Graphic Designer Sylvie Kim

Sylvie Kim was an Ashcan Studio student 6 years ago in our Visual Arts Portfolio Preparation program. She worked tirelessly on her portfolio and successfully entered her first choice school, The School of Visual Arts. She and I have remained good friends, so I have been witness to the growth of her success as a Graphic Designer. She presently works as a Graphic Designer for the design firm Nice Ltd. She’s also worked for Saks Fifth Avenue, Barneys New York, Big Ant International, Dataharvest, and Anthropologie.

Sylvie is a gifted designer and she is lovely inside and out. It was great catching up with her again and seeing the product designs she is making now. Her design aesthetic is fun, complex yet minimal and clean and I am certain that her career will continue to flourish and grow.

Hayley Palmatier

Director, Ashcan Studio of Art

Sylvie Kim

 Hayley: When were you a student at Ashcan and how was your experience?

Sylvie: I remember my first day at Ashcan. Usually people visit studio before attending but I was in California, so I called. After I talked with the Director Sun Young Kim on the phone, I really trusted him and the studio. So I flew to New York. I went straight to the studio when I got to New York. I was really excited to meet the teachers. They were really nice and tried to help me to finish my portfolio, which was due in just two months. I spent most of time in the studio except when I slept.

Ashcan Studio has the same environment as an Art School and it helped me adapt when I went to Art School.

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by Sylvie Kim

Hayley:  Where did you end up going to school and what are you doing now?

Sylvie: I went to the School of Visual Arts and majored in Graphic Design. Now I am working at a packaging design company.

Hayley: You have worked on many different projects throughout your career, what was your favorite and why?

Sylvie: Most of my work at this company entails designing packaging for beauty products. I have designed packaging for companies such as Covergirl and Max Factor. I am a women and I also use cosmetics so it’s fun to design cosmetic products. It’s interesting being a customer and being a designer. It helps me understand the target audience.​

Hayley: How would you describe your approach to design?

Sylvie : When I was in school I didn’t have actual clients which gave me more creativity and freedom. However, at work I am a team member, I have a boss, clients and product consumers. Designing involves working closely with people, it’s not only about making the product pretty, but making the client happy too.

​Hayley: What would you say is your strongest skill?

Sylvie: My experience. I’ve had many internship experiences. It gave me the opportunity to learn about American society and culture. It helped me decide what I wanted to do after I graduated.

Hayley: Do you think that your background in fine art/drawing /painting has been important to your success as a graphic designer?

Sylvie: It is very important to have drawing/painting skill as a graphic designer. Graphic designers do not only use computers, often we need to draw textures that a computer rendering can not express.


Hayley: What do you think is the most fascinating design trend right now?

Sylvie: I think the trend in graphic design right now is minimal flat design. Minimal flat design elements are replacing skeuomorphism. Skeuomorphism means “the subtle representation of a physical object in design”. Simple and minimalist design increase understanding of a product. Technology is getting very complicated. Because of this graphic designers are finding ways for people to understand products without having to spell it out.


by Sylvie Kim

Sylvie’s website:


Summer Program Scholarship Recipient Shekinah Guab

Shekinah Guab is one of three Ashcan Studio Summer Program scholarship winners. She was referred to us by Lisa Feder- Feitel of Alliance Summer Arts Program (ASAP) at The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, and also highly recommended by her high school art teacher. The artwork and essay that Shekinah submitted for review were outstanding and we could see that she had the talent, dedication and intellect that we value at Ashcan Studio. We happily awarded her a scholarship to study in the Visual Arts Summer Program from July through August. ASAP graciously provided Shekinah with a metro card for the subway and a gift certificate for art materials. We are proud of her for the work that she has made and continues to make here.

Below you can see her work and read the responses to the questions Scholastic asked her about her time at Ashcan.

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 Shekinah Guab at Ashcan Studio 

Scholastic– Was your summer program in your hometown?  If yes, describe your experience being away from home.

Shekinah– I didn’t mind being away from home, the commute from home to Ashcan Studio made it even more fun and adventurous. Experiencing the feeling of working in an art studio for the first time was enjoyable. It was all art art art which is basically a fun time for me since all my attention was focused to what I am very passionate about.


Scholastic– What did you gain from your summer program experience? What new techniques did you learn? What new skills did you develop? If so, describe these.

Shekinah– Throughout the summer program I learned to be able to push myself to success. The struggles I faced along the way gave me the motivation that enabled me to feel a sense of achievement. I really feel like I have grown as an artist.

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Shekinah Guab’s work in progress at Ashcan Studio 

Scholastic– How did participating in the summer program with other creative students affect your art/writing?

Shekinah– Being with other creative students was a great experience, rather than competition I viewed them as a big influence, as their artwork motivated me to improve.


Scholastic- How did working with a professional artist or writer influence your work?

Shekinah- Working with professional artists influenced the way I went about my work, through their assistance I was able to improve my skills in art making. With my Instructors at Ashcan I received advice that was very relevant and helpful. I was able to pick up things that they taught me a long the way.


