Lives and works in Seoul, Korea
Tell us about yourself, how did you become an artist?
I have been working as a designer for a long time.
Design has grown through the nourishment of early art, such as Salvator Dali's Chupa Chups logo and Andy Warhol's Campbell Soup.
In design is the DNA of art.
Maybe the numerous years of design experience I gained were the process of internalizing art.
Currently, I am a visual designer and artist, creating experimental works on the border between design and art.
Xpression No. 1
What is your background? and how did it inform the focus of your creative exploration or the medium you're currently working with?
One of the key functions of design is communication.
Design is the process of discovering the essence of an object and translating it into the language of the masses.
I've been training the process and essence for a long time.
The collage I applied to this work is a technique to convey unfamiliar emotions by combining disparate materials.
What I hoped to convey with the heterogeneous characteristics of the collage is the cultural phenomenon that has grown heterogeneously in Korean society without the fusion of westernization and tradition.
I thought the collage technique was the most appropriate to express the current state of Korean culture.
What ideas interested you in the beginning of your practice, which ideas have you continued to explore, and where have they led you?
The greatest inspiration for me is the conflicts and problems of society and culture that exist in our time.
Conflicts and problems have always been there.
Although I may not provide a solution to the social and cultural problems of today, I think it's crucial for me to record the problems of a specific era as work of art.
I believe that the record of the age of art bestows new inspiration to the future society.
Blending : Gravity
Who were and are the biggest sources of your inspiration
Since the Industrial Revolution, design has played a pivotal role in leading the industry.
Design has given the industry a new direction through constant innovation, and many people have gone crazy about it.
I also constantly tried to innovate and change.
I think the innovation of design is the biggest inspiration for me.
I think that the attitude to challenge new things without staying anywhere is the greatest asset of inspiration.
Blending : Bongwhang
Where do you find inspiration?
My inspiration stems from understanding culture. Due to the geopolitical characteristics as a peninsula country, Korea has been influenced by various cultures. In the Middle Ages, it was heavily influenced by China, and in modern times, it was greatly influenced by Westernization. Amid these influences, Korea has struggled to retain its unique culture. The phenomenon of Korean culture spreading globally is, in this sense, inevitable. Cultures influence and oppose each other and create new forms. Understanding and observing a heterogeneous culture is a fate for me, who was born in this peninsular country standing amongst heavy waves of various cultures.
Coagulated Time : Shaman
Is there are a single work, project, or series that is pivotal in your current trajectory?
I am working on three art themes.
The first theme, 'Art in the Information Age,' is an experiment on the effect of the text, the basic unit of information, on art.
The second theme is 'Exploration of Space-Time'. This theme explores how dots, lines, and sides compose and relate to our surroundings.
Third, 'Coagulated Time' relates to the overlapping and clash between cultures mentioned earlier in this interview.
Among the three, I will introduce the second theme, 'Exploration of Space-Time'.
Spirit for Rectangle
How did it begin? and how did it evolve?
'Exploration of Space-Time' is the artistic record of myself working as a designer for many years.
We live in a space made up of basic shapes such as triangles, rectangles, and circles, starting from dots, lines, and sides.
'Exploration of Space-Time' is to discover the relationship between dots, lines, and sides, which are the basis of design, and basic figures.
The first series, 'Figure', is a work that utilized triangles, rectangles, and circles.
Figure for Triangle
'Connexion' symbolically expresses the relationship between the figures gradually fragmenting.
The second series, 'Solid Figure', utilizes basic figures to convey the process of dividing a side and becoming a three-dimensional figure due to shading.
'Spirit' is the third series that expresses the energy radiated by basic shapes in space.
'Exploration of Space-Time' is an inquiry into how dots, lines, sides, and basic figures form our surroundings, create space, and expand toward time.
Figure for Circle
What were important lessons in the process that you’ve carried forward with you?
'Exploration of Space-Time' was the process of realizing that dots, lines, sides, and basic figures resemble life and dimensions.
Just as life is born through cell division, the division and shading of surfaces created space and time of three-dimensionality.
I also discovered that lines make sides, and sides create a dimension called space through division, expanding into time.
This theme allowed me to discover the principles of the universe through our surroundings.
Solid Figure for Rectangle
What are you working on now?
I am currently running a design-based startup in Korea.
Art, design, and craft have been differentiated as society has advanced, but I believe that creation all started from the same root.
Accordingly, I am currently working on various experiments on how art, design, and craft affect each other and what homogeneity is as I manage the startup.
Spirit for Triangle
If you could go back in time to the very beginning of your art practice and give your younger self a single piece of advice what would it be?
I would tell my younger self, ‘Do what you believe in’.
Society has inertia to follow what is standardized or prescribed.
Creation is a continuous discovery and experimentation of inspiration.
Against one’s process of creation, society will constantly push the standards of common sense and norms.
I think 'do what you believe in' is advice that applies to younger me as well as myself today.
And lastly, I would like to express my sincere thanks to the staff who arranged this interview.
Spirit for Circle
About the Artist
Based in Seoul, Korea
As a visual designer and visual artist, Yongil Lee (born in 1974, Seoul) creates experimental works at the border of design and art.
He utilizes various computer tools for his work based on his rich design experience in visual design, product design, and web design.
His unique capability enables him to create works in a wide range of genres, including visual graphic works, interactive art, and media art.
He focuses on the historical record of art and works to discover inspiration for and document his work from the politics, society, and culture of the current era.
He was the winner of the Merit Award at 'Design for Asia' and the Best Design Company Award at the 'Korea Design Exhibition'.
Currently, he is running a design-based startup in Korea, creating experimental works that traverse the boundaries of art, design, and craft.
View Artist Profile