Q: Where are you from, how old are you, and where do you live now?
A: I was born in Pusan, South Korea, and have lived in Mahtomedi since I was 8 months old. I am 21 years old and currently live in Maplewood.
Q: How and when did you get started as an artist?
A: I believe I've been drawing ever since I figured out that pencils weren't meant to be chewed on. If you look in my parent’s basement, you can find a box stuffed with all sorts of projects, from doodles to large paintings to wire sculptures.
Q: Are you self-taught, or do you have formal training in art? If so, when and where?
A: I am largely self-taught, though my style has evolved and refined over the years with help from my high-school art teacher, Nancy Malmstrom. My short attention span and perfectionism are blessings in disguise, as they help push me to challenge myself and explore different styles.
Q: What media do you work in these days?
A: I usually work in markers, ink, and colored pencils on bristol paper. I adore Prismacolor brand markers and pencils. When the spirit moves me, I enjoy using gouache, collage, or acrylics.
Q: What are the most unusual materials or tools you use in your art, if any?
A: I tried using clippings from one of my horse's manes once, but it didn't work out too well.
Q: What usually inspires you in your art? Does your art tend to have commonalities of theme, color, texture or design?
A: My love of animals, especially horses, as well as my interest in storytelling, have fueled my passion for drawing and illustration. When I was really little, I wanted a horse very badly, so while I saved my money I busied myself drawing my dream horses. I also drew my own illustrations for some of my favorite books, as well as designed characters for stories of my own. I'm very interested in movement, contrast, and graceful lines, and like to set off soft shading with bold outlines and frames around the background. I like capturing distinct personalities of humans and animals in my portraits and illustrations. Ultimately, I think it's personality and movement that set off my drawings.
Q: How do you market your art?
A: I've been surprisingly lucky in that most of the time, people approach me for drawing or illustration projects. I'm perfectly fine with this commission-based relationship, as I'm not relying on my art to pay the bills (though it would be nice). I have a couple of Websites at which I regularly post my drawings, which helps me make contacts and gain inspiration from the online community. I am a reliable and friendly source for unique, dynamic, and thoughtful portraits and illustrations, and my drawings of pets and other loved ones are often purchased as gifts for others.
Q: At what price range is your art offered?
A: My art is very affordable. My Website, www.kaianart.com, has a comprehensive price list for commission-based work. My other projects are usually not for sale.
Q: What is it about your art to which people seem to respond?
A: My drawings reflect my passions, as well as those of others. I try very hard to portray someone's distinct personality and story.
Q: What is the most rewarding part about creating your art?
A: I love seeing and hearing the reactions when those who request a drawing from me see the finished product. Honestly, I'm most satisfied when my art is given as a gift, though having my illustrations published definitely comes in a close second. Another great part about sharing my art with others comes from their critiques; I'm always striving to improve, and their comments help guide me.
Q: What is the most challenging part?
A: When it comes to portraiture, the most challenging part is making sure the subject's features are accurate. This is especially difficult when it comes to drawing portraits of people or pets I've never met in person, and have only e-mail correspondences and photographs to work from. As far as illustrating goes, I sometimes find it challenging to find a balance between the author's vision and my own, though I'm learning to be more flexible with my style.
A huge frustration that comes with posting and promoting my art online is the theft and reproduction of my art on other Websites, which I and many unlucky others have had to deal with. Last summer, I resisted someone who was selling watches, refrigerator magnets, and keychains with my drawings printed on them without my prior knowledge or permission. It was not a pleasant experience, to say the least.
Q: Do you have a "claim to fame" as an artist?
A: In addition to illustrating the book “Insightful Parenting: Making Moments Count” by Dr. Steve Kahn, my art has been featured in the Mythos RPG manual, Boston-based punk band The Dresden Dolls' compilation “The Virginia Companion,” and the UK's Pentacle magazine. I was also voted the "Best Female Artist" in Mahtomedi High School's class of '06.
Q: Are you a full-time artist or do you have a day job? If so, what do you do, and where?
A: I'm a student at the University of Minnesota, majoring in psychology with a focus on animal learning and behavior, with a minor in anthropology. I also work in the cafe at Maplewood's Barnes & Noble, and bartend on weekends at Murasaki, an amazing little Japanese restaurant in Stillwater.
Q: What else do you do in your spare time?
A: When I'm not at school, working, or drawing, I spend most of my time at Woodloch Stable in Hugo, riding my wonderful horses Gringo and Griffin. I've been riding there since I was 5, and Woodloch's my second home. In addition to my "dream horses," I have a menagerie that consists of my cat Nubbin, my rats Bill and Ted, a baby corn snake called Adrian, and a really mean betta fish, tentatively named The Really Mean Betta Fish. I love to read (especially sci-fi, fantasy, and bizarre existential novels), watch action and Disney movies, wander around outside, listen to music (I love industrial metal, trance and electronic hardcore, and 90s pop), hang out with my friends, and go to concerts.
Q: Do you have a family and what are their names and ages?
A: My family consists of my dad Steve, 57, my mom Jackie, 57, and my younger sister Elizabeth, 17, who is a senior at Mahtomedi High School.
Q: What is your five-year plan as an artist?
A: I would love to continue working on commissions as time permits as I finish my undergrad studies. Ongoing projects include sci-fi novel and children's book illustration, and my goal is to write, illustrate, and publish at least one children's book.