Scholastic- Describe a project you completed during your summer program. Tell us how it was helpful developing your creative skills.

Shekinah- One project I completed was a painting “Silver Lining” which is oil on canvas. This painting was part of an exhibition titled “SAFE ROOM” at The CUE Art Foundation, located at 137 West 25th Street. The show featured the work of Ashcan Studio of Art’s Summer Program students. My fellow students and I presented work in many different mediums for an exhibition about disasters–either natural or human-made–and how we can overcome them.  I focused on the effects of natural disasters, specifically a typhoon, on the natural environment and the people who experience it. I wanted to convey dread and a sense of survival and hopefulness for a better future. Aside from the rescuers the majority of  figures in my painting are children since people are more likely to sympathize with images  of children. Working on this project actually opened up my understanding in regards to color choices in particular. From the advice of two of my art teachers, I refrained from using too many different colors that would overwhelm a viewer. I ended up using the a lot of the color blue not only to convey an emotion, but also a sequence that guides the viewer’s eyes from one subject to another.


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Shekinah Guab at Ashcan Studio 

“The background is actually a blending of two separate  scenarios to make it more creative and abstract. My teacher and I had a discussion about this at the beginning stages of the painting, when I was sketching ideas (I didn’t have that part included originally) and she recommended that I do that. On the top part of the painting I painted a typhoon in the sky as it moves toward the area where it is about to hit. Slightly below that I painted an “after-the-storm sky” when the sun peaks into the clouds a bit, the sunrays hitting the mountains show the “rays of hope” or some sort. The middle ground is the disaster as the rescuers help the victims. The foreground is the ‘attention grabber’ or the ‘mood maker’ element of the painting, a child watching a man drag the dead body of her parent. I’m actually really excited to build up this painting because its my first time working on a project so big.” – Shekinah describes the making of her painting “Typhoon”



Shekinah’s work in the SAFEROOM Exhibition  at CUE Art Foundation

Scholastic- Will you use newfound skills, techniques, influences you learned during the summer program in your current projects? Please give examples.

Shekinah- Of course, in my Sculpture classes I learned a great deal about wire sculpturing, although my skills at it aren’t all that great yet. I plan to practice wire sculpting in the future. As for painting, I plan to use my new understanding in color choices and incorporate them into my future projects.


Scholastic- What do you want to do as a career when you grow up?

Shekinah- I would like to be an Illustrator, or maybe an art teacher.


Scholastic-  If you would like to pursue a career in the arts, how does participating in the sumer program influence this career choice?

Shekinah- The Safe Room project gave me an understanding of how it would feel working as an Illustrator. The most important lesson I learned was the importance of meeting a deadline, with out sacrificing quality or conveying a very strong message. I learned that the work should not only please viewers but also myself, the artist as well.


Scholastic- Which College/University would you like to attend?

Shekinah- SVA

La Vie en Rose- Interview with Illustrator & Graphic Designer Lea Mairet

Lea Mairet was a student in our Portfolio Preparation Program a few years ago. She is a recent graduate of Parsons where she majored in Illustration & minored in Graphic Design. Lea came to New York from France and she was one of our first European students! She is so sweet and spontaneous and genuine as you will see from her responses to my questions. It was fun catching up with her and great to see how her work has grown over the years. She definitely has a promising career as an artist/illustrator/designer ahead of her.

Hayley Palmatier, Director

Ashcan Studio of Art


The Lovely Lea Mairet

photo Kyoko Kureda.

Hayley: You just graduated this past May from Parsons! Congratulations! What was it like at Parsons? And how did you end up there?

Lea: Yeah I did! Thank you! So, my journey in the creative/ art field was pretty long. I went to art high school in France and then I went on to study classical fine art at the Art Students League. After that, I went to Ashcan Studio, and then to Parsons.

When I was first in NYC, I was comfortable with the US in the sense that I found a host family that is now part of my ‘real’  family, no matter what immigration says. However, I wasn’t familiar with the way schools ran in the US, or how to apply. I didn’t know the requirements for a portfolio and after asking everyone I ended up at Ashcan Studio.

The work I made at Ashcan for my portfolio allowed me to be awarded a pretty big scholarship to study for my BFA at Parsons. This scholarship came up at a great time because my parents were in the middle of a divorce- a REALLY LIKE HATEFUL DIVORCE, there was A LOT of familial strife since my father cut all contact with us- until his girlfriend would fantastically one day understand that she should have to respect his past life. And so I really needed it. Without it I wouldn’t have been able to finish my four years.

Actually, Parsons was a complete accident because I applied to only two schools; SVA- that was my first choice, and then Parsons. However, when I went for an interview at Parsons the admissions counselor Sophia (I remember her name) was nicer to me. I mean just the vibe and the whole talk …  it just went better. I really did have a nice exchange with her, and Parsons offered me a scholarship that was way higher too.

