SEVEN AT ONE STROKE – that’s seven questions a day for comic artists and illustrators. This time: Amé Binnarä Kim.
Born in the bitterly cold winter month of 1986, in the land of morning glory. Grew up in South Korea, went through puberty in London and Glasgow, finally entering into maturation in Berlin.
Why did you start drawing?
It all started on one sunny day of the early `90s. I was loitering around in a small park area near home after school, testing the newly obtained knowledge – the power of the gigantic ball of ever lasting warmth which the 9 year old me could not imagine would become a growing threat, a.k.a. „We are all going to burn or boil to death“, much later on – using a magnifying glass we had to bring for a science class that day. It was unfortunate that a row of ants were marching nearby, as I quickly got bored of burning tiny holes on the copy paper and leaves I found on the ground. The cruelty went on, creating some casualties, the magnifying glass I was holding suddenly flipped, the heavily concentrated, greatly magnified sunlight landed on my arm, burning my skin. It moved on its own as I was being burnt alive, like those poor ants, but with much less impact being made. When it stopped I looked at my arm and it read, „Do something creative and less cruel, you little shite“. So I held a crayon instead of a magnifying glass and started making marks on paper instead of the little corner of ground where the ants had their home. I admit that I do not remember when I started and what made me start drawing. I never imagined I would be doing what I do now as a kid, I just remember that I was obsessed with wax crayons by Crayola – not sponsored but wouldn‘t mind – and the 120 colour set my parents got me on our trip in Australia was my most cherished possession when I was wee. I probably drew a lot, but before that, I would spend most of my days burying my face in books and escaping from the world. So I really have no idea when and how! So I would just leave that story – which is 90% true actually! – as an answer. I am proud to add that I am not an ant torturer/killer any longer since that day.
How would you describe your style?
Aesthetically, my works have been going through different styles and mediums, but, the core remains the same: it is all about telling a story, making mundane everyday stuff somehow interesting to look at, finding beauty or fun out of even the most miserable situations and being playful… just like cats. Recently I held a small exhibition of my works at Zwitschermaschine with the artist group VOLKSTATA whom I have been working with the last half of year, and one of the feedbacks I received could explain the style in a more elaborate way: Sweet and lovely, but also spicy with often rather bitey humour.
Which topics are particularly close to your heart?
Cats! The name of my self publishing label, KATZEKOTZE, is pretty self explanatory, though the name wasn‘t created to fit the most favoured subject in my works… (I had created the name back in 2015 and kept for my „future band“ name) My absolute comfort zone is to draw cats and impressions of my days or something curious that I observed in life. In the last few years, the desire to make comics/illustrated stories regarding matters on politics and social issues has been growing, and my aim is to bring awareness on difficult topics to create conversations, sharing thoughts and information in a form of – if I may – education.
How do you find inspiration?
Oaks standing tall and gentle, glitters thrown by the late morning sun on the water that tell you stories, sleepy acorns and conkers in thick blankets of dry leaves, the curious eyes of susans and laughing daisies, cats‘ whiskers that tickle the squirrels, coy foxes in misty evenings. And all kinds of small and big happenings in life. For example, in my new zine „Cats, Cake and Tea Pandemic Edition“, I made a two page comic about a ‚böse Hummus‘ (EN: evil hummus) which really happened one evening at a supermarket. The man obviously wanted to just talk to someone, and he picked on my choice of groceries items. I found the whole thing hilarious – his bold statement that hummus is „evil“ and the way he delivered it to me… It, to me at least, showed a glimpse of Berlin humour and culture, and gave me a wee chuckle. I remember myself thinking, stepping out the store, ‚Man, this is good comic material‘. When I had cat(s), I found their never ending daily shenanigans pretty amusing and drew about them, which I still do. With the newest character St. Batty, I tend to channel myself in the character.
What can comics, cartoons and illustrations accomplish that other media can‘t?
I view those somewhere in between literature and video works that are narrative such as films, series and sketches, all dealing with narratives and yet how we perceive and process them is vastly different. Comics, cartoons and illustrations have similarities to literature where one can imagine the story in its full motion – we see characters and scenes drawn and illustrated in stills, and in our heads they become alive, telling their stories to us, rather similar to the experience of reading a book. This allows more freedom, in my opinion, than the films and series, for example. I would also like to say that this could be how some of us get emotional when our favourite books or comics/graphic novels are reworked as a film or series. It can be either exciting or rather disappointing to see how the story is depicted by someone else – which I think is an important thing to remember, that the latter are a imagination of someone else really, making it a separate artwork, an homage.
Your most beautiful/worst experience as a comic artist/illustrator?
I would like to create conversations and communicate with others through what I create – be it comics, illustrations, or even watercolour paints that I design. So, it makes my heart warm and full of love when someone enjoys my stories, gets the humour and intentions. It is the shared joy, happiness, sorrow and struggles. I can‘t think of any worst experiences… I guess it is when I feel I can‘t create anything due to burnouts or mental exhaustion – oh, and when a client doesn‘t know what they want thus keep changing the direction of the (commission)work along the way, making the process rather lengthy and frustrating for both parties.
Can you complete the sentence: „It matters to me that…“ for us?
It matters to me that we try to be patient, understanding and kind to each other.
I would like to advertise this project of mine: