Getting to Know NYC Illustration Artist Moonsub Shin


Courtesy of Moonsub Shin

New York City based Korean Illustration Artist Moonsun Shin will be collaborating with Classical Pianist Jeeyoon Kim on an exciting new project:  ‘Over. Above. Beyond.’  Jeeyoon’s National CD Release Concert’ will be held on December 9th at the Auditorium at The Scripps Research Institute in San Diego (La Jolla).

‘Over. Above. Beyond. Ticket Link’

Jeeyoon’s concert events combine dazzling technical mastery and profound musicianship with her personal commentary on stage. The ‘Over. Above. Beyond.’ concert will also feature a unique collaboration with Moonsub Shin’s newly commissioned art. Each of the twelve drawings by Mr. Shin depicts a movement of  Variations on an Original Theme, Op. 21, No. 1 by Johannes Brahms, nicknamed the ‘philosophical variations’.

Here is our SJF Communications Q & A Interview with Moonsub Shin and Susan J. Farese:

SJF: Please tell us a bit about your upbringing.

MS: I’d lived in Daegu, South Korea until 2007 when I came to the United States. I was a normal kid who loved drawing. When I was a high school student, I decided to go into the art-field. However, my parents didn’t allow me to enter the art major for college right away. They wanted me to study media and society first, so I choose Advertising and Publicity for my college major. After I got my Bachelor’s degree, I studied art to prepare for art school.

SJF: Where did you study visual art/ illustration?

MS: In 2009, I was admitted to the School of Visual Arts (SVA) BFA program for Illustration and Cartooning in NYC. I studied for 2 years, then prepared for the MFA program in the same school. In 2012, I started  the SVA MFA Illustration as Visual Essay program and received my Masters degree in 2014.

SJF: What compelled you to collaborate with Classical Pianist Jeeyoon  Kim?

Moonsub Shin’s Drawing of Classical Pianist Jeeyoon Kim, Carnegie Hall, December 14, 2017

MS: First, I love Classical Music. When I was a student, I drew musicians frequently because their playing motions and feeling are a great theme of my work. So collaborating with Music as an artist has been one of my desire projects.

SJF: How did you decide to pursue illustration (rather than other visual arts, such as painting, sculpture, photography etc.)

MS: Actually, I wanted to be a character concept designer in an Animation Company such as Pixar or Disney. When I sought the ways to be a character concept designer, I found that studying illustration was one of them. So I decided to study illustration. However, while I’d studied illustration, I fell into the enchantment of it. Illustration should contain characters, color, appearances, feeling and storytelling at the same time in an image piece. I really felt these features.

SJF: Tell us about last year when you watched and did several illustrations of Jeeyoon’s Carnegie Hall concert?

MS: Carnegie Hall where she performed was really fit with her performance. I was compelled to draw her performance. The Piano, Carnegie Hall, the microphone stand and Jeeyoon – everything delivered stories to me so I really enjoyed that drawing time.

SJF: What inspires your art?

MS: Everything. Mostly, memories are strongly working when I get the inspiration. If something may contain some sources related my memory, it would inspire me.

SJF:  You seem to be doing lots of cup drawings. How did you start with your cup drawing art? Can you explain more about the process?

Follow Moonsub Shin’s Blog with his coffee cup drawings and videos on Tumbler

MS: I used to draw cafe interior sketches in my journal but I now draw them on paper-cups instead. People loved it so I’ve been doing Paper Cup Drawings since then. Every cafe has their own paper cup, which means it contains each cafe’s identity. I think every cafe’s paper cup can be a distinguished canvas to draw the cafe. I try to contain each cafe’s specialty on the cup and it is still going on.

SJF: Do you get paid/compensated with the cup project?

MS: No, It is my personal project. I just visit some cafes with researching (but sometimes visit accidentally). Sometimes, when I give the cup drawing to a cafe, they present coffee or some goods. Recently, some company gave me a brewer machine. What a kind company…

SJF:  Do you give them the cup when finished or keep it for a collection?

MS: I draw two cups. One is for my collection and the other is for the cafe.

SJF: Will any of the cups illustrations be mass produced?

MS: No, but some cafes request my illustration and some items with my illustrations – like mugs, sleeves, packages or boxes…

SJF: What is your hope for this project? TV? Other recognition?

MS: Um… Actually, I just want to collect paper-cup drawings. There is no specific purpose. I love coffee and cafes and this project is a really good motivation to reach another world – coffee. Because of this project, now I know many coffee people and it opens my eyes to the other world where it is not about an illustration. So this project is not only a simple personal project anymore. It’s brought many opportunities to promote me as an illustrator and extend my work abilities.

Now I have one dream. Visiting many cafes in the world and make as many cup drawings as I can. This project will be ongoing and I want to visit the West Coast as well as other countries where coffee is popular, such as Italy, Australia, France the UK and Japan. Finally, I want to have the exhibition when I collect over the 300 cups. I wish it. I’ve visited over the 100 cafes in NYC, Portland, Seoul, Jeju, Busan, and other cities.

SJF: Do you have any role models, female or male?

MS: Jean Jacques Sempe’, French illustrator. He is my role model. His lines are dramatic and deliver all kinds of emotions and stories in a single piece of an image. He knows how to use the drawing line to present image scenes. He’s never wasted drawing lines.

SJF: What does the phrase ‘Over. Above. Beyond.’ mean to you?

MS: Something, that is not Music but still is in the Music.

SJF: What are 3 values you believe in?

MS: Love, Faith and Faithfulness

SJF: What do you do for fun, hobbies, interests outside of illustrating?

MS: I love Coffee. Visiting cafes and enjoying the coffee is part of my life. Also I love to make coffee at home

SJF: How did you collaborate with Jeeyoon in the project, ‘Over. Above. Beyond.’ with the Brahms’ variation Op. 21, No. 1?

MS: First, I just listened to the music over and over again. Sometimes, I really focused on the music and other times, I just turned on the music while I worked.

When some images were released from my brain, I  sketched them. When I repeated these process, I got some frames of the whole images.

A few days ago, I met Jeeyoon and she played the Brahms’ variation Op 21, No. 1 in front of me in the studio. While she played the variation, I made images more clearly.

When some parts were not clear to visualize, we discussed and found the theme and image that were good for it.


SJF: Have you ever worked with performing arts and drawing art together in the past? What is your general thought in terms of this kind of collaboration?

MS: For the fashion brand “Nan Seo”, we collaborated when they had a photo shoot for their F/W campaign. The theme was “Dancing with Father” and they hired a dancer. She was dancing on the beach and I drew her and a model.

Illustrating for the performance is not just drawing the scenes. It has to contain an invisible source such as sound, feeling and atmosphere. Also, I should make one scenery image that presents movements and time. So I have to listen to my emotions while I see and hear the performance and then find out the good images from my memories. It is the simply one process with complex steps.

SJF: Thank you so much Moonshin. It was great to get to know you and I look forward to your collaboration with Jeeyoon Kim at her national CD Release Concert, ‘Over. Above. Beyond.’  – December 9th at the Auditorium at The Scripps Research Institute.

TICKET LINK for Classical Pianist Jeyoon Kim’ – OVER. ABOVE. BEYOND.’ 12/9/2018 Concert

Follow Moonsub Shin Illustrator on FACEBOOK

Instagram: @Moonsub


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2 thoughts on “Getting to Know NYC Illustration Artist Moonsub Shin

  1. That was fascinating. Hearing the inspiration, process and elements of the illustrator in his collaboration with the pianist was intriguing.

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