I see my journey a little bit like music- at first you see the guy singing and then you see ok, this is rock or this is pop. Then you decide that you want to start making music, and you have to start with all the classical unknown or ridiculous songs. Some people will tell themselves- I’m not that not good, I am leaving or whatever, some will tell themselves I’m going to go straight to being a pop star, and some, like in my personal case are like Ah…. there is this Manouch French Jazz and I love that combination of styles, I want to do that! This is an example to illustrate but basically, I started and I wanted what I thought was simple, and now I am doing illustration and a certain type of graphic design and layout because this is what I love to do.


 Hayley: What was your major at Parsons?

Lea: My major was Illustration with a minor in Graphic Design. My required classes were in Illustration, and all my electives- besides my independent studies with Ben Katchor for comics- were graphic design based. I took additional classes during the summer to be able to complete a minor in Graphic Design.

So as a consequence of my personal experience, I have three different yet essential skills which are fine art, illustration and graphic design. Yes, it does make my life a complete mess sometimes, but my life is busy and I am really happy because it helps me to not lose steam on the projects that I am working on, because they are diverse.

Going to Parsons was one of the best choices in my life. Most people who apply don’t get in, and I can say that I feel complete in a sense, and proud that I studied Illustration and Graphic Design as a double major at Parsons. Parsons really helped me to develop my work to a professional level.

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Hayley: What was life like in art school?

Lea: I don’t really know. I mean you will always have those who are not really into it, and those who are actually trying to figure out their identity as artists.

It’s very funny because at Parsons, my Professional Practice teacher was like “in the real world no one cares if you went in art school.” It’s partially true in the sense that people don’t pay attention, and that if you grab the reins yourself you can learn anything that you want to.

Art school taught me how to advocate for myself. For example- at my level I can tell from a drawing on the web if the artist did study art or not, my eyes see it. Once I saw a drawing of a French rap artist on Facebook and I was LIKE OH MY GOD THIS IS OUTRAGEOUS THANK YOU. I printed the portrait, kept it and with my client I was like ‘this is what someone who has never studied does- look at all of the mistakes and this is what someone who actually studied art does- there is huge difference’ and I got the project because of that.

So I loved art school because I really took it like a learning environment where I could constantly develop my work and myself as well. And now I almost exactly know what I want to do for my career.


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Hayley: What was your experience like as a student at  Ashcan Studio?

Lea: I was a student at Ashcan Studio, for about a year and a summer. I was slowed down applying to schools by my parent’s divorce, which was happening right at that time. I felt kind of like I was on a long distance war field with them. So I continued my studies at Ashcan a little longer than most students there. I felt supported at Ashcan during this hard time by my instructors and other students, that is one of the reasons why Ashcan Studio is still very important to me.


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 Lea in her studio at Ashcan 

Hayley: So you would recommend going to Ashcan?

Lea: I would totally recommend going to Ashcan for several honest reasons. Seriously we have to be true at this point and say the truth. Being a foreign student, which is the subject of my thesis and unfinished graphic novel, the whole game is different. I have a lot of American friends, and speaking to them I have found out how different the process is. As foreign students, we have to keep in mind that our status is different.

Here are some examples:

1. As an international student it’s important to get a scholarship, because of the lack of financial aid available to us, and also I feel that I got a scholarship mostly because of what I learned at Ashcan.

2. It’s also really good to make friends in a new place where you’ve just arrived, this is really important, and I made a lot of new friends at Ashcan.

3. Many people do not realize that it’s very difficult to get into the different art schools, and later in to careers in the various art fields- and that if you don’t start training before college, you are more likely to get lost.  I have seen many people change once they’ve graduated and say ‘this is not what I want to do’. Going to Ashcan Studio helped me to do this pre-work and being there I found my Identity as a creative

4. Ashcan helped me to understand an educational system that I didn’t know about. I mean unless you have experienced life as an International student, you wouldn’t really know that your status changes everything.

5. Ashcan studio helped me make my work valid and I learned a creative process that I later developed even more during my years in college. At first I didn’t know what I did, but because I was trained in a new way of seeing and thinking, I know that what I do is valid. This helps me now to turn down jobs where the employer doesn’t see my worth as an artist and designer. I know that I need to work with people or for someone who actually recognizes people in the creative fields and trusts their vision. I am at an advantage because from an early stage I have been educated in places where I was trained well as an artists and an individual.

When I went to Ashcan for the first time I was the only white (non asian) student, and then after I started, people from different countries started to take classes. But at first I was the only one and I called my father and I was like is this really for me? And to my father- who is a huge fan of Asian cultures (at one time he and I studied various asian philosophies together) the answer was clear right away: this would be the best experience that I could have. He told me that he would help me pay for it, because Asian people tend to have the best work philosophies. The next Saturday, I came in and my seon-saeng-nim (which means teacher) showed me to my desk and he said: “ I’ll give you the one that faces the wall, it’s better for concentration.” I didn’t say anything but I was like holy cow my father is right!

That day, and for many days after, I sat there next to Jin Hee and she was my first friend in my age range and now we are roommates.



Hayley: What are the best things about being an international student in the US?

Lea: Honestly, I could go on about this forever, but the most important is that I learned that the world of art and design has a global language.

