Feeling lost is a weird feeling, and that’s exactly the feeling that comes to mind when looking at JaeHoon Choi’s work. The illustrations by the Seoul-based artist, animator and director are dense, filled with almost violently expressive line art. Yet, as you go through his portfolio, you’re also often surrounded by negative space. This world of contrasts is also reflected in JaeHoon’s drawings. In a project, pebbles, small floating shapes and twisted signs will litter the sparse images. Yet in the next, giant watery eyes, congested features, and cavernous black holes fill the page. When the tone takes a dark turn, you still feel lost and quite like you’ve stumbled on a wrong turn.
In 365 Nervesa recent book by JaeHoon published by To printwith design in support of Sparks Edition, the artist says he is looking into his “deepest depressive self”. Functioning as a “record of the last years”, the book was created on 365 days of JaeHoon’s life. The mood shifts from foreboding to eerily peaceful, but what really comes to life is JaeHoon’s ability to create almost cinematic adventure scenes. In his comics, there is a recurring theme of people traveling through uncertain, dreamlike terrain; the characters often meet at a crossroads in a stretch of desert land or in dark inky forests. “When I was young, I lived in the countryside for a long time, and I think the emotion of getting to know nature has a profound influence on my current work,” says JaeHoon. “I think it’s good as an artist to be as honest as possible,” JaeHoon told It’s Nice That, “365 Nerves is the most honest job for me.
While much of JaeHoon’s work is taken up with dark and personal themes, his style translates perfectly into the commercial world. The comic book artist recently worked on a global campaign in collaboration with Montblanc, for their SkyWalker pen collection. With animation produced and directed by JaeHoon, SkyWalker is based on interviews with a real astronaut, Leroy Chiao, who lived on a space station. “It’s a work that contrasts the loneliness of the universe with the significance of the Earth,” says JaeHoon. Somehow, the illustrator not only manages to carry the isolated feeling of his personal works like 365 in brand work, but enriches them for it. His next work will build on this approach as a graphic novel made in collaboration with a science fiction writer.
In the meantime, JaeHoon’s artistic practice and interest in comics continues (“I have about 5,000 comics at home,” he says). If animating the words of an astronaut in real life is a project that seems hard to beat, we can’t wait to lay eyes on his next work, whether it’s starry night skies or an unsettling abyss.