Subin Yang

Exploring the themes of home, culture, nostalgia, and identity, Illustrator Subin Yang creates scenes full of brightly colored (especially turquoise & pink) shapes and loose line details — we love that she thinks her current work is still similar to her doodles as a kid! We discuss the importance of simply being nice to people and she tells us about navigating the life/work balance amidst her recent influx of clients (yay!)

Any hilarious stories about you as a kid being creative?

Recently, I got to go back to my grandmother's place and found out that all my kindergarten sketchbooks were kept there. Of course, I immediately dived in hoping to find some funny ideas to use and was shocked at how similar my current work is to my doodles as a kid. I still love saturated, bright colors (especially turquoise and pink) and draw tons of girls and tons of food and domestic settings. It’s like there are ingrained subconscious preference and taste in me that has been around since I could grab on to crayons. And to be honest, it’s still hard to try to get away from them.

Where did you study and what were some of your first jobs?

I studied at PNCA in Portland, OR and graduated with a BFA in Illustration! I think my first job was an editorial work for HireAHelper, a moving company. It was very exciting since I had to wait some time until I had the correct visa to work and the art director was really kind enough to be patient and wait for me.

Design work by Subin Yang The Design Kids interviews Subin Yang work-2

Did you have a plan for graduation and what actually happened?

Honestly, I just let things come when it was time and just dealt with it best at the moment.

Since I was an international student studying in the US, I always thought about what I’m going to do if I wanted to stay and work!

I always thought about how eventually I might have to join a company that can sponsor me for a visa and that was daunting to me as an illustration student - unlike graphic design or animation students, I hadn’t heard much about illustrator positions in companies.

Eventually, when the time came, I started out with OPT (Optional Practical Training) which allowed me to work in the US for a year after graduation. And it was an exciting first year full of lots of new experiences working as an artist in the US!

The last couple months of the OPT, I moved to NYC hoping to learn more about how illustrators like me can get a visa to work in the US for a little longer - and I met so many cool artists and designers and learned so much in those three months! I still had to leave since the new visa required a lot of preparation but I felt like I had the most productive year and deserved a break (and health insurance haha).

Top five design crushes

Oh my, it’s very hard to narrow down but the few I can name on top of my head:

1. Tove Jansson’s world of Moomins

2. Beatrice Alemagna’s beautiful children’s books

3. Maria Ramos’s illustrations

4. Yeji Yun’s illustrations

5. All of Louise Bourgeois’s work

Design work by Subin Yang The Design Kids interviews Subin Yang work-4
Design work by Subin Yang The Design Kids interviews Subin Yang work-4

I don’t know where I’d be now without their help! Hopefully, I can become the kind of person who can be in the position to help others when the occasion arises.

Best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Be nice to people! It sounds surprisingly simple but it’s not an easy standard to uphold at all times (it’s pretty subjective too). But like I was told, (and sadly I forget whom I heard it from…) being good to people around you is so important since I was also helped a lot by friends, family, teachers, friendly strangers…and I don’t know where I’d be now without their help! Hopefully, I can become the kind of person who can be in the position to help others when the occasion arises.

What have been some of your biggest disasters and how have you learnt from it?

So — It’s been just over a year since I’ve started working as a freelance illustrator. The first year I worked as an illustrator, I obviously barely had any jobs. Thankfully, this past summer had been fruitful and I’ve had so many interesting and dreamy jobs - none of which I could say no to. It was a rash decision on my part and was a balancing act for me to figure out how to provide quality work on time to the people who’ve trusted me with the job. I’m still learning to pace myself and schedule better. I had a pretty crazy month where I lived like a hermit with no proper sleep schedule, especially since I’ve moved halfway across the world from most of my clients.

Design work by Subin Yang The Design Kids interviews Subin Yang work-6
Design work by Subin Yang The Design Kids interviews Subin Yang work-6

Where to find Subin Yang online.

Website: subinyang.com

Instagram: @subinie94

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