I have learned so much from Korean and Japanese cultures and their design aesthetic, I learned that the American culture is a work in itself. Learning about different cultures has had a huge impact on me as a person so as a consequence my work has grown.

Being able to be trained by Americans, Koreans and teachers and Professors from all over the world at Ashcan Studio, the Art Students League and with master artists and designers at Parsons has had a huge impact on developing my sensibility as an artist. An artist can copy a style or be influenced by someone and use it, but no one can replace your own distinct sensibility. The moments as artists when we build thoughts, contemplate our experiences and consider ourselves as creatives are what make us unique.

My experience as an international student is what led me to make a graphic novel on the subject, to describe how it is to discover a new culture as a student. It’s a lot of work to grasp a new culture and honestly it’s really hard but it’s also so much fun in so many ways. I explored all of it in my graphic novel.

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Hayley: Do you have a good story about Ashcan?

Lea: I don’t really know, I had such a good time there. Something ultra important to me about Ashcan is that all the people who I was really close to at Ashcan are, to this day, still my friends. To me, this is kind of funny or a form of life irony, but Yong Seon, Jin Hee, Summin, Hey Weon and Carole we are friends. Which I am absolutely delighted about that.

Ashcan did become a  good community of people for me which is so good, rare and important. It was nice to be around people who are equally passionate and interested in the same things as me. When I graduated I started to see people who have a day job, and at five or six they are done and they are like ‘hey I am into watching this TV series’, and you are like ‘Hey I want to do my own work, and my own thing’ …they don’t get it. But I have many friends who do get that, and it’s nice.

At Ashcan there were circles of influences around me that totally understood me and shared a similar lifestyle. So, for me this is more than a good story it’s actually kind of amazing.


Hayley: Is there an event or experience with another student or instructor that you are especially proud of?

Lea: I am really proud of the work that my friend who I met at Ashcan, Jin Hee, has done with her final thesis this year. I have seen her evolution during all of these years and for me this is amazing. I am also so proud of the work of Ashcan Instructor (seon sa eng) Dong Hoon because he and I are so into the same thing, which is comics and he has also done animation. So, I am trying to get him to go to the New York Comic and Picture Story Symposium with me. I am also really proud of the fact that the team at Ashcan studio has really pretty much stayed the same, and that they have all of these extra events, and that they actually do care about their students past and present. I am so proud of another friend Yong Seon who this year fought way more than I did to get in to the Fashion world, while I have been more stubborn and have followed my own ideas. I am really proud of all of us actually because we are still doing what we set out to do, and I know firsthand that this is not an easy path. It’s too easy to be- I am sorry but it’s actually accurate it’s so easy to be a “ dick” in the Art World. It’s so easy, and I am proud that we are all doing it in a good way. It’s way harder but it’s a thousand times more admirable.


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Hayley: What did you learn at Ashcan that will help you succeed in the future?

Lea: I mean I learned so much, I think the things that have helped me the most are the benefits of hard work, and how great it is to be part of a creative community. Spending all day every day working on a portfolio takes over your life,  and it was nice to have friends there doing the same thing. And the work philosophy that I learned at Ashcan I seriously use in my day-to-day life. If today I am multi-tasker it is because I came to understand that I had to be, for so many reasons, by watching Instructors at Ashcan studio.


Hayley: Now that you’ve graduated how do you feel about starting a career as an artist & designer?

Lea: Jobs in art and design are subjective jobs, and this is the main reason why people are like… “We don’t want to pay you for this and that…” It’s because there is a misunderstanding about what being creative is. There is actually a process where you have to pick up the materials you’re using and make things and it become a habit in some sense. How you personally start from nothing and turn an abstract idea into a real thing


Hayley: What inspires you?

Lea: I really have a hard time pinpointing the things that inspire me. But if I really have, I think that what inspires me is being a human being in general. I started to get interested in Graphic Design when I saw that Illustration majors were mostly only people drawing and painting animals doing humans things and I was honestly a little bored of it. Not that I do not like animals. I have a cat that is actually my roommate and I do love him a lot, he sleeps next to me and I am totally crazy about him.

Most of the themes I work with are narrative so my work is very human life oriented. I am really interested in the lives of people from different cultures.  There are elements of topophilia in most of my work as well. Lately I have done a lot of one-page comics where the reader has to insert a their own place. So the ‘place’ is beginning to appear more and more.

Then, I also obsessively read a lot of comics. My New York and French comic book collection is pretty decent for someone of my age, because I read all of the different categories, but the comics are my ghost inspirations.

When I find an author that I like I become obsessive, and I have to read everything and know all about it, and its a blessing and curse because I really do learn a lot on my own. But I because I’m reading them so much I don’t do as much of my own works as I could. If I look at it closely, I can say that independent comics attract me the most because the drawing is particular and the story as well. That s why I decided to do a blog along with mine on Tumblr for that.


Hayley: What are your goals as an artist?

Lea: That s a really good question. I would like to end up finding a balance between writing stories and making the comics that I do, and graphic design which is really interesting for me. Making comic stories takes forever and I love it. I love everything about it.

