Mimi Yoon Interview :
Global Location: US
Mimi Yoon, is a LA area artist,whose art allures and seduces the audience into her stormy and vulnerable in-between world. She is the founder of Artist Art Academy, which teaches drawing and painting to kids from 1st through 12th grades, including portfolio preparation for those applying to art colleges.
AP: At what age did you start to draw and become inspired by art and words?
MY: I think I started to draw from the moment I was able to hold a drawing tool in my hand. According to my mom, I drew a recognizable female figure when I was only about 20 months old. I figured that was a figure only the mother of a 20 months old baby artist can recognize, but you’d never know. And since that point, I believe I’ve never stopped. Any blank space inspired me to fill in with my doodles, really. I used to come home from school with more doodles than notes. Not sure when it exactly started, but I remember as a young child instead of saying a prayer when kneeled down with eyes closed before getting in the bed at night, I used to play sonata in c, k. 545 or draw faces in my head… over and over. And once in bed, I’ve never skipped a day of story writing, and yes all in my head until I’d fall asleep.
AP: You studied illustration at Otis and have a BFA in graphic design from California State University. Did you know that you always wanted to do this?
MY: I’ve always loved drawing but it wasn’t until high school that I decided to pursue some form of art as my career. When I started my study @CSULB, my plan was to tackle the field that very few female artists were a part of. I wanted to become an industrial designer and prove to the world that women can be equally magnificent in this male dominated industry. Little did I know how shy and inapt I was at handling tools and materials when I was required to take wood and metal shops. That’s when I quickly changed my major to graphic design. I am currently doing a series on aluminum sheets, which I find very challenging. I think that’s as far as I’d go with use of any metal.
AP: You currently live and work as a graphic designer in Orange Country, California, what are some of your favorite design projects you’ve worked on to date?
MY: I currently live and work as an artist and an art teacher in OC, California. I stopped doing graphic design work a couple years after I founded Artis Art Academy. One of my favorite graphic design projects I’ve done is the design of the casing for several series of car audio amplifiers for a car audio manufacturer many years ago. I actually designed the mold and the complete cosmetics of the amps, the graphics, the packaging, their ads, brochures, and the pr kit… all a one woman show. And the products were sold in Best Buy and were installed in Best Buy’s show cars. That was my proud industrial/graphic designer moment.
AP: Can you tell us more about the great mentoring program you have set up at ‘Artis Art Academy’ and what made you feel like you needed to do this?
MY: I founded Artis Art Academy a bit over 9 years ago. I started it because I could not find a good enough children’s art school for me to send my son to. I completely disagreed with the methods many of the art classes in my area were teaching children, and that lead me to start my own to teach art to kids how I wanted my own kids to be taught.
Artis stands for a couple of things but mainly means Art is _______ , which leaves it completely up to each child’s interpretation.
Artis is a relationship and an inspiration more than it is an academy or an institution. It’s a space where young creative minds come to be inspired and to inspire. It’s a place for them to be creative and is where they create and express and become messy beyond the boundaries of the edges of canvas and paper. Our first few projects are designed to teach each student to understand the fundamentals of drawing and painting at their own pace which has been very successful. After that, our curriculum is all about each young artist’s individual creativity and uniqueness. While bouncing the ideas back and forth, we encourage them to mature as an artist and stay honest, young, and pure as an individual. I paint among them daily. Most of my pieces were painted while sitting, chatting, and sharing among my students. I truly believe that is the best way to inspire young minds.
Artis is for students of grades from K-12th and some college students, but I mainly work with high schoolers that are prepping their portfolios to submit to art universities for admissions. So far it’s been 100% successful, and all our past students have moved on to the most prestigious institutions throughout the US and abroad all with scholarships. I can proudly say my biggest career trophy is the friendship I’ve built with all of my past and current students.
AP: You depict beautiful women in your paintings and drawings. Are these women self-portraits or friends or both?
