[Interview] Love Is In Small Things: Interview with Puuung

Puuung is a Korean animator and illustrator who, for the first time in her ten-year career, is exhibiting her work abroad. The works of this animator and illustrator, who has over 6 million followers on social media and many fans, particularly in Brazil and the United States, capture small but touching moments of everyday life. Her stories are universal and can be appreciated anywhere in the world. The Korean Cultural Center in Brazil, located in São Paulo, invited me to conduct an interview with the artist. We talked about her career, the challenges she faces as an animator and illustrator, and also her future projects.

1. What inspired you to focus your art on representing love in everyday life?

Since I was little, I've always loved drawing, and because of that love, I enrolled in an art college. Back then, I wasn't very good at drawing, so I just worked hard. When the school asked me to draw, I drew; when they asked me to think, I thought; I worked hard on everything they asked me without refusing. As I continued drawing for others, I ended up in a creative block, and the drawing I loved so much began to displease me to the point of wanting to give up everything. That's when I promised myself to draw at least one picture per day just for myself. Since it was a picture made for me, it was filled with things I liked, such as heartwarming stories, cats, and love. That was the beginning of the series that captures love in everyday life.

2. How do you incorporate elements of Korean culture into your artwork?

As I was born and raised in Korea, I feel that Korean culture naturally becomes incorporated into my work. I frequently portray scenes of couples on dates, consuming foods familiar to Koreans such as Bingsu, Tteokbokki, and fish cakes. I also draw date settings in real locations in Korea, like the Hanok Village in Jeonju, the streets of Myeongdong, and Deoksugung Palace. The idea is that if you're with someone you love, no matter where you go or what you do, you will be happy. I think it would be interesting to present dating routes in meaningful places in Korea.

3. Can you tell us about a specific piece in your vision that better represents love in daily life?

I would like to share a piece I created last year, depicting a scene of a couple sitting in a café, sipping coffee, and sharing a gentle kiss. This piece is not just an illustration but has also been turned into an animation. Sitting in a café under sunlight, smelling the coffee aroma, looking at your loved one and momentarily thinking you don't want this happiness to end, slowly closing your eyes and then opening them again gently. These small everyday moments are the beginning of my work, which I call love.

4. What emotions or messages do you hope viewers take away from your art?

My works are, in a way, little pieces of my daily life, but many people identify with these small moments. I believe this is very precious. I hope that when people see my works, they can feel warm emotions, reminisce about precious memories with their family and friends, and even find a moment of peace in their minds, reflecting on the meaning of love.

5. In what ways do you believe your art can impact people's perceptions of love and relationships?

Many people have expressed gratitude in the comments, mentioning how precious small moments can be. Reading these comments from those who view my works fills me with immense gratitude, and I believe that capturing the beauty of love blooming in everyday moments is truly meaningful and that I am doing good work. If we can recognize happiness and love in our daily lives, I believe each day will become more precious and fulfilling.

6. Are there any challenges you face in translating the concept of love into visual art?

Even after drawing about love for so long, I still find it difficult to express clearly what love is in words. Love is a concept that encompasses a complex and diverse range of emotions; furthermore, since each person feels and expresses love differently, it's not easy to capture it perfectly in a single scene or image. Because it's challenging to capture all its forms, I focus on small moments of everyday life. In the end, my drawings may only be small fragments of love, but I believe we can find great happiness in them. I hope that through my works, many people can discover these little loves in their daily lives and cherish their meaning.

7. What advice would you give to aspiring artists who want to explore similar themes in their work?

The theme of love is universal, but each person can feel and express it differently. It can be a good idea to find a unique perspective based on your own experiences and emotions. If you express love in a way that is unique to you, I believe you will create interesting works.

8. Reflecting on the past decade, how do you feel your artistry has evolved and grown?

As I prepared for this exhibition in Brazil, I looked through over a thousand pieces I've created in the past ten years. I felt that my drawing style had changed a lot, especially the sketches. Expanding my work from illustration to animation has significantly altered the feel of pencil sketches. In animation, it's crucial to have clean sketch lines to facilitate the process. Furthermore, I believe my approach to using colors has also changed, as I now employ a wider variety of colors. Personally, I've also matured a lot over the past ten years through many experiences. In the future, I will continue exploring the various forms and emotions of love, and I hope to create works that convey warmth and happiness to more people.

9. What have been some of the most memorable achievements in your artistic career so far?

One of my most memorable achievements was when my followers on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram surpassed 1 million. At that moment, I realized that people from various countries around the world follow and appreciate my work. This milestone was also related to my animation work. While my illustrations had been receiving love for some time, many people were not familiar with the animations I was creating. Nevertheless, I continued to produce them. With the rise of the popularity of YouTube Shorts and Instagram Reels, my animations started to attract more public attention. Animation requires much more time and effort than illustration, so I became even more grateful and happy for the support and interest in my animations. I want to continue spreading love and warmth to many people through good illustrations and fun animations.

10. Can you share any significant challenges you've encountered along the way, and how did you overcome them?

It was challenging to work against the clock to create animations regularly. Many times, I thought I could have done something different or better. It's truly difficult to craft a good story in less than a minute, and it's common to think that the animation could be more enjoyable if I had more time. However, the main reason for these thoughts seems to be my lack of directing skills. I am learning and reflecting as I create each piece, and I hope that over time, I can create a feature-length animated film.

11. How do you maintain creativity and inspiration over such a long period?

Constantly searching for materials has been a great help. I often look at background materials, imagining spaces and what characters would be doing in those spaces. There are so many beautiful spaces I want to draw, so it seems like ideas never run out. Additionally, watching other artworks is also very helpful. I watch a lot of animations and get creative inspiration in terms of characters, settings, colors, stories, and direction.

12. Have there been any surprises or discoveries about yourself as an artist during this journey?

I was surprised to see that my work brought more happiness and comfort to people than I had imagined. Initially, I started working for myself, but seeing people remembering their own stories and identifying with my work, I felt a lot of gratitude and fulfillment. I am learning even more about the power and value of love and art as I read messages from various people.

13. As you celebrate this milestone, what are your hopes and aspirations for the next chapter of your artistic journey?

I hope that my work reaches more people and brings them emotion and comfort. I am very happy that my dream is coming true with this exhibition in Brazil. Through this experience, I wish to continue holding exhibitions in other cities and countries. I want to visit many cities around the world, capture the places I've seen in my work, and incorporate the stories of the people I've encountered. I hope to connect with more people and spread the emotions conveyed through my work. Exhibitions in new places always inspire me and enrich my artistic journey.

14. Can you tell us what's your love language?

The true language of love that I believe in is love that manifests unconsciously through actions. Whether it's fanning someone sweating from the heat with a notebook, making a call just to hear a family member's voice without a specific reason, or handing a canned coffee to a friend having a tough day, I believe that love expressed through small gestures of care and warm attitudes is truly beautiful.

15. Could you share any upcoming projects?

In the future, I will continue to translate love into everyday life through my work. I started with a determination to draw for myself, and my commitment to enjoy my work led me to create animations. I want to continue working in a fun way, and if possible, I hope my drawings can bring comfort and joy to others. I will keep working hard to create these works. If given the opportunity, I would also like to try creating a series of longer animations. I am reflecting on and exploring different ways to express my work. I hope you will continue to follow my journey.

I would like to thank the animator and illustrator Puuung for the opportunity to interview her and for choosing Brazil as the first international destination to showcase her work.

By Honorary Reporter Nicolle Cristine Silva Ferreira from Brazil
Photo by = All the pictures were taken at the exhibition


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