So my goal would be to be able to make a name for myself in order for my work to be trusted, so that the companies that are hiring illustrators know that I will do a great job for them. I am just starting to work on that now that I’ve graduated.  I love layout in design and independent comics and illustrations and I want to live and be known in the field for it.


Hayley: Thank you Lea

Lea: Thank you so much all of you I love you and I would like to see you again very soon. And I have to thank my dad too, I am really thankful for what my father has done. He made all of this possible for me.



Lea will have two books on sale by the beginning of July

Raphael Dream, which is a children’s book and We Should See La Vie en Rose

Follow Lea here:



Purity for Kids

Su Jin Lim was a student at Ashcan in 2009, and is a recent graduate of Parsons Illustration BFA program. Each day that Sujin was here at Ashcan she made me laugh. She has a dramatic, honest and unpredictable character that I love. She definitely has real star quality. Between that and the appeal of the work she was making, even then, I knew she was going to be a success in no time.  In Bologna, Italy, Sujin’s “Fire” pieces were chosen for exhibition in the children’s book fair in 2011. She’s already shown her work in Hong Kong, Singapore, New York, Miami and Seoul. She had her first solo show in Chelsea when she was just a junior at Parsons. I was there and it was a great show with a huge turn out.  

You can see more of Sujin’s work here:  I like that she’s not afraid to use glitter, and buttons and lace, and I love her titles (MISS YOU, YOU!) almost as much as I do her sensitive, playful work.

Hayley Palmatier, Director

Ashcan Studio of Art

“Lim is an artist who deals with seemingly simple pictures and emotions, but she is highly effective in making them stand for things larger than they are. In doing so, she is a true artist.” Jonathan Goodman, Art Critic    

Hayley: Where did you study?

Sujin: I graduated from Parsons The New School for Design 2013 Spring.

I am currently active in my country Seoul, Korea. And I also exhibit in Hong Kong, Singapore and New York.


Hayley: What was your major?

Sujin: Illustration


“To her credit, her images memorably display some of the hardships of being human, with figures whose colorful details and simple vulnerabilities remain in our minds.” Jonathan Goodman, Art Critic  

Hayley: What was life like at Parsons?

Sujin: There are many international people at Parsons. I had the opportunity to be taught by professors from many different countries. And every student there had different views and concepts, So I was able to learn about various fields.

Also, There are many famous instructors teaching at Parson, and most of them teach various skills.



Hayley: When were you a student at Ashcan Studio & what was your experience?

Sujin:  I was at Ashcan Studio from the summer of 2009 until the Winter of 2009. My experience was that I learned skills in all different types of media. For example, there are many different classes at Ashcan Studio like figure drawing, oil painting, collage, fashion modeling, still life, mixed media, and 3d class. I think it was very good for learning before going to art school.

Hayley: What is the most important thing you have learned art an artist?

Sujin: As an artist, I always of think who am I? I am influenced especially by my childhood memories and by unforgettable experiences in my life.

Hayley: You are invited to take part in exhibitions quite often. Can you tell me about that experience, how it started and where you are now?

Sujin: When I was a junior at Parsons, I had a chance to have a solo exhibition at Able Fine Art NY Gallery in Chelsea. The director thought that my main character resembled the work of the famous artist Yoshitomo Nara and she was interested in my cute characters. The gallery has locations not only in Chelsea, New York but also in Seoul, Korea. So I had the opportunity to have my 1st solo exhibition in New York in 2011, my 2nd solo exhibition in New York in 2013, and my 3rd solo exhibition later in Seoul, Korea. In addition, my work has been exhibited at many art fairs (Hong Kong, Singapore, New York, Miami, Seoul) through this gallery.




Hayley:  You have a very clear and consistent aesthetic as an artist, where did that come from and do you think it’s a factor in your success as an artist?

Sujin: I think artists have to be honest characters. I have always based my work on my emotional feelings and how they change everyday. That’s why my main character seems to be a crying baby girl. Also, I like to communicate to pure-hearted people (children’s book artists and children) and I love to read children’s books.


Hayley: Do you have advice for artists who want to participate in gallery shows?

Sujin: Each gallery has a different style. The most important thing is that there is a match between an artist’s style and the gallery’s style.


Hayley: What are your goals?

Sujin: I think I should learn more and more because I do not have all the confidence that I would like to have yet. I will learn from various influences in my life and exhibit various places around the world. Also I want to communicate with all of the pure-hearted artists in the world.


 “In a novel manner, Lim finds pathos in the midst of her child-like figures, who innocently enact the rituals of play in an attempt to offset the anxieties of human exchange.” Jonathan Goodman, Art Critic 


   “Lim is particularly good at maintaining her cast of characters in scenarios that involve pathos but also considerable amounts of love.” Jonathan Goodman, Art Critic 





A film students journey from Ashcan to RISD to NYU

Julia S. is an Ashcan graduate who got one acceptance letter after the next when she applied to art schools, including The University of Southern California, RISD (where she did her first year), The University of Michigan and Pratt and Carnegie Mellon ART- both with an impressive scholarship award. Now she’s at NYU where she’s majoring in Film and Television, working on stop-motion animated films. I am happy to see that her knack for storytelling through art has taken a turn towards film, it seems to me a natural step. She’s so sweet and was a joy to have as a student at Ashcan. I loved the work she made here, each piece was like a glimpse into a fascinating fairy tale. She has continued to come to Ashcan sporadically ever since she graduated from here in 2012. Because of this I have been able to hear about her new projects and the puppets she makes by hand for her films.  I enjoyed sitting down with Julia again to hear more about her new ideas and processes.

