loading
drag

The Melbourne artist and model exploring fragmented memories through illustration

ARTWORK BY SU PARK
WORDS BY IZZY WIGHT
IN PARTNERSHIP WITH ADIDAS

“I didn’t have to force myself to speak, nor force anyone to understand what I was saying when I drew – art had that kind of power in the most difficult times of my life.”

We know that Melbourne has a wildly talented community of next-gen creatives (we’ve met a few on FJ before). For its latest project, the adidas Forum Newsroom, adidas wanted to tap into this talent. The brand recently brought together dozens of these local creators and set them a task, asking each to work on a creative project exploring one of five themes – identity, technology, culture, future world or life control.

Each participant was given creative autonomy over their project and a budget to enable their vision to come to life. They could work with whoever they wanted, however they wanted, creating whatever they wanted – some made baseball cards, others zines, others music videos. The project is inspired by the re-release of the iconic ’80s basketball sneaker and marks a new chapter for the brand, one that stays open to what’s next.


Looking for more thought-provoking reads? Try our Life section.


Over the next week, Fashion Journal will play host to the creative outputs of eight of these makers, like artist and model Su Park. Using both digital and traditional illustration, Su explores cultural identity, childhood memories and the importance of a positive outlook. For this project, Su wanted to capture the harmonious and collaborative work of the creators in the adidas Forum Newsroom.  Hers is a digitally drawn work that when printed and folded – like you’d fold A4 paper into a birthday card or zine – depicts four distinct scenes that also flow as one congruous work of art. 

You know that feeling of recalling a faded memory? The surprise of a mental image of a moment you’d almost forgotten? Unlike our more recent memories (like what you had for dinner last night), our faded recollections are much more nebulous, fragmented and harder to grasp. Events can lose their sequence and details become blurry; sometimes they stop making sense altogether.

When I want to reminisce, I’ll flick through my camera roll, call an old friend or stalk an ex-lover on social media. Multidisciplinary artist and model Su Park chooses a much more dignified (and beautiful) approach to recapturing a forgotten moment. She creates stunning panoramic illustrations to, as she puts it, piece her memory “together like a puzzle”.

Su moved to Australia from South Korea at age nine. She began her ‘zine project’ after realising that her memories of her birthplace were slowly fragmenting. Scared of losing those memories for good, she began drawing scenes from her childhood and piecing them together through digital illustration. Her work depicts multiple scenes that each stand alone but when set together, also flow as one – a testament to the nature of memory. She now dedicates her art practice to those who are seeking to better understanding their own identity.

Tell us about yourself. Where did your journey as a creative begin?

I moved to Australia in 2009, when I was nine years old. Moving to a foreign country that I had only visited once, I barely even understood the basics of the English language. I struggled to make friends at school and adapt to the foreign environment. Maybe it’s different now but at the time, most of my classmates were too young to be patient with me to finish a sentence with my broken English.

One day, I made a bookmark for this girl that I really wanted to be friends with. I drew a bunch of bunnies, cats, puppies and flowers onto the paper – decorated with all the cuteness I could think of – and gave it to her as a gift. I remember the smile and the inexplicable happiness on her face when I gave her the bookmark. I think that was the starting point of my creative journey. I didn’t have to force myself to speak, nor force anyone to understand what I was saying when I drew – art had that kind of power in the most difficult times of my life.

Your work is heavily inspired by your Korean heritage and the experiences you had growing up. How has your childhood impacted who you are as an artist today?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been into drawing and art. My mum was, and still is, a big inspiration. From the age of six, I wanted to be either a designer or an artist, and I can confidently say it was my mum’s passion for creative industries that kept me on that path. My mum loved to take me to lots of exhibitions, museums and theatre when we still lived in Korea, and I was even part of Youth Samulnori, a traditional Korean percussion performance group!

My mum taught me to never forget where I came from and to be proud to be Korean. She inspired me to show my appreciation for the creative industries and communities. Both my parents consider education a top priority, especially in regards to our history and traditions. All of these precious memories and experiences in my childhood played a big part in defining my style and identity as an artist.

What was your experience like working on the adidas Forum Newsroom campaign?

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Su (@su.park_)

Honestly, I cannot articulate in words how honourable and inspirational it was to be part of the adidas Forum Newsroom. I’m a fresh uni graduate, so this campaign was my first big project as an artist. I got to meet and work with people that I have looked up to since moving to Naarm in 2018.

The support, love and care the creators showed for each other was infinite, even during the most stressful days and lockdown. I’m so happy for every single creative who took part in this campaign and I’m still starstruck that I was part of it. I’m endlessly thankful to my mentors and adidas for the opportunity and trust they gave me for this project.

This project is really centred around the pillars of diversity, community and inclusivity. What was the inspiration behind this piece?

The main inspiration behind my project was the creatives who were involved in this campaign. We were all invited to be part of the adidas Forum Newsroom and thrived in making unapologetically amateur works for this campaign. My project was inspired by, and dedicated to, all creatives who are part of this amazing and fearless community.

You’ve broken up this work into smaller pages that can be brought together to create one harmonious scene. Are you someone who tends to focus on the details, or are you a big-picture thinker?

I am a big-picture thinker because I always start with a general idea and concept, then I dig into the details and build the smaller pieces as I go. My zine project initially started as a uni assignment to encapsulate fading memories of Korea by putting my memory fragments together like a puzzle.

As soon as I heard there would be dozens of creatives from different fields as part of the adidas Forum Newsroom, I decided to adopt the concept to simultaneously celebrate the diversity and harmony of the Naarm creative community.

You’re also an incredible model! Do the art and modelling worlds ever collide for you?

Yes, absolutely! When I started modelling, I was in a state where I was unsure if being an artist was the right career path for me. I think many people go through this phase of ‘Am I good enough to have this as my career, or is it just my hobby?’

Modelling was a way to refresh my mind and give myself a break from my routine. Since I’ve started making more connections as a model, I’ve been able to cross over into artistic collaborations, too.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Su (@su.park_)

Do you have any creative influences you tend to draw upon?

I love drawing people that are absorbed into nature with a hint of my imagination. It takes me a while to start an art piece, because I need to feel inspired. In the meantime, I’ll stalk my favourite graphic designers’ and illustrators’ Instagram feeds, or stare at my favourite art books.

I love incorporating a fleeting moment that imbues peacefulness and tranquillity, like sunbathing 0r picnics. For digital art, I tend to gravitate towards subversive and minimalistic styles, but I’m always trying out new techniques to keep the process exciting.

What’s next for you?

I’m currently teaching myself how to do 3D rendering! Throughout this lockdown, I’ve been focusing on my mental health and taking a break from work. In the meantime, I’m teaching myself 3D rendering and continuing with my Japanese study. Once the lockdown is over, hopefully, I can initiate more modelling and design projects, and work on more fun campaigns like the adidas Forum Newsroom.

Shop the reimagined Forum shoes here.

Lazy Loading