What you are about to read is an excerpt of Urban-Muse Magazine Issue #1, currently available as part of $5 pledge on Patreon.com. Over the next 2 months we will gradually be releasing all 20 interviews on the blog. If you want to read all the features, see the specific layouts/images chosen, read additional articles that will not be on the blog, view the images in High Res Lossless Quality, and support the project ensuring future issues can be made. Please consider supporting the Urban-Muse Magazine Patreon here:
Ruby Kim, a Korean artist schooled in the United States, is one of the most special artists in this issue. Ruby is you, she is an Urban-Muse fan. Years ago when she was finishing up Illustration school Ruby found Urban-Muse and the daily posts from top artists all around the world helped to give her the inspiration to persevere when she was struggling in school, to push herself harder and to finally finish her major. She has told me many times how important Urban-Muse was to her development as an artist whether it being the awesome artwork showcased daily there, to later days when she started getting her own artwork featured and building her own fanbase up.
About 2 years ago, if you were to ask me who Urban-Muse’s #1 fan was, who was liking EVERY post and frequently interacting with the page it was without a doubt Ruby. I added Ruby on Facebook and we became fast friends, not surprisingly nearly all of our interests were fairly similar. I created Urban-Muse for people like Ruby. I want Urban-Muse to inspire you, to make you want to go and pick up your pens/pencils, your paints, or your tablet and to get out there create! That’s why I made the slogan MAKE ART. PAINT THINGS. BE AWESOME. That’s what I want you to do and feel when you visit Urban-Muse, I want you to feel like you can do it too. I want Urban-Muse to act like…a MUSE!
Ruby typifies this, her work ethic is unparalleled and she is constantly creating new pieces daily and often revisiting older pieces of hers from months even years ago and refining them with her ever expanding talent. A couple years ago I encouraged her to start a Facebook fanpage, she was shy and unsure of herself but she did, I think I was the first person to like that page, and if you visit “Illustration of Ruby” today, she has over 10,000+ fans! Great Job Ruby! The sky’s the limit!
Ruby can sometimes get lonely and feel like she has no one in the world but her art to retreat to, we want Ruby to know that no matter what she’s got a friend in Urban-Muse.
Urban-Muse.com: Tell me about your time studying art at CSUN (California State University at Northridge). What were your most important classes? What were the most pivotal things you learned that you are still using today?
Ruby Kim: I cannot stress enough how much I enjoyed my time at CSUN. I met so many great friends, acquaintances, talented individuals as well as professors. I had such great memories in my illustration classes, and still wish that I never graduated (Almost~). I have learned so much during my five years stay at CSUN, I have grown as an artist as well as direction in my art. I entered CSUN without knowing anatomy and fundamentals of illustration. I was quite nervous, I wasn’t sure about myself and my art abilities.
I felt like a lot of the classes I was taking for my major (Art with emphasis on illustration) were important, only because I came to CSUN knowing NOTHING about the fundamentals, other than my passion for art. However, I do have few major classes in mind that really spoke to me, and is necessary and should be mandatory to take. Color theory, Anatomy/figure drawing, and composition.
Anatomy class is the basis that should be covered before taking other art courses , because it has taught me so much about how each muscles and bones are located in our bodies, for me to understand how body parts should be drawn.
Most of my illustrations are focused on portrait, therefore, Figure drawing was necessary for me to take and understand how facial muscles work and are located. Color theory has taught me about the color temperatures and how it can actually affect my illustrations’ mood. It was really interesting to learn about the color relationships and how it plays with our work. Composition class was one of the most hardest and emotionally draining class i’ve ever taken.
This class has taught me so much about the different composition the illustrations can go about, as well as coming up with the idea itself. The class required many time and days to complete the projects, it really teaches you about time management.
One of the Pivotal thing I learned would have to be anatomy/figure drawing. Being able to understand how our bones and muscles move really affect the things we draw. Still to this day, I struggle with the anatomy as well as perspective, but slowly I am trying to study through photographs and try to practice drawing my portrait, using many reference photos.