Hayley Palmatier

Director, Ashcan Studio

Hayley: Where do you study now and what year?

Julia:  I am at NYU, as a first semester Junior Film and Television Major focusing in Stopmotion Animation and minoring in Web Design & Computer Applications.

Hayley: We’re both really interested in puppets and stop motion animation, so it has been fun talking with you about it and sharing films and resources with each other. What film are the photographs of the puppets from?

Julia: Yes it has! It’s always nice talking to you. I always learn about so many artists and new things! The film of the photo’s I showed you is called ‘Playhouse Pirate.’ It is a dialogue-based animation about a first date, (Nathan and Jenny’s).  They are both shy neighbors and bond one afternoon while watching Nathan’s pet.  That evening they go to the local Playhouse and while on their date have a strange encounter with Pierre, who sits directly behind them. Pierre, is introduced visually in the beginning and mysteriously reappears throughout the five minute animation. He is the playhouse pirate as the viewer will see by the end. I am green screening this film still and should have it fully completed by end of May.

animation_still_1film still from the film titled ‘Playhouse Pirate’ by Julia S

Hayley: I’m looking forward to seeing it completed. What is life like at NYU?

Julia: Life is hectic in that we get a lot of assignments and the turn around (deadline) is generally pretty quick. However, this is what makes school projects exciting. I also learn a lot because I’m asked to try a lot of new things that I would not necessarily do on my own.

ANIMATION SETfilm still from the film titled ‘Playhouse Pirate’ by Julia S

Hayley: When you were at Ashcan you worked so hard to make -what turned out to be- a very impressive portfolio. What was your experience like making a portfolio for art school  at Ashcan Studio?

Julia:My experience was wonderful. All of the teachers at Ashcan know a lot about technique and working with different mediums and are extremely insightful. When I came to Ashcan I knew I wanted to study in the arts, but I did not know specifically what I wanted to do. After experimenting with a wide range of projects I was able to get a better sense of what I like.

And also, at Ashcan I met a student who lived a town over from me who I did not previously know. We both attended RISD after Ashcan and are close friends to this day.


13 copyLife size drawing by Julia S 

Hayley: What is the most important thing you have learned as an art student?

Julia: I have learned that creating quality work takes a lot of hard work and in many cases a lot of tries. I have learned that you have to be persistant and be passionate and not give up on a project when it does not go your way the first time.

Hayley:  How did you become interested in stop motion animation?

Julia: I am interested in working with a lot of different mediums from sculpture and painting to writing. Stop motion seemed like the perfect solution to combine all of my interests.

Hayley: When you told me you were making this type of film it made a lot of sense to me. What are you working on now?

Julia: Currently I am working on a new animation about a young lifeguard’s first day on the job.  It also has a comic twist. I completed the set and the puppets but am finalizing some details.  I hope to have this animation done by the end of summer.  I believe I have made a stronger set and better puppets for this animation than my last.  I also hope to try new techniques like eye blinking, a walk cycle and better lip-syncing.

Hayley: What is your puppet making process like?

Julia: The puppet making process is exciting! I use wire and epoxy to make my armatures and whatever other clays and found materials I can access  to build my characters up.  Shockingly, my favorite thing to make is the puppet’s hands.

Hayley: Who are your favorite animators/films?

Julia: I particularly like Adam Elliot because of his unusual characters and quirky dialogue. I also am greatly inspired by Allison Schulnik’s creative character based worlds.

Hayley: Yes, they are both great. What are your goals as an Artist and Animator?

Julia:   My goal is to continue to grow and expand my skillset and make work that I am proud of. Down the road I hope to make an animated feature that relies on imagery and strong dialogue to tell a compelling story.

ANIMATION SET1film still from the film titled ‘Playhouse Pirate’ by Julia S

Hayley: I am sure that you will reach that goal! It has been so nice talking to you.

Julia: Thank you Hayley, you too!


Black Holes, Carrots and Bunnies in polka dot Underwear

Junghwa Park is an Ashcan graduate who is hard not to notice. She is a prolific artist who continually reveals an ever-changing array of new illustrations, fine art work and adorable products. When she was a student at Ashcan I would look forward to seeing her new ideas, and I still do now. Her characters include a reoccurring Bunny Girl, Bunnies, red polka dot underpants– Bunnies in red polka dot underpants, she has definitely created her own friendly and innocent world. I can’t wait to see what her characters will do next.

