Introducing Illustrator Jinhwa Jang
October 28, 2021
The 22nd San Diego Asian Film Festival is back in-theaters across San Diego County after a year of virtual programming. For the first time, we have collaborated with an illustrator on the festival’s unique design and identity. This year’s identity is inspired by a post-pandemic futurist vision. With the return to in-person programming, SDAFF Artistic Director Brian Hu asks audiences to “imagine re-emergence into movie theaters and community as like peering out into a post-apocalyptic world, one that is strange and uncanny, but one that’s also enticing and full of opportunities for play and experimentation.”
With this in mind, SDAFF’s designers discovered the work of Jinhwa Jang, an illustrator based in Seoul. Jinhwa’s energetic work reflects on urban landscapes referencing cities she has lived in and the people living there. From a science fiction point of view, her illustrations echo the kind of future SDAFF dreams of. The cosmic excitement of the cityscapes reverberates with optimism that a post-pandemic world is full of opportunities for collaboration and play. Screens become portals to enter the various possibilities for audiences’ imaginations to explore. The theater becomes a space for speculation like looking into a kaleidoscope to see what the future has in store.
Each year, SDAFF’s creative team develops a visual narrative that anchors the festival’s unique relevance. After 2020, the festival has an understanding that things will never be normal, but why strive for that? With a new perspective on the way things were, the narrative this year envisions the way things can be as everyone re-emerges into the world and back into the movie theater to be in community with each other once again.
SDAFF’s Public Relations Coordinator, Andrea Baek sat down with Jinhwa to get to know more about her work and inspiration.
Andrea Baek: What is your main source of inspiration? Is there a place or a time where you feel most inspired?
Jinhwa Jang: I always loved to draw the scenery of Seoul and Shanghai. For now, when I hang out with my illustrator friend, we talk about work and about passion projects, and that makes me want to create something.
A: What are your favorite, hidden spots in Seoul (or in other cities you’ve lived)?
J: Rotary Sweets in Mangwon. They also deliver fresh cakes and cookies to my door.
A: There’s a phrase in Korean that’s 소소하지만 확실한 행복, or 소확행, that means small but certain forms of happiness. What is your favorite form of 소확행?
J: I started to grow plants at home recently, and walk my dog. That’s the 소확행 I never felt like a happiness before, and now it’s the most enjoyable time those days.
A: Your work reflects the cities in which you have lived and the people you’ve met while living there — do you have any stories of a specific person or stranger that has most affected your work or frequently appears in your pieces?
J: I haven’t drew specific person in my work except the ones I drew my nephews upon their request. I try to keep certain distance between the crowds or strangers in my work and the audience. I drew each strangers lively and individual in my personal series work Festival Days, but they aren’t looking at us or feeling to close to us.
A: What is the future you imagine? Either of your work or for the world, is there anything you’re especially looking forward to?
J: I’m not much optimistic for the world. I hope I can learn and experience new things, draw a lot, and keep my dog and plants well.
A: What is the meaning behind your piece for SDAFF? What stories do you imagine in the world you’ve created for SDAFF’s identity?
J: In each frame I wanted to deliver different stories and characters. The cityscapes are from the pictures I took in Shanghai and the references of San Diego. The bottom left is the green plum juice Korean mother makes when my stomach aches. I used black and dark colors a lot but also wanted to keep the festive feelings with city lights and bright patterns. I drew audiences small to make the feelings they’re watching the huge film screens, hoping they enjoy the festival!
A: And finally, what does art mean to you? How has your identity affected your art, and how has your art affected your identity?
J: It’s my job, but also it makes me feel want to improve myself, and learn something new. My identity affected what I experience and what I see and draw.