7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #615: Featuring
Up-and-Coming Illustrator, Susan Haejin Lee

h1 December 2nd, 2018 by jules

Lazy Activism
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It is the first Sunday of the month (in the last month of the year — WHUT), and so that means today I welcome a student or newly-graduated illustrator. I’m happy to have Susan Haejin Lee visiting. She graduated last year and tells me more about her work below and shares more images, so let’s get right to it.

I thank her for sharing. Be sure to visit her site for more art.

Susan: Hey! I’m Susan Haejin Lee, and I am a loud and proud Korean-American illustrator. I graduated from Washington University in St. Louis in the Spring of 2017, where I studied under the esteemed John Hendrix and Douglas B. Dowd. My illustrations tend to center around themes of travel and celebrating internationalism.


Baggage Claim
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While I was in school, I digitally emulated a printmaking process by scanning in “plates” of pen and ink drawings and altering the colors in Photoshop. I love being surprised when the plates overlap digitally to create areas of new colors. I try to use a variety of textures, because I’ve found that this method best allows me to visually emulate a wide variety of colors, even when I’m only using two color “plates.” However, I’ve recently discovered that I enjoy illustrating most when I’m working off of the computer, so lately I’ve been experimenting with going back to my more traditional fine arts training roots. It’ll be interesting to see how that affects my current style.


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An illustration for Mindful Magazine’s article, “Am I Doing This Right?”;
this was featured in their August 2018 issue

(Click to enlarge and see the image in its entirety)


I enjoy myself most when I’m telling stories. I was absolutely enamored with Roald Dahl while growing up, and I even wrote my first research paper in high school on Matilda. Those stories helped me develop how I view the world, and it’s a wonderful feeling to do that for children today. I try to really pay attention to being inclusive of minorities in my illustrations, especially since there tends to be a lack of representation in children’s books. My goal is to make books that help children feel safe in this scary world, just like how Roald Dahl did for me.

Here is some information on some of my favorite pieces:


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Now Boarding [above] is my senior thesis about finding a sense of home in the airport and a place of multicultural intersections. Ever since my first trip to South Korea in 1998, I have been fascinated with airports. Growing up as a child of South Korean immigrants in Atlanta, Georgia, I struggled to find a sense of belonging. The airport was the one place that seemed to encompass my two identities; I felt that I could fully accept my Korean-American status in the diverse environment of the airport — a place where people understand and accept that you are culturally from somewhere else, a place of transition.



(Click each to enlarge)


We Have Now Arrived [above] is an extension of Now Boarding and captures the timeless and symbolic reunions we see every day at airports between friends and families and those who have just arrived. The mural stretches 34 feet across three sides of a conveyor system atop the U.S. customs baggage carousel in Terminal 2. The Airport commissioned my work as part of the renovation of the Federal Inspection System (FIS) area completed earlier this year.


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This is a personal piece, inspired by Amy Tan’s “Mother Tongue,”, which is a written piece about how her mother’s accent and “broken” English affected her writing for the better.

All images reproduced by permission of Susan Haejin Lee.

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

I love seeing Susan’s art, and I imagine good things in her illustrating future.

1) Reading about Little Willow!

2) Ed Harcourt’s new instrumental album, which is especially lovely on a cold winter’s day:



3) The television we’ve watched lately, including Homecoming but, most especially, My Brilliant Friend.

4) Khaled Hosseini’s beautiful new book:



5) A Tiny Desk Concert from a band I’ve loved for a long time.

6) This is hardly a kick, but the kick is that I’m grateful for Trevor Noah’s smart, honest words.

7) A great write-up about a song my girls and I love.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

7 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #615: Featuring
Up-and-Coming Illustrator, Susan Haejin Lee”

  1. Good morning, Imps! Happy December!

    Hello to Susan and her neat textures!

    Jules: Thanks! 🙂 I haven’t read Elena Ferrante’s novels, but I dig the titles. Instrumental album added to my listen later queue; anthem listened to, hair tossed.

    My kicks from the past week:
    1) Good casting
    2) Dedication
    3) Filming
    4) Singing
    5) Writing
    6) Ease
    7) Photographs

  2. Thank you for sharing Susan’s art. I think we’ll see her illutrations in a book.
    Jules, I’m excited for the newe book by Hosseini. And thanks for sharing about Little Willow.
    LW: It was great to read about you thanks to Jules. You are a multitalented person. And your kicks always reflect that sense.
    My Kicks:
    1. Finished The Fruit of the Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras.
    2. Discussing books online with the wife of a former HS teacher (she recommended above book)and 2 high school friends.
    3. Oldest grandgirl.
    4. Seeing a Portland tradition, The Singing Christmas Tree.
    5. Subbing in a library.
    6. Planning book gifts.
    7. Catching up.
    Have a great week.

  3. Little Willow, a well-placed hair toss can make all the difference. As for your kicks, break a leg, AS ALWAYS!

    Jone: SUBBING! I bet it feels good to be back in a library but to also be able to take time off to do all the kick’y things you do. What a good week, filled with good books, music, and granddaughters. I will look up the book you read, as it’s new to me.

  4. Thanks, Jone!

    Jules, look how cute! They turned one of Olivia Millerschin’s songs into a picture book! https://youtu.be/i2OhbuMY1ko <- Listen to the song there. Cactus on a Ledge, music and lyrics by Olivia Millerschin, illustrated by Kathrin Honesta.

  5. Love these dynamic illustrations, and the story behind Now Boarding. Really want to see the mural We Have Now Arrived. I love airports for the excitement and potential of setting off on anew adventure or the happiness of returning home after one.

    Jules – will have to check out the music links later, your Trevor Noah link makes me grateful for him, and others, who are able to articulate what people who work in the criminal justice see daily. Hopefully his platform can reach more people about the injustice that occurs. Its hard to address a problem that many don’t realize exist.

    Little Willow!!!! So very fun to read about you and all of your work, and see the range of it. (I knew you were always busy, but you are really really busy!)

    Jone – hooray for Portland traditions and Christmas concerts! And good books.

    My fly-by ultra late kicks:
    1. Really busy with work. Its good.
    2. There will be a break soonish. Also good.
    3. Catching up with an old friend at a work conference.
    4. The Christmas tree is up.
    5. Christmas shopping almost done – this is kind of surprising that I’m so close to done so soon.
    6. Looking forward to a Christmas concert later this week.
    7. Sweet Daisy waiting for me to come home from work.
    7.5 Being reminded that sometimes its the smallest acts of kindness that can matter the most.

    Have a great week everyone!

  6. Rachel, I hope you get lots of rest and relaxation on your upcoming break. Love your last kick. TRUTH. Enjoy the concert!

  7. Oh, and LW: Thanks for the link. She’s new to me!

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