INTERVIEWED BY Michaela Stehr
Originally from Seoul, Chicago-based art director and designer Tracy J Lee loves to draw and animate in her spare time. We chatted to her to find out more about her work, processes and what’s next.
What inspires your work?
My work is inherently inspired by my own feelings and thoughts. I’m an introvert by nature, so art makes it easier for me to express all the bottled-up emotions in my mind. I’m also driven by the things that I experience around me, whether they are films, books or songs that have greatly touched me in some ways.
What mediums do you use?
I mainly use Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and After Effects to create my digital illustrations and animations.
What process do you follow when creating your pieces?
I start by simply jotting down new ideas and then taking some time to make rough sketches. When I’m in a good place with my composition, I bring in the sketch to either Illustrator or Photoshop to start drawing in shapes and colours. People often ask how I choose my colour palette, but I don’t have a specific process that I follow, except that I simply envision the mood I’m trying to portray (is it dark? Light? Mysterious?) and choose the colours as I go by instinct. I can always adjust colour and lighting through photo filters and blending layers at the end, so I have less pressure to make everything look perfect on the first try. For animation, once I have a basic storyboard drawn out, I work straight on Photoshop to draw each frame on a separate layer. The process can be arduous and full of unexpected turns, but that’s also what makes it exciting.
Are there any illustrators on your radar at the moment?
Thanks to social media, I’m inspired by artists from all around the world. At the moment, I’m a huge admirer of Malika Favre’s illustrations and her ability to create powerful mood and compositions through bold colours and shapes. I also love Joey Chou’s work and his use of geometric shapes, bright colours and brush-like textures. Looking at his work fills me with warmth and happiness!
What feeling are you trying to evoke through your pieces?
Sometimes, my art expresses happiness and joy. Other times it evokes melancholy and loneliness. But what I find consistent in my work is that there is a sense of wonder and questions left hanging that allow people to make their own interpretations. I’m very drawn to philosophical thoughts and concepts that make us question our lives, which are often represented through the characters in my animations. What I love about creating these never-ending loops of fleeting stories is that it is like a reflection of who we are as humans – always searching for meaning even though at times we might feel trapped in a routine or a path that we want to escape from.
Any exciting plans for the future?
I want to keep developing my animation skills because I love the feeling of doing something different and challenging in my life. My goal is to write and animate a short film someday!