Illustrator Erin Jhi Brings Possum Love to VisArts Fall 2022 Class Catalog
Erin Jhi is an illustrator from South Korea who graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University School of Art and completed a 2021-22 Pop Residency at the Visual Arts Center of Virginia. Erin’s studio practice uses traditional drawing and painting to reflect cultural taboos, differences, and experiences which emulate the conflicting emotions of belonging yet simultaneously out of place. Her style is colorful, animated and whimsical which is the approach she took when illustrating the fun Possom series for the VisArts Catalog. Read this Q&A between Erin and VisArts to learn more about Erins style, influences and work.
VisArts: What inspired you to start illustrating?
Erin: My mom’s art inspired me to start drawing from a very young age. I grew up watching her create these beautiful paintings and illustrations. As I got older, she taught me the more technical aspects of art. I would go to her art studio and learn from her. We would also go to croquis classes together. I feel very grateful to have parents that are supportive of my art career.
A drawing of me drawing, drawn by my mom
VisArts: What inspires your work in general?
Erin: I’m inspired by stickers from the 80’s/90’s, vintage toys and furniture, hand-painted signs, and tattoo designs. I’m drawn to anything bright and colorful!
There’s a really cool antique toy store called Oddballs in Dumbarton that I really enjoyed going to when I was living in Richmond. It’s a *massive* store with all sorts of vintage toys and I could spend hours there. I get so inspired by all the toys and packaging designs!
VisArts: How would you describe your creative process?
Erin: I usually get inspiration whenever I’m walking around town. I take photos of cool things I see and keep them for reference. I love going to grocery stores just so I can look at cool label designs! I also have my iPad or sketchbook on hand. If I have an idea for an illustration, I would draw a really rough sketch and refine that into a final drawing.
VisArts: What was the inspiration behind the catalog design and the cute possum?
Erin: Richmond loves possums! They are so adorable and I think they represent Richmond pretty well.
VisArts: What’s had the most impact on your creativity/style?
Erin: Not to be cliche, but I think coming to America and going to VCU has had a huge impact on my style. When I lived in Korea, my art style was focused on realism and making everything in the literal sense. When I attended art school, I realized that my drawings don’t have to be photorealistic. I can just make things for fun because why not?
VisArts: What past projects are you most proud of? Do you have any exciting upcoming projects?
I’m really proud of my SPAM projects I’ve done over the past few years! I’m obsessed with SPAM and I made a recipe book, a pop-up alphabet book, and a series of paintings for the artist-in-residence show at VisArts.
I can’t tell you too much at the moment, but I am participating in an upcoming show with very very talented artists all over the US! The show will be held in Boise, ID 🙂