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Meet Kim-Duyen Park

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kim-Duyen Park.

Hi Kim, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
As a child, I always love to draw and took art classes in school growing up. I was always interested in comics and cartoons. I love cartoons and anime like The Powerpuff Girls and Sailor Moon. I thought it would be so cool to be able to make comics and little cartoons. I would draw characters from The Powerpuff Girls a lot and made up original characters for mini-comic stories.

It wasn’t until junior year of high school, I started to make little slice of life comics about things going on in my life or my random thoughts. I mainly shared with my friends and posted on my personal Facebook for others to see like family and other people on my friendslist back then.

I had to also decide what I wanted to do going into college. In college, I was gonna do dental hygiene for a major because I was worried about the whole “starving artist” thing but was really unhappy so I decided to switch to graphic design as a major. I got really busy in college that I didn’t have time to draw much. I was more focused on design projects and things happening in college during the time.

I graduated college in 2017 and I had a lot of free time outside of work that I decided I wanted to do something for myself and have a personal project for myself. I found joy again in drawing slice-of-life comics about things going on in my life. In 2019, I decided to post comics and art regularly on Instagram.

I didn’t expect people to read my comics or look at my art, but it made me happy when I hear from others that they relate or they found comfort reading my comics or looking at my art. It makes me happy to know that my comics could leave a positive impact on a stranger’s life.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
I had some relatives not supportive or say things like “Oh nursing makes a lot of money” blah, blah, and such. Some relatives thought graphic design was the same as fashion design! I learned to ignore negative comments because some people might not understand there are ways to make a career as an artist. Sometimes it might not always be easy. I know sometimes I still get imposter syndrome.

Post-graduation, I felt that I applied to a lot of places and got rejections. I still kept going and looked for places for work where I could use the skills I learned in college. I got laid off from my last job due to the pandemic back in Oct. 2020. I was disappointed a bit, but I just thought of it as an opportunity in a way. One door close and a new one will open. I’m currently a freelancer and feel a lot happier. I know there are other types of struggles as a freelancer like being your own boss and sometimes you may not have control over things like the algorithm on the internet.

I learn to not define things by the likes and engagement because there is still more to being an artist. I learn you don’t always need social media to be a successful artist. There are some amazing artists I know who don’t have social media or even use social media much. I’m still learning and growing as an artist. Overall, I am happy and grateful for where I am now. I think my younger self would be proud that I kept going.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I am a freelance graphic designer and illustrator. Some days can be so different than others. There would be people who contact me to work on graphic design work or on illustration commissions. Sometimes I might get a lot of orders in my shop and other times I won’t have any orders for days.

I am currently working on a book called “Sunny’s Moments” which will be published in August 2022. It will be translated into Spanish and Japanese. In the future, I would love to work more with middle-grade comics and novels. I like to do more things in illustration. I’m currently making an illustration portfolio separate from my graphic design portfolio. I want to look for agent representation.

Some companies reached out to me to do a collaboration with them of my comics such as VT Cosmetics, Gaston Luga, Sudio, Scent Craft, and Homsto Printable Vinyl Stickers. In the past, I have worked as a graphic artist for Hanes and was an inventory photographer.

The crisis has affected us all in different ways. How has it affected you and any important lessons or epiphanies you can share with us?
One of the lessons I learned from the Covid-19 crisis is to work on your own craft and things that people can not take away from you. My last job was considered stable and a lot of people have worked there for over 20 years and more.

I assumed I would be working there for at least 5 years and then the pandemic happened. There was a group call that had over 15 people. They pretty much said we are all laid off after being furloughed for almost 7 months.

I had a gut feeling I’ll eventually get laid off so during my furloughed time I worked on my online shop and my craft. It just kinda sucks since there were people in that phone call meeting that had been at the company for like 15 years or more. I believe things will get better for everyone one day from the Covid-19 crisis and we will come out strong from this.

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