This week’s Spotlight Artist is Kior, a South Korea-based artist whose entry into the crypto art space coincided with her creative awakening, from focusing on client work to focusing on personally fulfilling and enriching creative experiences.

If I’m a big fan of your work, what do I already know about you as a person?

That I enjoy creating images that are readable. Most of my works start from my memos or journals about how I interpret the things that happen around me or to me. And I consider my artwork as a sort of record with a visual form. I hope my audience will have fun reading my artwork. 

“wind” by Kior

What’s the story behind your piece “The Beginning”?

It is about my respect and optimistic view of NFT technology and the space. “The Beginning” is the first piece of a series of three about my viewing of the NFT space: how I feel about it, what I have experienced, and what I hope to see. 

I have been in and experienced this NFT space since January 1st, 2022. But it goes back to about 9 months earlier when I started to get interested in artworks being on blockchain. It was right after Beeple’s Christie’s auction. I was fascinated by the technology that makes it possible to prove ownership of digital art. I wasn’t familiar with the technology of blockchain at all. 

However, seeing all those things happen — proving ownership of digital art, creating value out of it, and knowing that it is open to everybody — opened my eyes. I came to see that I could use it as well. As I learned more about the NFT space and experienced it, I came to realize that even though many negative and fluctuating events are happening in this space, it would be a new way to exist as a creator and that it will stay.

“The Beginning” shows the positive sides and feelings that I see and have of the NFT ecosystem.

“The Beginning” by Kior

Color of Spring is a beautiful collection and a collaboration between you and YINSIDEYIN. What was the process of collaborating? What did you learn from each other and the experience?

This was my first collaboration, and the whole process was enjoyable. Yin (@YINSIDEYIN) reached out to me when I was newer in the NFT space. Collaboration with another artist who uses different mediums seemed like a fun opportunity to step into new territory for me, so I accepted his offer immediately.  

We exchanged our process step by step, shared each aesthetical taste and references a little, and mixed his 3D render and my 2D painting in one image. It was perfectly worth experiencing. 

I asked Yin about this collaboration, and he gave this answer, “I think we started at a point of similar admiration for the beauty of Asian women. Kior’s work has a very soft and sweet appearance but with a dark twist. I think our collaboration also has that quality. I think I learned a lot from the process of combining our styles together.” 

I think we have a very similar view on this collaboration. I had fun working on it. It was great watching how another artist unfolds his story and proceeds with each step of creating. This whole process gave me a chance to look at my work from a different angle, and it would be the best part of this collaboration.

“Pink Imagination” by Kior and YINSIDEYIN

You have a very distinct color palette. How do you go about choosing colors to work with? How do you know you’ve got it right?

One of the merits of working with a digital medium is [that] changing colors is very convenient. I constantly test and change colors during the creation process to find new ways to use colors. In that process, I consider the contrast between different hues the most. I find fun in matching and playing with opposite colors with similar saturations. Until I don’t want to change them anymore. 

“Chain of Hands” by Kior

You have a lot of one-word titled pieces that seem of a kind. I’m thinking of “wind,” “breeze,” “duvet,” “shine,” etc. Is this a series? How did these come together? Do they fit together? 

These all are from one of my collections called ‘weather of minds.’ It is where I express simple impressions of my emotions, thoughts, or mental states through weather conditions metaphorically. It is like a journal that I leave in the form of an image from time to time. I titled them with one word because I wanted to make them as simple and clear as possible. So I chose the words that would show what I tried to put in the artwork in the best way. 

“rain” by Kior

Can you tell me what led to the creation of “Freediving”? Will you make more short films? Perhaps even sell them on blockchain?

It was created in mid-2020 when I was in between jobs. I have worked as a graphic designer for some companies and clients. And I didn’t think much about creating to express my creativity for myself for quite some years. 

Suddenly, I was put in a situation where I wasn’t employed and had time to use for creating things for my own joy. Just then, my brother and his friend, who are both musicians, made an album of their music, and they asked me about Photoshop to make the album cover by themselves. 

While talking about images and music, the idea of the album cover expanded to making a music video, and it just proceeded smoothly. And the animation ended up being submitted to a music film festival. And it was screened for the festival. 

It started with the simplest idea, but it widened my view of my own possibility for creating art. And, of course, I am willing to make more animations and am leaving the door open for the possibility of making them live on blockchain.

What does your creative routine look like? 

First, I pick an idea from my memos and then write about what message or story to pull out of it. And I start sketching what kind of visual elements I want to use. It is the preparation process of ingredients for cooking an artwork. If this ingredient looks good enough to me to make it turn into an image, I start to paint. After the painting is done, I polish the words a little for descriptions based on the writing from the beginning phase.

How often do you finish a new piece? How much do you discard?

Generally, it takes at least three weeks to finish a piece. I try to take enough time to make them look as visually satisfying and persuasive as I want. From the phase of rough idea sketching to the finishing phase, I repeat going forward and backward between the phases until I don’t find things to fix or modify in the piece. 

When I feel it is done, I leave it for a while and move on to the next piece. And then, after enough time passes, I go back to the former piece that I thought was finished. If I find something that doesn’t feel right in it, I fix it. If there isn’t a thing that I want to change, then it is finally done. 

Sometimes it feels like a frustrating way to create, but thanks to this back-and-forth process, I get quite satisfied with my work and don’t have to discard much. 

“Birth of Stars” by Kior

How do you stay inspired or motivated (two sides of the same coin, I suppose)?

Searching for other artists’ work, looking at them, appreciating them, and getting this feeling that I have a long way to go to do what I want is what motivates and inspires me.

If only one of your works survived you, and it landed in a permanent and prominent spot in a major art museum, which would you pick?

I hope I will make my best piece that can stay permanently in a museum in the future. I feel like I am at the early point of my career as a creator/artist for now and have much time to make artwork (I hope). But If I have to choose one of my works so far, I will pick “This art!” since it is about the pure joy of appreciating art.

“The art!” by Kior

What kinds of work are you most excited to create in the new year?

I am planning to keep painting and improving my visual language in the new year. But I also want to make a short animation like “freediving” with the same team I collaborated with for it.

What advice would you give your 20-year-old self about creativity and making work?

I will tell the 20-year-old myself not to be shy about showing my work. My younger self was too cautious showing her creativity and artwork, thinking hers were not good enough to show to people yet. I don’t think that can be a good approach to working in a creative field. It took a long time to become more confident about showing my work. It still makes me nervous when I show them, though. But overall, I am enjoying it very much.

“Delusion #3: Reveal” by Kior

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