Expat artist spotlight: JimmySK

January 19th, 2012 |

Korea’s rich history contains abundant tales of anthropomorphic characters teaching simple lessons, but as globalization and technology creep into everything we do and everywhere we go, these accounts and their influence are losing their place in society. Now a Seoul-based foreign artist is taking up the cause — retelling these sagas with his own modern twist.

JimmySK, his moniker, began his artistic pursuits as a stencil street artist outside of London. Over time, he expanded his abilities, including screen printing and mixed media on canvases, so his works include a little bit of everything. Always a leisure activity in the past, other commitments prevented him from exclusively focusing on artistic interests. “I came to Korea to see the world and have an opportunity to balance my working life while doing art. The country is constantly developing and exciting opportunities to expose artwork are present,” explained the artist.

A fascination with Korean folk tales developed after four years in the country. “Their rich heritage and wonderful stories gained my interest, but they seem to be lost on current society as an influence.”

The artist will host an open house at his new studio in Haebangchon on Jan. 22.

JimmySK wants to “have fun with my art and make images I hope people will enjoy and find amusing. The imagery of my work derives from Korean folk tales. The characters I choose are then given a modern twist. Overall my aim is to make art that can be enjoyed by both Koreans and expats.”

While some contemporary art entails discovering underlying themes through representative art, his work does not. “I draw and paint from the heart and work with enjoyment to make art fun for everyone involved. There is no target audience or secret message. I want to make art accessible to everyone and not alienate anyone who doesn’t understand art, but let everyone enjoy the works.”

While always considering himself an artist, he said that he actually prefers to maintain a day job exclusive of his art. “I need something to compliment my art to keep things interesting and fresh, and to keep myself motivated,” he said. In the process, he has found his forte, producing mural art for Vatos Restaurant in Itaewon, and is trying to found an art company.

JimmySK is not only the artist’s moniker, but a collaborated effort between himself and Katie Stefani. She handles the marketing and day-to-day business for JimmySK to Seoul’s art scene. Their main project is the “JimmySK studio,” intended to feature works by JimmySK and other expat artists.

After monthly participations in Apgujeong’s Platoon Market, they realized there was a lack of interaction between observers and performers. “People are more likely to understand art if they can actively take part in the process. People can visit the studio to see new art, t-shirts, and other items for sale, but will be able to print their own t-shirts and get involved in an artistic interaction between artists and viewers,” explained Stefani.

JimmySK studio will be featuring another open house in March, giving patrons the opportunity to interact with the artist and view his works.

Please check his website for the exact date as the weekend is yet to be determined. An appointment can be made with the artist to schedule a viewing.

For more information on the artists, one can visit the website at http://jimmysk83.wordpress.comTo reach jimmySK Studio, take Noksapyeong station, Line 6, Exit 2, towards Haebangchon. Follow the kimchi pots along HBC’s main drag and proceed to the end of the street. Veer left near the IBK Bank and the studio is on the left.