave of Covid-19, what opportunities or challenges are you facing in terms of career development?

I have been lucky that the work has been quite consistent despite the Covid-19 crisis. Those projects came through people I met at events or those who I kept in touch with online. Being active online as well as through offline events has been really useful for me especially during an unexpected situation like Covid-19.

What are the prospects for your industry post-COVID?

A positive element may be that everyone is now connected and accessible. I am currently working with more UK clients than Korean clients and communicate with them through Zoom. The geographic barrier is not as much of a problem because everyone communicates online.

This new environment has made me reflect a lot on how to evolve as an illustrator and how I can refine my skills. Although everything operates online, I feel that there is more demand in illustrating physical objects as well.

What are your future plans for your career development?

I am currently working to illustrate a cookbook which will be published both in America and the UK and I am preparing for my solo exhibition in December at a gallery called Centre of Contemporary Art in Busan.

I haven’t worked with many Korean clients, but am excited to collaborate with people in Korea and hopefully my solo show helps that!

What was the crucial factor that made you choose NUA to study illustration over other good institutions in the world? 

I wanted to study at a place where I could sample different materials and methods and learn wide facets of what illustration might be, and NUA seemed a perfect place for that. I looked up tutors’ work prior to my decision making and it seemed like all the tutors were really active in their practice, which turned out to be true.

I didn’t realise how illustration could be so multi-disciplinary! I learned printmaking, how to design, write and even run workshops! I think it was the best decision I made. I really enjoyed studying at NUA.

How did your degree at NUA prepare you for your career?

Monday lectures from the visiting lecturers were really good to get a taste of what it would be like to work in the industry. Their practices were all varied and some of them didn’t even study illustration, but all of their practices revolve around the subject of illustration as a medium for storytelling in their field.

As students we were encouraged to get in touch with them individually after their lectures and I kept in touch with some of them to ask further questions and it really has been beneficial for me getting work experience at various places. I also undertook internships which really helped me prepare for life after graduation.

What advice could you give to aspiring illustrators?

Try different things and don’t be shy. It is okay to make mistakes. Ask questions and don’t be afraid of trying something new until you find something that works for you!

View more of Sinae’s work on her Instagram or website