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In SCBWI-L.A.’s first #KTIllustrates contest, illustrators were given a few lines from an old nursery rhyme to inspire them: “If your heels are nimble and light, you may get there by candle-light.” The entries could be in any form (spot, spread or cover design) and in any medium. The winner receives a gift certificate to ArtSupply Warehouse and is featured on the Los Angeles Region’s social media pages.

Congratulations goes to Sienna Youngsun Kim, our winner of the #KTIllustrates 2021 contest! Read on to learn more about Sienna and to view her wonderful work, filled with whimsy and delight.

Sienna Kim’s Winning Illustration

Sienna is a children’s book illustrator, greeting card designer, and former animation instructor. She studied Visual Communication Design at Seoul National University and completed her degree in Experimental Animation at CalArts. She loves whales and wildflowers, and makes her own ice cream when she’s not busy illustrating.

Jessica Chrysler: Tell us a little bit about your work. What inspires you? What mediums do you like to use?

Sienna Youngsun Kim: Everything surrounding me inspires me: my family, friends, pets, nature, and my childhood memories. My personal experience combined with my imagination motivates me to make art. I usually start my work with pencil sketches, lots of them, and finish it digitally, using Procreate and Photoshop. I also love to experiment with traditional mediums like watercolor and gouache. 

JC: You have a wide range of projects in your portfolio — everything from greeting card designs to fashion illustration. What got you into illustrating for kids?

SYK: I love working as a freelance illustrator and have been fortunate to work in several different markets. However, becoming a picture book artist has been my dream career since childhood. I was one bossy girl who gathered neighborhood friends and my sisters and commanded them to draw picture books with me. 

JC: It’s been a challenge for most artists to stay creative and/or motivated during the pandemic. What have you done to stay creative? What keeps you going?

SYK: Some days, I would draw even more to cope with my anxiety. On the other days, I take a break from making art and do something else to freshen up myself. I like to do yoga, walking in the neighborhood, and biking on the trail to maintain my mental and physical health.  

JC: Do you share your work in progress with others? Either in critique groups or on social media? 

SYK: Yes, I do! I share my work in progress and news on my social media regularly. I love to be connected with other artists and support each other. It is a lovely community. Otherwise, this industry could lead us to a very lonely career path! I joined SCBWI about a year ago and also look forward to making more friends from the gatherings.

JC: And one more question, just for fun: if you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?

SYK: I have to choose Korea because I haven’t seen my family in Korea for too long. If I could choose one more, I would love to visit Corfu island in Greece. I am watching this TV show The Durrells in Corfu, and it looks so charming.

Thank you Sienna for sharing your work and inspiration with us! To learn more about Sienna and her work, you can visit her website PolkaDotWhaleStudio.com or follow her on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter

If you want to learn more about the #KTIllustrates contest and when the next submission window is open, check out the contest info page here.

For more fantastic content, community, events, and other professional development opportunities, become a member today! Not sure if there is a chapter in your area? Check here.

Images provided by Sienna Youngsun Kim.