Urban-Muse.com: What would your advice be to someone thinking about studying art? And Perhaps to someone who is studying art right now, but is struggling?
Ruby Kim: Great question (haha), ah, this is quite tricky because, one part of me wants to say, ‘Yes! Go for it, you can do it, if you believe!” and other part of me wants to say, “are you sure, positive? Well.. good luck”. The old Ruby would have given a positive advice to the future artists in the making, but because I have been exposed to the real life of an ‘hungry artist’ pathway, I would like to give advice as if I was giving it to my younger self, who would have been in the same situation as this question.
The first thing I would like to say is, it’s going to be hard, frustrating and lonely. When you first start out it’s going to be hard because your art skills and abilities are going to be limited. This is going to be hard, and I as well struggle to this day about it. Try not to compare your art to other artist’s skills, the more you compare, your confidence in your art is going to fall. Second, always practice, always! Whenever you have the chance and time, try to draw something small, doesn’t have to be a complete illustrations, doodle is fine. Be obsessive towards art, try to draw one thing over and over again. It has helped me with my drawings, being obsessed with something can really help you as an artist. For example, I usually get obsessed over an anime or video game characters, such as Ellie from The Last of Us game. I would draw her over and over again til I feel like moving on to other characters.
Watch a lot of anime and animated films as well as manga/graphic novels. Try to imitate one of your favorite mangaka’s art style. I used to trace over Arina Tanemura (shoujo mangaka) art for practice and then gradually started to imitate her style in my art. Don’t worry about trying to obtain the ‘art style’, because that will come slowly, right now try to focus on the fundamentals. It also helps to seek out help from your fellow artist friends, hang out at a local coffee store or library drawing, and sharing tips with each other. It is also important to share and listen to other artists stories. If you know any professors in art field, do ask for their advice as well, take advantage of their wisdom and office hours.
To those that are struggling with art, let me tell you, struggling will never end, in my opinion. As an artists, we will always struggle trying to get better than the work we produce right now. It is going to be frustrating and lonely because, nobody is going to understand what we are going through as an artist, unless they are in our field. It is up to us to understand that it takes time and lots of practice.
I just want to say, if you are thinking about studying art, just remember, it’s not going to be a piece of cake. Art is just as hard as other subjects, maybe even more. It is a constant internal battle with yourself, and being able to improve as an artist. There is no answer in art, there is no limit, maybe that is why it is so hard.
Keep your chin up, and always remember to practice, be consistent and believe in your abilities. Good luck!
Urban-Muse.com: What Mangas are you Reading?
Ruby Kim: Currently I’ve been reading Haikyuu!! , Koe no Katachi (A Silent Voice), Orange (shoujo manga), Tokyo Ghoul, Daytime Shooting star. I am a huge shoujo manga fan, so I read a lot of fluffy love story plots. I started reading Arina Tanemura’s manga series such as “Kamikaze Kaito Jeanne” she was my main inspiration while growing up.
Urban-Muse.com: What K-Dramas are you watching?
Ruby Kim: Oh man… right at this moment I am watching HwaRang, Weight Lifting Fairy Kim Bok-Joo”, The Defendant. Even though some series I am going to be listing are from last year, I really hope you guys watch it as well, I recommend! (The Signal, Cheese in the Trap, Miss Oh Hae Young Again”, “Memory/晦橘)\
Urban-Muse.com: What Music are you listening to?
Ruby Kim: Music plays an important part for process in my art, there are just so many songs I like. I will try my best to pick few important ones I listen while I work:
*Chainsmokers (Feat. Halsey) – Closer (Jason Caruso remix) <–im obsessed with it still
*Coldplay- A Sky full of Stars
*Coldplay– Adventures of a Lifetime
*K.Will– (Growing) <–puts me in the emotional state for emotional art
*Maroon 5– Sugar <–all time fave!
*Naruto OST – Naruto’s Main Theme <–you can tell my taste in music all over the place at this point!
*Rhythmic Toy World– 未来への疾走 <– Japanese Indie band/pop band gives me life !!
