A Chat with Haein Kim

A Chat With Haein Kim Interview KIN

Illustrator and 2D Animation Director Haein Kim is a contemporary artist with a growing body of work. Based in Sydney and growing up as a woman of colour, Haein’s funny, tongue-in-cheek creations are also a reflection on some honest realities. We love the individuality within Haein’s style of illustrations. The abstract expressions of facial features, exaggerated proportions and bright colours caught our attention. Haein’s animations give life to her illustrations. The storytelling is unique with a huge kick of humour - you’ll realise what a funny chick she is. 

Peepin was co-directed with her partner Paul Rhodes and featured at Pictoplasma, KLK animation, Flickerfest as well as being nominated for AACTAs as Best Short Animations. If you haven't already, check out her selection of work we featured in "Tell It Like It Is!". Get to know a little more about Haein in our Q&A below!


Give us a little background about yourself :)
I'm a Sydney based Animation Director and Illustrator~ I grew up in Western Sydney and thought I was going to be an astronaut.

How would your mates describe you? 
Hm depends on who you're talking to! Ideally it would be funny and hard working :--)

What is the framework/philosophy behind your practice? 
Tell it how it is! 

What or who inspires you?
I Iove Misaki Kawai's work so much. I love her playfulness and colours. She's such a great inspiration to me, especially because she is a woman of colour dominating the art world, one butt joke at a time.

Your illustrations come through in comic format as well as animations. Could you take us through a bit of your creative process and what your favourite mediums are? 
I find drawing on paper most therapeutic, but I think the most rewarding medium is animation as it's so arduous and you have to be persistent. The feeling of completing a piece of animation and watching it over and over again... that amazement is still not lost on me. And then piecing together a story that you've been working on for months and seeing it come to life- it's actually magical. In my mind it's like giving birth. 

"The feeling of completing a piece of animation and watching it over and over again... that amazement is still not lost on me."

Wish I could’ve been at your exhibition last year “Teach Me How to Be Human” with your partner Paul Rhodes at The All Story gallery in Newcastle. Tell us more about how you both interpreted the ways of being human!
It was a fun concept about mundane human activities from the perspective of a robot or alien, but mostly we just wanted to draw fun stuff! It's the little things that make us human c: 

What’s it like working with your partner Paul?
It's the best and worst haha! When it comes to animation, I'm a bit of control freak to be honest (poor Paul)... but I think we really do work well together! Paul's better at coming up with ideas, he’s always got a funny story up his sleeve. We can do the whole pipeline of animation together between the two of us, from concept to post including sound design. We argue alot, but we also have a good few lols too and at the end of the day I feel blessed to be able to work with my best friend.

You’ve also donated your work at a charity art exhibition “We’re the Women” to raise money for the Women and Girls Emergency Centre in Redfern, Sydney. What was the experience like?
Yeah that was a really fun little project. It was nice to know that I was able to contribute in my small way to help women in need. A bunch of lovely lady illustrators all contributed a piece each to be sold as limited edition prints to fund women who need a safe space away from domestic violence. 

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In what ways are women supporting women important for you? 
I try to depict primarily WOC in all my work. Growing up in Australia, I was never exposed to seeing people like me in Western culture (cliché I know). It's kind of heartbreaking to me, remembering growing up thinking no boys would ever find me pretty or attractive as an Asian girl because all the movies absolutely prized skinny white blonde girls. I want to represent my WOC sisters and show that we are also beautiful! I love drawing big dominant women who physically take up all the space of a page. 

"I want to represent my WOC sisters and show that we are also beautiful! I love drawing big dominant women who physically take up all the space of a page."

Do you feel any challenges being a female artist? Or any learnings being a woman breaking into the space?
I think the challenges are more from a racial barrier than a female one. In my experience I've generally always felt that being a person of colour was more a blockade than my being a woman. I've been in alot of spaces where all the important decision making figureheads are white, and people of colour are the cogs. I hate that, I want to see more POC in leadership roles and having their share of the cake. I think diversity is so important. How can you expect different stories to emerge if everyone in the boardroom are from the same shallow pool of knowledge? This world can benefit so much from POC being visible and heard... so many different ways of tackling an issue or approaching storytelling and so on.

Any words of wisdom you'd like to share with other young artists out there
Just do you sis! And keep going c:

What’s coming up for you next?
A few little things here and there, I'll be teaching at the University of Technology Sydney soon for Animation which I'm so honoured to be part of. I'm also working on a short film with Paul on top of trying to flesh out our new studio/brand 'Bubble Brain'. Right now it functions as an animation studio, but we'd love to branch out into fashion, merchandising, comics and so much more! 

Follow Haein and shop for her awesome prints here!


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