MY: Neither. Unless I specify that a piece is a self portrait, which most are not, the women used are not myself or anyone I know. I’ve been told over and over that they do look much like me, but that’s only because my own face is the most familiar one to me, and I inevitably paint some of my own features here and there, but they are not done intentionally except for the mole next to the mouth. They are merely the faces I conjure up in my head that I feel would best fit the emotions I hope to portray. The beautiful faces are simply the instruments I use to allure my audience with.
AP: What is your medium of choice?
MY: I love painting with acrylic. It’s odorless and is easily cleanable. It can easily be manipulated to look heavy, rich, lush, and lustrous and can also be translucent, light, and runny, and even dry and chalky… again all without the toxic fume, dust, and odor… and wait (for it to dry). I draw with charcoal also at times, for it is perfect to create drama with.
AP: On your website you state that you like the rain. What is it about the rain that you like so much?
MY: Yes, the rain… I love rain, but how do I explain why I love rain so much…? It makes me happy. It makes me sad. It’s cozy and romantic. It’s cold and lonely. It’s life giving and renewing, and is not still. It flows and my creative juice floods with it. It sings the most beautiful songs, and draws the curtain that shuts all out and makes the entire world my own. It makes me forget and brings back the memories that I didn’t know I had. I could go on forever with the answer to this question.
AP: There is not much rain in Southern California, so if you had your pick to move to anywhere on the planet where would you move to?
MY: My very first thought was Seattle, but I think it may be the act of living in southern Cali and having so little rain that makes me love rain even more. It’s the longing and anticipation, but then again, I’d never know unless I actually moved to the most beautiful rainy city on this planet. Heard that Milan has much rain too and sounds very attractive.
AP: Can you tell us more about the Blue Canvas events you have curated and when we may see the next one?
MY: The Bluecanvas event I just curated in October was our very first and a huge success. It’s a one day event during the L.A. Artwalk and as of now is a quarterly event that will correspond with the release of each Bluecanvas quarterly magazine. In our first event, we exhibited artworks of 8 L.A. artists from Bluecanvas.com including myself, and featured the work of masters program from one of our collaborating art schools, LCAD, and was sponsored by Scion, Epson, and Art Supply Warehouse. We are currently working on our next, which will be on January 13, 2011. The January event will be even larger and better featuring art from the illustration department at Art Center College of Design along with 10-15 local artists of Bluecanvas.com.
AP: You have 17 goldfish do they live in your studio or in a pond in a garden? And do they all have beautiful names?
MY: haha, that’s a funny question. I’ve noticed while reading other artists’ bios that many often include where, with whom, and how many pets they live with. So I thought I’d be funny and include a sentence about our goldfishes in my own bio. Our goldfishes live in small fishtanks… no pond in a garden. But they do have beautiful names like Maximus (from The Gladiator), Mario, Luigi, Kimbo the blueberry, Bubble Head, Panda Express 1, Panda Express 2, Dragon Ball Z, Picachu, and etc. I do have 2 of the cutest baby turtles, Sarah and Fifi at Artis who are really spoiled and eat nothing but dried shrimps.
AP: In what direction would you like to see your work going over the next five years?
MY: I started to paint and do art for myself in 2007, and greatly regret that I didn’t start sooner. Often I feel that my art is very young (in sense of style) for an artist of my age but at the same time, am utterly proud to be able to create art that touches and resonates with women and men of all ages.
What I’ve started as a hobby and self-indulgence has grown and I’ve been lucky to exhibit in several huge group shows nationally and internationally along side some recognized artists. These days I’m busy creating for several group shows and live painting scheduled for the rest of this year and coming year. I’d really love to see my art appreciated and admired more by a bigger audience, and to become too busy having solos and some collaboration work with other artists. And I’d also love to get involved more with the charity events that incorporate art. Of course all this, while continuing to mentor creative youth.
AP: Thank you for taking the time to share with us the insight into your world.
MY: Thank you so very much, AP, for all you’ve done for me.