*Stereo Dive Foundation- Daisy <—jfc.. I cannot stop putting this song on repeat! (ANIME OP/ED songs are love)
* Home Made Kazoku– No Rain, No Rainbow <– been with me since high school
*Aimer – VOICE
Urban-Muse.com: Who are you favorite artists right now?
Ruby Kim: Loish has been one of my biggest inspirations since middle school, and still look up to her, Ever since I discovered Punziella on instagram/tumblr, I couldn’t stop admiring her work. I felt like her art style spoke to me, love how she can captivate me with her simple yet unique art style. IIya Kuvshinov is my current main favorite at the moment, I don’t know how he does it at times. I admire his style so much! Hope I can be as great at him someday.
Urban-Muse.com: Who are you favorite classical artists?
Ruby Kim: I would say ‘Renoir’ and ‘Alphonse Mucha’. Both artists’ subject are similar interest to what I draw in my portraiture.
Urban-Muse.com: What has been the hardest thing about Art for you. And I don’t just mean technique. I mean it’s affect on your life and how you feel.
Ruby Kim: I think one of the hardest thing about Art for me is the ‘loneliness’ and the frustrations I go through. I really don’t have any friends or people near me in Korea that deal with art or illustration, therefore I have to figure everything out myself. When I say figure ‘everything’ out, meaning that because I don’t have someone that I can talk to about the same interest as me, I get a little frustrated. Not being able to talk about the passion and hobbies to someone is like not being able to sneeze, forever. If I have questions about an art technique or materials, I would have to use the internet to seek answers or through instagram/fb and such, however a lot of times I don’t get the answer, therefore I get frustrated and internally struggle by myself about it til I give up, and deal without it. I want to be able to hang out with fellow artists and doodle and talk about what kind of art each of them are working on. I just feel like it’s frustrating when all I can do at this moment is just show my fans the work I do through a screen and be like “Here, this is it! Voila!” To me at this moment ‘Art’ feels like being in a dream where you are trying to run away from some sort of creature, yet you can’t seem to run fast, just defies gravity slowly. In Korean there is a word called ‘堅絮’ which means ‘Solitude’, to me being an artist and art itself is a ‘Solitude’. As much as it sounds depressing, I use those feelings to my advantage in my work. I started drawing because of those depressive feelings, and a lot of times I try to keep myself in that state in order to create better work.
Urban-Muse.com: And what has been the best thing about art.
Ruby Kim: One of the best thing about art is that, it is limitless. I get to draw the things I want, eat, wear, even who I want to become! Even if I don’t have the money to buy things, I can just imagine the product in my head and draw them out on canvas. It just feels like pure magic at times. Art is also an escape route, there are times where I wish I could be somewhere else, and runaway. But art can help me run away from home without actually ‘running away’. Another best thing about art is that I get to be able to inspire other fellow artists/people. I am able to share my stories about my struggles during my beginning stages of my art journey to now. Being able to be someone else’s dream makes me feel very honored. Knowing I used to look up to other artists the way others are looking up to me now is quite surreal and magical. I want others to look up to my art and motivate and inspire themselves to become better.
Urban-Muse.com: What are your hopes, dreams, and plans for the future?
Ruby Kim: My hope is that, in the near future I may find an illustration related job, and being able to actually earn an income doing things I love. I want to be able to go back to California and attend conventions with my fellow art friends, and meet with my fans and being part of the artist alley at anime expo. I just want to be able to actually call myself an ‘freelance illustrator’ or a children’s book illustrator ‘Ruby Sueyeon Kim” with confidence, and not be embarrassed about not having a job.
Urban-Muse.com: Tell me about your Hamada’s project. Big Hero 6 seemed to have a big impact on you and your art for quite some time.
Ruby Kim: When I first decided to approach this project, the idea came while I was studying at CSUN in my Art 429 class taught by Professor Forcum. The class was mainly for portfolio building basis for seniors, and how as an artists (Illustrators, painters, photographer, etc) we were going to present and approach our work to the audience, and how we were going to produce our artists statements. The class required for us to come up with a long term project we were going to present to the professor, and the class itself, all the work we have produced from beginning to end of our last class session. The topic was to our own to choose, I chose to build up ‘character portraiture’ as well as ‘Narrative story telling illustrations’. In that moment, I knew I wanted to somehow puzzle in narrative story telling illustration ideas with Big Hero 6.
