7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #676: Featuring
Up-and-Coming Illustrator, Dani Choi

h1 February 2nd, 2020 by jules

(Click image to enlarge)


It’s the first Sunday of the month, which means I have the work of a student or otherwise debut illustrator. Today, I welcome Dani Choi. Dani is an illustrator based in New York, who graduated with a BFA in Communication Design from Washington University in St. Louis and is now getting her MFA in Illustration as Visual Essay at the School of Visual Arts. I thank her for sharing art today, and I’m going to turn 7-Imp over to her so that we can learn more about her and her work.

* * *

Dani: I love that one line from Pablo Neruda’s The Book of Questions, “Where is the child I was, still inside me or gone?” Sometimes when I reflect on my past, I realize how different I have become now, compared to the child that I once was. Like most people, I’ve lost the childish innocence that I once had in the process of growing up. The incongruity between my past and present self saddens me at times, and that’s when I pick up my favorite picture book. When I re-read the books that my parents read to me as a child, I travel back in time to when I was a wide-eyed, artless child who enjoyed the simple ways of life.

In other words, for me, picture books are a bridge that connects my present self to my younger self. I hope picture books do the same magic to other people as they do to me, and it’s for that very reason I want to make picture books.




There are so many things in this world that inspire me to work, and it’s merely impossible to list all of them. But often the intrinsic feeling of being a stranger to society inspires me to start a project. I’ve been living in the U.S. as a foreigner since I was a teenager and have had many instances where I felt like an outsider. And this emotion naturally gets translated into the content or subject matter that I’m drawn to. For instance, the book that I worked on, Where is My Baboon Hiding?, features circus characters that are considered “freaks,” such as a woman with many legs, a dog-faced family, a pinhead man, etc. [see pictured above at top of post and the two images below]. I like drawing characters that seem a bit bizarre and inflict curiosity in readers. Perhaps this is why I’m also drawn to otherworldly and mystical fables and myths.

As to children’s book artists that inspire me, I love Edward Lear, Quentin Blake, William Steig, Abner Graboff, etc. I like picture books that have a bit of an edge to them.


(Click image to enlarge)


(Click image to enlarge)


I like to work digitally these days, because it helps me make bold choices with colors. During my undergrad years and all throughout college, I was timid around colors and mainly used black and white with one or two spot colors. After finishing undergrad, I started to draw digitally more often, which gave me the freedom to experiment with colors without fear. Being introduced to so many colors was a huge revelation for me, and I’m learning to embrace endless combinations of colors.



Students and young professionals who are just starting out tend to be preoccupied about finding the consistent style that feels natural to them. I had a very unhealthy obsession over my stylistic choices and still think about them from time to time. But after countless hours ruminating on the subject, I’ve come to the conclusion that the story behind the image is often times more important than the stylistic quality of work. As an illustrator, I think it’s important to remind myself that style merely serves to deliver the message I want to give to viewers.



I have many dream projects in mind. One of them is to illustrate a story of my own that involves a set of characters I create — and then make plush toys out of them. When I was a kid, I had innumerable dolls, and every night I would line them up around my bed before I went to sleep, because I regarded them as my friends/guardians that protected me from the dark. Children are full of wonderful imagination, and it would be quite amazing to see a child befriending one of my characters.




I think the illustration program at SVA creates a safe haven for aspiring illustrators. We learn a lot from each other and stimulate a great creative energy in the studio. I’m happy to be surrounded by so much talent.


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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 * * *

1) Gatherings with friends.

2) Walter Martin’s new album. I’m fond of that cover art too (by Christopher Corr):



3) Season two of Sex Education.

4) Geraldine McCaughrean’s Where the World Ends.

5) The announcement of the 2020 Outstanding International Books list from the United States Board on Books for Young People.

6) Oh, and look! That will be in my neck of the woods.

7) A very thoughtful and mind-read’y kind of gift from a friend.

BONUS: Dani’s colors.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

5 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #676: Featuring
Up-and-Coming Illustrator, Dani Choi”

  1. Hi Dani! Cool patterns and bright colors!

    Hi Imps! How goes February thus far?

    Jules: Tigers are awesome.

    My kicks from the past week:
    1) Music
    2) Movement
    3) Motivation
    4) Memories
    5) Momentos
    6) Moments
    7) Meaning

  2. This week’s Kicks:

    Reading…really reading the new Caldecott; The Undefeated. Beautiful.
    Hugs from a child who just got a library card.
    Coffee and conversation with a friend.
    The sun is out in Ohio!!

  3. Beautiful artwork!!! As always, a pleasure to discover new things on your blog. Thanks

  4. Love these beautiful explosions of colorful – much needed in the grey of winter. really love the spread with everyone sleeping under one blanket and the warrior rushing to battle.

    Jules – gatherings with friends and thoughtful gifts are the best. Haven’t watched Sex Education yet but its in my queue.

    Little Willow – love the alliterate kicks this week – particularly Movement Motivation and meaning.

    Victoria – yay for sunshine and what great kicks!

    My kicks this week:
    1) The sun is out today in Portland! (We’ve had a lot of rain lately.)
    2) Finished Meg Cabot’s Mediator series and it was a very fun read.
    3) Good coffee and spotify playing fun music this morning.
    4) Started watching Picard and absolutely love that Number One is a beautiful bluenose (grey) pit bull like Miss Daisy, and that it was because Patrick Stewart insisted on it because of his experience fostering Ginger the dog.
    5) The finale of The Good Place was so well done and fun. I’m going to miss the fun and goodness of that show now that its over.
    6) The sweet smiling faces of the piggies at this rescue farm that is in need of piggy cuddlers to help socialize the rescue pigs: https://twitter.com/cottonbranch/status/1222323993673334785
    7) Finishing up the Christmas/New Year cards and putting them in the mail tomorrow (I am v. v. late this year, 2019 was super busy all the way to the end for me.)
    7.5) Earlier this week sweet Daisy was a brat and took a package of cheese bread off the table and ate all of it while I was out, and as soon as I walked in the door she looked at me and put herself in timeout in her crate with a pouty guilty look. Can’t stay mad at her for long, and a good reminder to never leave food out if she’s going to be home alone. 🙂

    Have a wonderful week Imps! Happy February!


  5. Little Willow: Someone in some movie somewhere says “mommy’s toes” for “mementos,” and I cannot find, for the life of me, what movie that is. Maybe I imagined it. I like all your “M” kicks.

    Hi, Victoria! The sun came out here today, too. It was warm enough for shorts, which is kind of weird and depressing for February but meant we could take a nice long walk. Love that library-card kick.

    Hi, Kate! Thanks!

    Rachel: Sex Education is really quite progressive and subversive, and I love it so much. This season they are tackling some really good and important topics. … Oh, The Good Place. SNIFF. I miss it already. That last kick is incredible. You must remember I live with a cat, and they are not capable of such self-regulation and remorse! Sweet Daisy.

    have a great week, you all …

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