New York-based illustrator
As a graduate of SVA’s MFA Illustration Visual Essay program, Vyolet Jin has worked hard to hone her style as a fun, energetic and colourful illustrator. Since graduating, she’s gone on to win the Paula Rhodes Memorial Award and give talks at SHOUTOUTLA and CanvasRebel.
It’s a budding yet flourishing career that’s the culmination of a lifelong passion. “The seed for becoming an artist was planted in my childhood,” she tells Creative Boom. “I remember I was always the kid who was so keen about art class and always loved doodling with my friends.”
As with many creative careers, though, her path was not smooth. Having come from a family with a finance and business background, Vyolet never expected that her dream of becoming an artist would be allowed to bloom. Luckily, she was mistaken.
“My journey of becoming an artist didn’t start until I tried to persuade my parents that I love drawing so much that I want to have a dedicated career as an artist,” she explains. “Much to my surprise, they supported my passion.”
Inspired by the loose painting and beautiful colours of Matisse and the disciplined yet free-form style of Picasso, Vyolet’s illustrations combine the two in her own inimitable style. Her influences aren’t just limited to the canon of classic painters, though.
“Although I don’t usually listen to K-pop, I love the design style of some K-pop groups like XG and New Jeans,” she says. “I like their Gen-Z energy and the combination of nostalgia and futuristic sci-fi aesthetics. The conflict and beauty of the unknown future resonates with the chaotic part of me.”
However, the biggest motivator behind Vyolet’s work is what she feels. “My emotions are the root of my creativity,” she explains. “I’m always intrigued by strong emotions and feelings. When my emotions are positive, they echo through the forest and between mountains; I am attracted to and ought to respond to them as a traveller.
“When it comes to my negative emotions, I feel trapped in a narrow box. To get out, I can’t help but break it from the inside, smashing the wall and kicking the ceiling.”
Speaking of her chaotic approach to her illustrations, Vyolet says that she’s attracted to making cluttered work because that’s how she interprets the world around her. “Imagine people as a radar display, and the outside world is constantly sending signals to you,” she says. “If a regular radar usually accepts 60-70% of the signal, my radar gets 90-120%.
“Growing up as a highly sensitive child, I always had to hold my emotions in order to not look too out of place. Drawing chaotic and cluttered pieces is a way to embody my overly intense inner perception of the outside world.”
To balance out any anxiety that may arise from these excessive radar pings, Vyolet has a special trick up her sleeve that prevents her from being overwhelmed: whimsy. “Adding the touch of whimsicalness into my art is like adding a pinch of sugar into a spicy broth or like the little mint on top of sparkling lemon water. It cools down and refreshes the original flavour.”
Balancing out this notion even more is a healthy dollop of rebellion. Vyolet delights in breaking the rules regarding her art, which she puts down to her background. “Raised in a strict and competitive educational home and school environment, I grew up encouraged by discipline to follow the standard path,” she says.
“Although I was good at fitting in my box, I always felt my expression was limited. As I started to discover my style and voice, I continued to draw inspiration from the standards of art — figure drawings, landscapes, composition, and colour theory. However, I have found that relaxing disciplines helped me to cultivate a unique and flourishing type of expression.
“My art breaks the rules by acknowledging the standards while playfully bending around them. I prefer a free-form style of drawing real subjects with exaggerated details because it highlights the most interesting things. I don’t conform to the rules because strictness restricts my creativity.”
The result is a portfolio bubbling over with unique, stylised illustrations depicting joy and euphoria moments. Does this reflect Vyolet’s view of the word? “I would say that deep down, I am mostly optimistic, but I’m not such a positive person in daily life,” she concludes.
“That means I always consider the world a fun place to be, and there’s always hope, even if the current situation is not ideal. But I can be a bit lacking in self-confidence sometimes, which leads to me feeling anxiety and overthinking.
“However, as I’ve always enjoyed the creative process, I subconsciously supply myself with hope and energy when I’m drawing; creating relaxes me and brings me hope and joy that I wish I could share with my audience.”
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