Hayley Palmatier

Director, Ashcan Studio

Screen Shot 2014-04-09 at 2.02.30 PMoverwhelming beauty, Illustration by Junghwa Park 

” All the questions surrounding us are human- made, and every answer lies in nature”  Junghwa Park

Hayley: Where do you study now and what year?

Junghwa: I am a senior at SVA.

Hayley: What is your major?

Junghwa: My major is illustration. But I keep taking fine art classes. It helps me to have a wider range of sight than if I were just taking illustration classes. It allows me to meet more people and talk about different topics too.

Hayley: When were you a student at Ashcan Studio?

Junghwa: I was a student at Ashcan Studio every summer 2007-2009.

Hayley:What was your experience like making a portfolio for art school?

Junghwa: I had to go to Ashcan Studio everyday 10am-8pm. Even if it seems tough, it was not to me. I was so energetic and had enthusiasm because I could create whatever I wanted to everyday.

Screen Shot 2014-04-09 at 2.02.10 PMcatching carrot, illustration by Junghwa Park 

Hayley:  Yes, I remember your enthusiasm, you made a lot of really great work. What is life like in art school?

Junghwa: It is like traveling all the worlds on the earth!

Life at art school is not only like exploring the world we live in, but also learning what kinds of different worlds exist and how people live there. Meaning that art school has allowed me to find who I am and how I look at the world. Of course, I am learning technical knowledge, but also processes that automatically make me think about who I am. Since art is creation, the artist becomes The Law in their creations. So, if you are not sure about who you are, you will struggle when you make art.

Also, I’ve learned how other people see their art during class critiques at SVA. Everyone has very unique personality and they live with their own sight in the world. Even inhabiting the same world, we live in different worlds with our own unique ways of seeing. In that way, life at art school is like exploring all kinds of different minds which feels like traveling to different worlds.

Screen Shot 2014-04-09 at 2.02.52 PM

on journey, Illusration by Junghwa Park

Hayley: Do you have a good or funny story about your time at Ashcan?

Junghwa: It was such a long time ago to remember it.. I think every moment at Ashcan Studio was precious. In a small room, we squeezed together with friends and art works all day. It was nice to work and hang out with friends at the same time in the studio. Later on, I felt like all my friends at Ashcan were family.

Hayley: What is the most important thing you learned?

Junghwa: The most important thing I leaned at Ashcan is that I have to treat my art preciously if I want my work treated nicely by other people. I remember a few other friends wanted to give small art works to teachers to thank them. But they never took a student’s work for free. They taught me how to appreciate my work and other people’s work.

JPdaily drawing Illustration by Junghwa Park  

Hayley: What inspires you most?

Junghwa: Everything inspires me when I am ready to be inspired.

Hayley: You’ve been really proactive in making and selling products that feature your Illustrations,  more than most students I would say, why would you say that is?

Junghwa: Do you mean why do I make and sell products? I always wanted to connect art and commercial. I keep working on fine art work, however, I do not want to be a fine artist showing at galleries. I did fine art exhibitions quite a lot after I came to college. But I did not feel satisfied with how the art work is confined inside the gallery. I want my work to be around people and a part of people’s lives. That’s why I connect my art with products. That way, people can enjoy my work in their daily lives.



Junghwa Park Products

Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 3.40.58 PM

Hayley: You did a huge job for Cafe Bene, how did that job come about?

Junghwa: There was posting on an SVA page from Cafe Bene. They were looking for an illustrator for a new project. I sent an email to them, and the art director really loved my work.


bunny books

Junghwa Park Products

Hayley: That’s so cool. I remember seeing your work covering this huge space, the whole street corner on 27th and seventh ave, near FIT. What are some new products and projects that you are working on?

Junghwa: I am planning new installation at public and performance at public as well. Also, more product for daily life is coming soon officially before next year.

(here is my essay for my work, dream, and future plan. I wrote this essay last month for class)

Find who you really were once you find nature of self-consciousness. The fundamental question I pose in my work is self-consciousness and processing of self-consciousness. Processing of self-consciousness is oneself  recognizes themselves by limitation between self (finite) and others (infinite.)  However, once oneself recognizes one’s limitation, that limitation disappears and struggles with new limitation. This is self-consciousness process that awareness of another’s awareness oneself through their own limitation. That limitation is flexible and infinite depends on who you are and how you think.


Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 2.18.43 PM

I have always been inspired by nature. Since I think about the nature of being human, I not only question the fundamental question of human beings, but also question the basis of where human belong within this grand scheme. People cannot deny that we are a part of nature and that we can never escape nature. Since nature exists we are created in the earth. I am inspired by this essential nature. All the questions surrounding us are human, made, and every answer lies in nature. Nature endlessly persists., we just tend to ignore or forget about it.

This question coincided with the beginning of my life in America. Since culture and language boundaries were a big communication problem for me, I started an internal dialogue, and was swept up in my own thoughts. Whenever I want to escape from reality, I create my own world through art. I did not necessarily understand what I was making, and only later realized that I was creating my own world from my dreams. Since I make work from my fantasies, art became my means of communication, overcoming the boundaries of culture and language. Since art asks fundamental questions it has fewer boundaries. Therefore, I can communicate my life and ideas.

