During the Styleshare Sunday Fleamarket held this past October, we met Camper Graphic's So Jaehoon. Last month MUTZINE visited the 25 year-old graphic artist at his newly inaugurated studio located in the Yeonnam-dong district of Seoul. Although his work pulls from retro styles that include a healthy dose of Americana, Jaehoon's work is nothing short of fresh. Korea's coolest fashion labels have taken note of his talent as he has several collaborations under his belt. As his pet kitten roamed about, Jaehoon told us about his latest work with Heich Blade in celebration of the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, as well his plans for 2016.
Interview Gissella Ramirez-Valle & Park Sujin, Interpretation Monica Yum, Photography Ana Fernandez
Firstly, how did you get interested in Graphic Design?
Jaehoon: I studied Visual Design in school. While I was studying, I also ended up doing Graphic Design. I like to sing and draw too but I like the diversity the Design discipline has.
What have been your main influences?
Jaehoon: When I started as a novice, I did Japanese-style graphics. The style is minimal and cute. If you look at Japanese infographics, it’s that kind of style. When I draw, I get influence from old pictures but I think I just always get inspired. If I go to a shop today the display may give me inspiration. I need that sort of spontaneous inspiration to continue creating.
What’s your work philosophy?
Jaehoon: My philosophy is that when you do your best—you do your best, but if it doesn’t come out well, you’ll feel deeply disappointed. That’s why when you do it without obsessing over the final product, and it comes out well and it is received well, you feel much better. I don’t like stressing over my work so I like to take it easy and not be a perfectionist. Also, I don’t really think you need to have great artistry skills to create something special. To me, even babies just doodling is art.
When did you open this studio?
Jaehoon: I’ve been in this studio for 2 months now. But I haven’t done any public displays yet. Some friends have visited me, but you guys are actually the first guests!
The interior is great! Did you have a hand in designing it too?
Jaehoon: I’m very into interior design these days. Everything in this studio, I did all of it! I just finished painting the bathroom earlier today, you can still smell the paint right?
I see that many of your illustrations resemble old style tattoos and tattooing in Korea is currently illegal, though it’s currently being pushed to legality. Can you elaborate on your interest in tattoos?
Jaehoon: I don’t actually do tattoos but I’m currently learning about the craft. I have a friend that’s been been guiding me, although he’s currently serving in the army. There are people who have used my drawings as tattoos. I didn’t do it for them as a request or anything, they simply asked if they can use a certain drawing for a tattoo.
And the reason that I love that particular illustration style is because these days there’s been a revival of retro and old-school stuff which I’ve been enjoying. I like graphics from the 60’s and 70’s, and it’s become my style, though I do like other styles too. In my experience, the things I say I don’t like, I end up liking more (laughs).
Can you tell us a bit more about your style and has public sentiment influenced a change in direction?
Jaehoon: Like I said, I like retro but these days I’m into drawing line art, with no colors. If you look at the Star Wars collaboration, those are all made with lines. I like creating with lines these days, but there’s no special reaction to it though. People tend to like my older work with vivid colors added in. A long time ago I drew some famous people. There’s a rapper named Tyler The Creator and I drew him. The public seems to like drawings of famous people the most.
Tell us a bit more about working on the Star Wars capsule collection for Heich Blade. The runway show was my absolute favorite because of the special inclusion!
Jaehoon: I’ve worked with some other fashion brands before. They came across my work and contacted me for collaborations. How the Heich Blade collaboration came about was more or less the same. The head director really likes Star Wars, it's his absolute favorite. If you go to the showroom, he has a lot of Star Wars toys on display. Mr. Heich was able to get the license for Star Wars and he contacted me to do the illustrations for the special capsule collection.
How much direction did Mr. Heich give you?
Jaehoon: We decided on the concept together but I was able to have a lot of freedom. The drawing was for me to decide and Mr. Heich immediately approved of my creations. He wasn’t fickle at all so I was able to do it easily and comfortably.
Are you thinking of expanding to other mediums?
Jaehoon: Up until now I’ve done graphic design but I’ve always wanted to do a variety of things—I want to make classic clothes, and create lifestyle items. I enjoy many things across fields and my goal is to create a brand that encapsulates it all. I’m actually preparing it a bit right now. I think it’ll come out by next Summer.
How are you going to ensure that your brand stands out from the rest?
Jaehoon: First is graphics. There aren’t many brands that utilize graphic design as a whole. Second would be simply making clothes. I’m not doing this as if it’s a war and everyone is my competition, but rather how I like and how I want.
What’s the most challenging thing about being a designer and launching your own business?
Jaehoon: I’ve only been doing this for a year and before that I was a student. I think the most challenging thing was that in Korea, parents expect you to immediately find a job after you graduate. Convincing my parents to support me was a challenge.
Do you have anything to say about the relation between Hallyu and Korean fashion?
Jaehoon: A while ago, people weren’t particularly interested in Korean fashion. When Hallyu became really popular, through music mainly, it began to gain esteem. As the Korean market got bigger and as it was being shown internationally, the influence domestically continued to grow. Internationally, they’re saying that Korean fashion is getting more and more popular, but actually Korean people have always been good at making clothes that leave a good impression.
What are your future goals?
Jaehoon: I want to be the kind of person that does everything I want to.(laughs) First, I want a big showroom and have all my brand items in there. I want a freelancer office with music and art. I would like to have these things in the future, but the future can change.
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We'll also make sure to publish updates about the Camper fashion and lifestyle brand!