Instagram: @mihwakim_illustration

1. What’s your story? Where are you from?

Hello, my name is Mihwa Kim. I’m an illustrator and picturebook maker. I was born and raised in Daejeon, South Korea, moved to Germany in 2008 and have been here since. Currently, I live and work in Berlin with my Partner. From my childhood to now, quite probably like other illustrators, I liked drawing and painting the most. So I live by making choices to keep drawing. 


2. Tell us about your aesthetic.

My ultimate aesthetic goal is to create a certain atmosphere. I hope that images of air, temperature, weather, light and shadow, sound, flavor and fragrance stay in my paintings. Furthermore, I want them to be indirectly multifaceted experiences for those who see them. It is a great pleasure to think about and arrange the elements that make up a painting, such as color, shape, light, shadow, and line etc, to create a steady atmosphere or to set some mood. My own experiences, imagination, feelings, opinions and perception are often the subject of my work and I create my Illustration by gathering my own scene, rhythm and meaning.

3. What is your favourite medium and why?

I usually draw with a computer. The program I use the most is Photoshop, which saves time and I like the freedom of a computer program to try out various things. Other than that, I like the feel of the silkscreen process and results. Also, I plan to paint a lot of handmade pictures, it is really nice to get away from always looking at pictures on a small monitor, draw with big movements while using paints on a large screen.

4. What is your artistic process like?

I usually start working with certain keywords. It’s often a word, but it’s a misty, vague thing that’s also a feeling or an image or something I’m not able to explain. In order to materialize it, I keep thinking about images and atmospheres in my head in my daily life before starting to paint. After that, once I have a rough plan, I collect references and try different drawing styles while sitting in front of the computer or drawing by hand. Once I get the right clear direction, I tend to speed up my work. So, I think this kind of pre-process of work is very important to me in the whole production process.

5. Who and/or what inspires your work? 

Too many! These days, the weather, dreams, and various scenes I saw on the web and in reality have a lot of influence on my mood and inspiration.

6. What role does art play in your life? How does it change the way you view the world?

Art has been the love of my life. It’s like a destination that I don’t know where the goal is, and I don’t even know if it exists, but I want to keep reaching it. There were times when I couldn’t draw for a long time because I wanted to do so well and it got to be so hard to love. In the past, I gave too much meaning to art, but now, I want to get out of that desire and make it like a lifestyle. I want to make art a part of my life so that I can look at it more comfortably, clearly, love consistently. At least, art could be a companion by my side when I would be negative.


7. Where did you study?

I graduated with Diploma at the University of Applied Sciences Münster, Germany in 2013 and with a Master of Illustration at the University of Applied Sciences Hamburg, Germany in 2020.

8. Where do you see yourself in five years?

It’s a difficult question. As an illustrator, I would like to continue publishing books that contain my drawings and stories. I hope that the illustrator’s job will be more stable around that time than now, and I would like to live without much difference from today. Other than that, maybe am I starting something new? Like being a mother, exchanging help with people, doing other jobs at the same time, living in a new place, starting a new business, or learning something new.

9. What about in ten?

If you’re asking about future dreams or plans, actually, I don’t usually live with many plans for the future. I just wish I was in a state where I could care for and love my paintings and myself more than I am now.

10. What do you hope to achieve with your art?

Paintings are for me like a kind of communication. Picture language is indirect, but I think it is a more honest, pure and rich language. I want to communicate with people often through this picture language. Up until now, I have only used paintings personally as a means of illuminating myself, but from now on, I want to get away from myself and see and learn the world better to cultivate and expand my painting world and language system. I wish through my illustrations I could communicate more with people and be loved more, but I guess that’s just my desire. At least, it would be nice if my paintings could be conveyed to the viewers in a small and calming touch.


11. Now, tell us a little more about you as a person: what is your favourite food?

Oh, this question is difficult too. I have too many favorite foods. I think I like simple recipes and classic flavors. What I want to eat right now is Gyeran-jjim, a Korean steamed egg dish. Think of the texture as something between an omelette and a pudding.

12. Favourite book?

Books by Astrid Lindgren and John Berger

13. Favourite genre of music? 

I don’t listen to music by genre, but I get excited when I hear alternative rock and British rock from the early 2000s, and I seem to often listen to electronic music these days. I also like background music from movies and games.

14. What are your hobbies? 

What I often do in my daily life is probably watching a movie, taking a walk, cooking, plant caring, or doing Yoga. Recently, I also tried to learn Korean folk painting and art psychotherapy. If I had more time and money, I would also want to learn shooting, ceramics, taekwondo and travel much more countries. 

15. If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?

If I were a perfumer, that would be great too. I am not a person who prefers direct things, so I think I would have become a person who creates and shares indirect and small experiences.