With these ideas of nature of self consciousness, I want to communicate with people. My work creates half of the art—through my own thoughts and life. After that, the audience brings their own life and experience to forge meaning and complete each artwork. With real self mind, and universe question, I want to communicate with everybody without boundaries.

For the future, I do not only want to develop my idea as fine art, but I will also combine with commercial art. Therefore, people also can assimilate with art in the life without boundaries of fine art. Since I realized my art vaguely started my own world has message to the world, I want to develop my art with amazing people at fabulous place.

Screen Shot 2014-04-09 at 2.01.21 PM

underwater, Illusration by Junghwa Park


follow Junghwa on: 
facebookInstagramtumblr & check out her website

Interview with SVA Illustration major Minah Kim

About a month ago I noticed that one of our former students, Minah Kim, had suggested to ‘like’ her fan page on Facebook. When I clicked on the Minah Kim Art fan page  I was really impressed with the work she was making.  I had been thinking about interviewing Ashcan graduates to see what they have been up to, and I thought that Minah would be a perfect student to start with. As an Illustration major myself, I immediately saw the skill and professionalism in Minah’s work, although she makes it look easy with her smooth clean style- And the work is clever and fun, she is definitely an up and coming Illustrator to look out for.

I was so happy to finally catch up with Minah, she has an unmatched determination, she is a perfectionist (in the loveliest sense of the word) and she has a positive outlook on life that is infectious. Read about her experiences at Ashcan, what it’s like to be a senior at SVA, and what her inspirations and goals are. I encourage you to take your time looking at her illustrations; I promise it’ll be worth it.

Hayley Palmatier

Director, Ashcan Studio


Hayley: Where do you study now and what year?

Minah: I’m studying at SVA. I’m a senior student, preparing to graduate with my BFA from SVA soon.


Hayley: What’s your major?

Minah: I’m majoring in Illustration. Additionally, I’ve taken several classes in cartooning, for the Cartooning majors. There are many overlapping aspects between the Illustration and Cartooning programs, so I could take those classes as long as I got a permission from the Chair of the Cartooning Department.

Spring Break“Spring Break” Illustration by Minah Kim 2014


Hayley: When were you a student at Ashcan Studio?

Minah: The autumn of 2010, I was making my portfolio in the Pre- College Portfolio Preparation program.


Hayley: I remember fondly! What is life like now that you’re in art school?

Minah:I love being in art school, it’s like a bee hive. You know, the queen bee gives a mission to the worker bees, the bees help each other find honey and we bring fine stuff  back to the queen. It’s just like the relationship between the instructors and us at SVA. All the students are inspired by one another’s ideas, opinions, artwork and references. We improve our artistic sensibility along with our drawing skills under the instructor’s command. We support each other, help one another and we are growing together. Doesn’t it sound cool?


Hayley: Yes it does, and I like the analogy. What was your experience like at Ashcan Studio, do you have a good or funny story ?

Minah: I do have so many crazy stories about Ashcan and my instructors there. I literally tortured instructors to help me during my last few months there. I followed my instructors around, asking them all kinds of questions all day and tried to get any support I could. All of the students who were preparing their portfolios were very emotional and really sensitive, including me. I think I wanted to hear, “Don’t worry about your portfolio. You are doing fine”, because I would have felt relief to hear that comment. Thankfully, the instructors were never weary of teaching the students. They were always nice, gentle and coherent, just professionals. So I was able to build my portfolio on time for the SVA admissions deadline, and get the largest scholarship that SVA awards incoming students. I can assure you that I love all the instructors in Ashcan. And, I just want the rest of my experiences at Ashcan to be my secret, to save my face 😀


The Melting Pot“The Melting Pot” Illustration by Minah Kim 2014


Hayley: What is the most important thing you learned as an Art student?

Minah: Simply, I learned how to make art my own way. I learned that I am the only one in charge of my own visual world. I saw the other artists’ artwork and received feedback about my work from other students and the Instructors, so I could find out who I am, what I am good at, and what I want to draw. As an artist, you have to know what your style is and what your work is about. This is important when you are pumped out from art school in to the real business world.

Hayley: I agree, and from what I see of your current work, you are ready! What inspires you and the work you’re making now?

Minah: I would say everything around me does. Things that make me laugh, unique faces and fashion on the street, crazy combinations of colors, fascinating music and all different forms of artwork by great artists inspire me.

We Both Reached For the Gun“We Both Reached for the Gun” Illustration by Minah Kim 2014


Hayley: What are your goals as an Artist and Illustrator?

Minah: Grow, evolve, and to give my artwork to the world.
I don’t care much whether my work is loved or not. From the heart, I want to get better after each finished piece and have fun being an artist.

Hayley: Thank you Minah, it’s been so nice seeing your work, and catching up with you. 

Minah: Thank you, Hayley!


You can see more of Minah Kim’s work here:

and  her Behance online portfolio at



After Marriage“After Marriage”  Illustration by Minah Kim 2014