We at LUMPS were unable to put out our fall issue when we wanted to. It's original launch date was for September, however due to many complications, we were not able to release it UNTIL NOW!
If you are here, it is because you picked up one of our paper issues at the Little Indie Press Fair. We thank you for stopping at our table and hope you really enjoy the content that LUMPS has to offer.
Our feature for this issue is an interview with illustrator Julia Kuo who has had a strong positive influence on many of us here at LUMPS. This issue's focus was back to school and all the anxieties and excitement we all deal with when we are in a school setting, whether it's as students or teachers. It's an honor to have Julia share her work with us and have this interview. Please continue reading to check out her interview below as well as an illustration she generously created just for this season's issue!
LUMPS Zine: Are there any current projects that you're working on that you can promote?
Julia Kuo: I'm working on a book cover and interiors for a book about a Japanese family's life post WWII. After living in an internment camp, the family renounces their American citizenship and sets sail for Japan. Their destination is Hiroshima.
LZ: Weapon (medium) of choice?
JK: Digital! I've been having a lot of fun getting to know Photoshop Timeline recently.
LZ: What keeps you motivated to create?
JK: Drawing things that I'm happy to look at, and earning money to spend on hot cheetos.
LZ: Do you feel you have/ have found a specific place in the illustration industry suitable to you or that strongly represents you?
JK: Yes, but it's still a work in progress. I used to do a lot of greeting cards and stationery, which fit because that kind of drawing is very natural to me. I'm more interested in outdoorsy, nature-related things now, so it's nice that I'm getting more work in that area.
LZ: Is there a relationship between your art and feminism? If so, what is it. If not, why do you think that is?
JK: I'm interested in illustrating certain social issues, including some aspects of feminism. I've done a couple editorial pieces about womens' experiences recently, and they've brought a few unexpected observations to light. Like any topic that has a wide range of contributors, there is a lot of writing on the interwebs about feminism - but not all of it is created equally. I'd like to make sure I can stand behind everything that I have my name on, and hopefully add something positive to the conversation.
LZ: What advice do you have for art students who are just coming back for the semester?
JK: Use that amazing printing center on the 9th floor (DPC) [Columbia College Chicago] for your personal projects!
LZ: Female and Non-binary students have noticed a great disparity in gender representation in the illustration field versus the number of female and non-binary students visible in art school. What is your experience with the balance of male and female or non-binary colleagues in the illustration field?
JK: Unfortunately, I don't have enough of a sample size to answer this question regarding non-binary colleagues. I'm personally more invested in a broader category of minorities in illustration. Earlier this year, I was on a panel for Asian-American women in the creative field and was surprised to find that the other panelist and I had almost opposite experiences - our anecdotes were too specifically reliant on the individual people we'd worked with. But we shared the same basic principles that can be generalized to a non-binary group: Illustrators with different backgrounds improve our cultural material by exposing audiences to fresh perspectives. As illustrators in a heterogeneous society, it's our responsibility to visually represent diversity.
LZ: Does your cultural background influence your art?
JK: Yes, definitely! I think it's in my blood to draw cute animals or inanimate things. I grew up with a lot of Chinese and Japanese influence, so I feel nostalgic watching Miyazaki movies the way that most people feel watching older Disney movies. Asian stories also often include a lot of grey area (rather than good vs. evil) and appreciation of nature, so I'll find those themes appearing in the things I draw.
LZ: Are there any sub-cultures you identify with that have an influence on your art?
JK: All I want to do these days is climb and hike, and more and more of my personal stuff is starting to show that. Does that count as a subculture? Where can I find more mountain climber artists?
LZ: What is something that you would like to see more strongly represented in the illustration field?
JK: Data visualization! I'd love to see more illustrators creating infographics. We have the tools to make them even more visually diverse than in their current representations!
LZ: Who are some artists that have inspired you to create (it can be someone you've followed for a long time or someone you discovered recently)?
JK: I was very influenced by a West Coast Asian American pop culture magazine called Giant Robot during high school and college. They represented a community of low-brow artists that included James Jean, Seonna Hong, and Souther Salazar. The magazine has folded, but their LA gallery is still running. These days I'm more influenced by magical realism and surrealism in writing, especially anything by Haruki Murakami or Gabriel Garcia Marquez.