At that time, Big Hero 6 just have came out of the theaters, and once I have watched the film I was really struck with the Hamada brothers relationships. I am also the youngest sibling between my older brother and sister, and I guess you could say I somehow related to Hiro and his struggles in the film. Whenever I watch a film or shows, I always look into the family and friends dynamic in the plot. As I have mentioned, I have two older siblings, however, because I am the the youngest, we are five to six years apart in age (Quite the generation gap if you think about it). When I was a little kid, I remember my siblings and I would play Super Bomberman 3 , super mario, etc. on Super Nintendo, and at times I would watch my brother play Megaman or star fox for hours and hours. In those nostalgic childhood days, we were always together.
However, as we got older, my sister and my brother were to study abroad in the US , and I would follow shortly after (middle of 3rd grade in elementary in Seoul, Korea). As the years go by and as we age, so did the times we would spend together. The days we would spent hours playing video games and watching anime, soon gradually decreased. We all grew up, and eventually older siblings left for college, and I would see them time to time. It couldn’t be helped, and I understood but I still couldn’t hide my disappointment as the time went by. Whenever, I felt depressed and missed the olden days, I would aways think about those nostalgic childhood memories of us in Korea, huddled together in a small room with a TV, playing games on SNES.
You asked me why Big Hero 6 had such big impact on my life and in my art project which I call “BH6: The Little Hamadas”. It is because of those childhood memories I had as a kid. As I was watching the film, I felt sympathy for little Hiro. (spoiler alert!) After watching the scene where Tadashi Hamada dies, and Hiro had to go on with his life, I started to imagine all these emotions Hiro was going through. In that moment, I wanted to portray the life the Hamada brothers would have ‘HAD’ while their parents weren’t present in their lives, and Tadashi and Aunt Cass had to take care of little Hiro. Or how good of a brother Tadashi was to little Hiro during their childhood. As silly as it sounds, I wanted to tie in my own little childhood feelings and nostalgia in the little hamada project. It didn’t matter if nobody was going to notice this series/project, I wanted to make this for my own sakes and sanity, I wanted to imagine the ‘happier days’ for the Hamada brothers.
I didn’t have many friends while growing up as well, and because I felt the ‘emptiness’ with my siblings drifting apart in my life, I wanted to illustrate in a narrative style of Little Hamada’s life. Family and Friendship bond is really important to me in my drawings. I wanted to recreate the feeling of being wanted and loved by others through Hiro Hamada. I also had fun making up Hamada parents, to show how much of a loving family the two brothers had was my goal in this project. Still to this day, even after graduating from CSUN and Art 429 class, I am drawing out the little hamadas every chance I get.
Through my BH6: Little Hamadas project, I wanted my audience to feel warm and loved, and to show them they are not alone.
Urban-Muse.com: You started out as just a fan of Urban-Muse, I noticed you because your name kept constantly popping up in the likes box. There’s lots of artists who dream of getting featured on Urban-Muse, or another popular magazine/site. You did it, your art kept constantly getting better and better. And now you even have 10,000+ fans on your personal art page @Illustration of Ruby! What would be your advice to an artist who hopes to be featured on a good art site/magazine one day?
Ruby Kim: As I am answering these questions , I still cannot believe I’ve been featured on Urban-Muse. It has been my dream to be able to see my illustration on UM fb page. I remember the days where I would constantly scrolling through the site, being inspired by other artists and dreaming I could be just as good as they were . Never has I imagined I would be one of those artists now, it still feels like a dream. My advice to those hope to be featured on a good art site/magazine one day would be… be patient and work harder than you have before. For sure it isn’t easy, nor does it happen in a day. It takes a lot of patience and practice, and never forget the feeling of staying motivated and inspired. Always have passion for curiosity and don’t be afraid to share your work with others. Have hope and stay humble. Your time will come, just remember to keep on drawing.
You can follow Ruby’s work here: