Cooling Down Thoughts on Paper


Jisu Choi is a Seoul-based Korean illustrator whose works mostly revolves around themes of travel and place.  Throughout her travels Jisu employs the medium of photography to capture the essence of these places rather than the specific artefacts and objects she encounters, later these snapshots are essential fragments of inspiration for her works. Defying the space of the gallery, it’s set or orders and definition, Jisu presents and shares her works in her home which acts as a ‘open house’. Here people can go through her works freely, at their own pace.

‘Of course, I do often hide some easter eggs here and there, but I don’t care if they notice them or not.’

Pleyel in Paris, promotional illustration with OMA.
Pleyel in Paris, promotional illustration with OMA.
Pleyel in Paris, promotional illustration with OMA.
Pleyel in Paris, promotional illustration with OMA.


What is for you the power of the drawing?

Drawing allows me to look at my thoughts objectively one more time.
While drawing, the images and thoughts that existed in my head, can be dropped out from my body and get cooled down.
I am not the type that develop ideas by drawing – but a type that organize thoughts with writing first and shape out the images from it.
I put down only images that became certain in my head as a drawing.
Therefore the result that comes out feels overwhelmingly “It is worse than expected” rather than “It is better than what I thought”.
It’s not intentional, but this makes me to take an attitude like a mean parent.
Drawing makes me to put distance between myself and my thoughts “in a good way.”

Life after people.
Life after people.

What is your take on the contemporary proliferation of images? how has this affected the very value of the image and its role within our society?

Nowadays, The period of an image staying in one place is as short as the time that is need to be spread.
It reaches to many people, but it also quickly disappears and gets forgotten.
Therefore, rather than expecting to see the value of the image itself, it is often necessary to choose how it is functionally consumed.
In order to keep floating in the flood of the images, the image should be added other functions continuously. As a person who produces images, i must contemplate various directions of the images at the same time.
It is hard to say that it’s not tiring to be honest, but I think it gives some positive stress to me that new tasks are given continuously.

What informed your latest collaboration with OMA?

I designed a promotional image for the complex cultural complex planned for the northern part of Paris. Based on the bird’s eye view of OMA, I implementedvarious cultural facilities in it. I produced 11 images and they became the basis for producing animated images and leaflets.

What were the main concepts behind these illustrations?

I designed the building structure and modeling of bird’s-eye view as simple as possible. I hoped that the buildings look like simple boxes that are stacked.
I let loose the figures of people that the viewers can observe and be absorbed in, in addition to emphasizing the composition to be understood at a glance.
I thought that those figures of people who are taking actions specifically in an easy-to-understand structure would bring out friendly imaginationfrom viewers.

What role did the animation play in relation to the fixed images?

First of all, it became lovelier. I liked the fact that the figures of people had their own movements to catch the viewer’s eyes. The video was made not to be able to be digested at one time, and it derives to replay it multiple times.

What is your take on mediums as Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram and so on?

For the purpose of researching, I use Pinterest the most, and I use Instagram to upload my works. In fact, I still prefer to view the image on a computer screen rather than a cell phone. So I feel most convenient to view images with Pinterest that can launch multiple images simultaneously on a wide screen.

How do you use these as an illustrator?

I use Pinterest to make image boards and collection boards for one subject. Instagram is used for personal promotion. Although I do have a homepage, it is a culture nowadays to ask Instagram ID rather than exchange business cards when I meet other artists, so I made one last year. In fact, I was a little behind.

What is your work process?

I mainly get inspired by photos. I like to travel and take lots of pictures during my trip. I archive the pictures taken with the eyes of myself as an excited tourist, and use them in various projects. I recently bought an iPad, but I’m still more familiar using pen on paper for drafts. If I have time, I sketch on a grid paper first and then move to digital coloring. Most of the time, I activate the grid on Photoshop and then sketch on it. It’s more comfortable for me to have a lattice than to start drawing right on the blank page.

Work in progress for 15 day calendar: January & March.
Work in progress for 15 day calendar: January & March.
15 day calendar: January & March.
15 day calendar: January & March.
Work in progress for Road trip 02: a Gas station
Work in progress for Road trip 02: a Gas station
Road trip 02: a Gas station
Road trip 02: a Gas station

What role does the analogue pen and paper hold in relation to digital tools as the adobe suite etc?

The time I started to use digital tools is quite recent. I feel that my hands have gotten faster since I moved to digital. But as I mentioned earlier, the early eskis are done with hand drawing. There are effects that can only be created by digital work, and a sense that can be obtained. My taste and aesthetic sense have changed much in that direction. But still, the first space to pump out the ideas is paper and pen. I tried several times to become familiar with digital method not only for drawing, but also for useful applications for production such as making draft of writings, arranging schedules, etc, but each time I eventually come back to analog.

What is your most important tool?

I use Adobe Photoshop the most. Next is paper and pen, as expected.