I am pleased & honored to introduce to you this amazing Korean-American kidlit illustrator.
Welcome, Sairom Moon!
I like to draw from my joyful imaginations. I love the feeling I get when people sympathize with the happiness I render in my drawings. That my drawings can arouse people’s positive emotions in this tough world, pleases me and motivates me to keep on drawing.
Does your name have a meaning and has its meaning influenced your work in any way?
My name means “new” in Korean. I did not deliberately try to live like my name, but I think it suits me very well. Just like my name, I have always pursued original ideas and created my own world in my mind. Ever since I was little, I found different ways to draw things around me. Many friends drew animals and people in a similar way, but I did not follow the fixed methods. I would ask questions to myself like ‘Why do people’s faces have to be round?’ or ‘Why can’t a bunny’s ear be longer?’ Such doubts allowed me to draw different from others. People would say “Is it because her name is Sairom? Her drawings are new and creative!” and such compliments gave me confidence and eager to draw more of imaginative creations of my own.
Do you like to draw directly from nature, allowing nature to inspire your work? If so, explain your process.
Nature takes a big part in my drawings. I go out in nature as much as I can, because I think it is important to actually see and feel the beauty of it in order to express the elements in my drawings. But I prefer drawing alone in my studio rather than sketching things outside in nature. I do take photographs but I seldom refer to them when I am drawing. Instead, I put the beautiful scenes in my eyes and alter them in my mind. This way, even the smallest elements of nature wear my style when they are drawn out on my sketchbook.
When you receive an assignment to illustrate something, like a picture book text or a poem, what is your process? How do you try to personally connect with the material first so as to illustrate it authentically?
Usually, I associate the assignments with my childhood memories. For example, for “In My Suit” in the September 2015 issue of Ladybug, I recalled days I played with my siblings in the mud on rainy days. Adding some creative elements such as activities that I would like to have done, I completed a more personal and intimate drawing.
How has your cultural background influenced your illustrative style, your voice?
Korea is strongly based on Confucianism, which nowadays is shown as very intimate relationship between family members. My father especially emphasizes this importance of family relationship to me and my siblings. He always has, and still plans family trips and all kinds of events to keep us close. Naturally, I spend most of my time with my family than anyone else. This close relationship and love for my family has definitely inspired warmth and love in my illustrations. The cute and funny actions of my subjects are mostly from observing my lovely family.
For example, in my Valentine’s Day illustration, the bunnies are exactly the image of me and my siblings. When we were little, we used to search around the kitchen to secretly eat all kinds of sweets that our mom had hid from us. I would crouch down and let my sister or brother to step on me when reaching high shelves. Just like this, memories with my family have become the biggest source of my illustration and for my drawing’s familial atmosphere.
What helps you remain inspired with regard to illustrating for children?
It is very encouraging to hear people say how my drawings are heartwarming, which I think is the best compliment for an illustrator for children. When they kindly describe to me why they liked this and that about even the most trivial things that I drew, I feel happy that I have provided them with simple pleasures. Each and every comment is precious and becomes a great stimulus for better illustration.
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