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A Letter Matters More Than It Seems

The Fu-Hyu Exhibition held from March 19-24, 2018 in Sinchuk Gangdang was a success. I would like to introduce an artist who was interviewed by the Hongik Tidings (hereafter HT), Lee Woo-Gyeong (hereafter WG).

Q: Please introduce yourself to the HT readers.

WG: I am currently a junior majoring in Visual Communication Design. This was my second participation in the Fu-Hyu Exhibition. I have also participated in exhibitions held by the Hangeul Font Study Club each season, so including Fu-Hyu, I have displayed almost four times a year.

Q: From the Fu-Hyu Exhibition, a favorite work of our HT reporters was your Little Encyclopedia of Neologism. Can you explain the motive of your work and why you expressed it in a such way?

WG: The theme of this 9th Fu-Hyu Exhibition was ‘untie’ and the basis from the Hangeul Font Study Club was a ‘knot’. So, I considered the theme of a knot getting untied then tangled once again. This process was similar to the way a newly coined Hangeul word becomes a trend then disappears and soon other *neologisms emerge. Although neologisms have always existed, I restricted the range of my exhibition encyclopedia to the late 1990’s to let the main readers of my work who would be in their 20s sympathize with the words more.

(*neologism: a newly-coined word)

Q: Why did you choose to study design?

WG: I, just like any other student majoring in art, was a child who loved to draw and wished to become a painter. During high school, while studying for the entrance exam for art college, I prepared for the design exams because I thought that I would fit in Visual Communication Design, since I like 2-dimensional art and I love to draw. The reason I did not choose to major in painting, but rather design, was because I was more interested in illustration than fine art.

Q: You seemed to be interested in a ‘word’ or a ‘letter’. I noticed that the field designing these is named ‘typography’. Can you describe the meaning for non-majors?

WG: Typography is a generic term covering anything addressing letters. When the metal printing method was generally used, the term ‘typography’ was meant for the process of type-casting metal blocks, then typesetting and finally imprinting. Today, we are in the digital era and every letter from **lettering, compilation, font, subtitle, and even advertising is considered ‘typography.’

(**lettering: a letter newly designed. A designer draws a sketch, then scans and digitalizes it into a original letter.)

When professors from other majors order a report, students usually write in a certain form. From Visual Communication Design, however, professors also consider the design of the report, so we have to review the typesetting of the writing. Tiny details matter in typography, because a whole paper can seem poor by a poorly-designed letter. As I advance into a higher grade, I feel the field has loads to study.

Q: Please tell us your artistic style and your working process?

WG: I usually work on the theme given by a class or the Hangeul Font Study Club. It takes me three weeks to map out the concept, and I keep reviewing whether my logic is fine. I imagined myself drawing or doing graphics in college at first, but now I have learned that the work gets much tougher when your design is illogical. However, examining my thought objectively is difficult; therefore, I value feedback from professors and members of the club.

Q: When is the most difficult time for you while working? And, when is your happiest moment while working?

WG: I have a bad habit of postponing things. I keep planning in my head until two weeks before the event, then madly work. The happiest moment is when an exhibition opens. I feel so proud when looking at where the display is done and my work is included. Also, I like hearing the appreciation of my work.

Q: What is your best work?

WG: My best work is the last project I did in Communication Design 2 class last year. The purpose of the project was to sell your design, regardless of the kind. I designed an English font to sell for 6,000 won. It was sold to a little more than 10 people.

I also made a booklet introducing this font after the sale. I tried new styles with the book. The cover was acrylic engraved with letters by laser cutting, connected by hinges. Also, the binding was a ‘French Fold’ style, and page numbers were printed in the middle of the folded paper.

The English font with its fewer number of letters is much easier to design a Hangeul font, so I worked very happily. This is the project I am proudest of because people actually bought and used my design, and lastly the pamphlet was made from it.

* The most impressive piece - Reporter’s Pick.

WG: The Korean embassy in France asked the Hangeul Font Study Club for a work to present in Hangeul in France last year. We decided to do landmark lettering over the map of Korea. Each of us did letterings of two regions. Mine was Seoul and Ganjeolgot Cape. None of us could go to the site, but the Hongik student who linked us to the Korean Cultural Center went to Paris and stuck sheets one-by-one on the exhibition hall.

Q: Have you decided on your career? Do you have any final words you would like to say?

WG: I have not decided on a specific career yet. However, I will try illustration for now. I want to experience lots of stuff during my college years. So, after this semester, I am going to take a year off from school. I will think about my future while traveling around and preparing for a student exchange program.

For younger students, I recommend they participate a lot in club activities, because although the experience is tough, it leaves you with something. You will soon need a portfolio to use in the school studio in your junior year. Also, you need to archive your work after every semester. Put an effort on display and take pictures of it, which will improve your portfolio!

Seoh Jiwon  jwseoh67@gmail.com

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