Who are the Susu girls? A question that I've been asking myself ever since I stumbled across the work of JSK. Well, today's interview will shed some light...
Sometime ago, I came across a group of fashionable characters named the Susu Girls. These girls are always on trend and living in a luxurious lifestyle. In order for me to know more about them, I have interviewed JSK, the mastermind behind these girls and today, I am happy to share this with all the Swide readers.
FW13 Dolce&Gabbana Susu girls
Hi JSK, it’s great to have you on Swide this week. Let’s start the interview with this question. What made you get into the fashion illustration industry? If you were not a fashion illustrator what job do you think you would be doing now?
I started my fashion illustrations along with the launch of my bag brand Susu. I didn't have a big budget for this project, so I figured the best way to promote and give an identity to Susu was to illustrate a series of ideal girls who would carry the Susu bags. Since then I got various collaboration calls from companies like Bloomingdale's and Style.com Korea which really helped me embark on my fashion illustration career!
I never formally studied fashion illustration, but art and design was something I loved doing since I was a kid. I'm currently working as an art director for a fashion advertising agency, so I guess I would still be doing something related to fashion after all!
Susu girls in Marc Jacobs
Since you have never formally studied fashion illustrations, who are two of your favourite illustrators? Have their styles influenced you at all?
I don't particularly have favorite illustrators - there are just so many talented illustrators with different styles out there that I absolutely adore! I do though, have two of my personal favorite fashion photographers that I reference a lot when I illustrate my Susu girls. They are Mert & Marcus and Tim Walker.
I love the whimsical and fantasy story telling of Tim Walkers photographs and the provocative and the compositional aspect of Mert & Marcus's photographs. The Susu girl is sexy, chic and confident but she is also quirky at times(whether it is through quirky fashion or the setting). As Susu girls don't have facial features, I reference a lot of their photographs for various poses and composition to potray a certain feeling and a story.
Speaking of the Susu girls, why did you decide not to include facial features on them?
I decided not to draw any facial features other than the lips because I think it looks more chic and stylish without the eyes and the nose! It also helps me to focus on the body and the clothes which I think is important for my style of illustration, as it helps to evoke a certain story.
Now let me ask you a trivia question about the girls. If Susu Girls existed in real life, what kind of career do you think they would have in order to support their luxurious lifestyles?
That is a hard question! I guess she would be working in the fashion industry like myself!
Susu girls in New York
I know you are based in Sydney and Seoul right now. Do you find that the illustration culture is different in Sydney than in Seoul?
I don't think the illustration culture is different. In fact I've never had an Australian client yet, so I actually don't know the answer to that! Also, most of my clients contact me through my personal website or Susu blog, so 90% of communication is through emailing, so in that way it seems to be very similar no matter where the client is based.
Now, I do want to go back to your illustration style. Some of your work combines of illustration and photo images, how do you determine when to use photo images in a piece?
90% of my illustration is a combination of photo and vector images. I hand draw the girls and turn the image into a vector, and then add the real textures of the clothes on to the vector images. I think it helps to express the clothes better.
I mainly used photographs as a backdrop to illustrate the Susu bags, as it has often been difficult to illustrate the minor details of the bag - so I guess if there are details that are hard to illustrate, then I would mainly use photographs instead.
I like your Susu bags and I hope people will be carrying them during fashion weeks soon! So out of all the projects you have done so far, which one is the most memorable? Why?
I'd have to say Bloomingdales Holiday project is my most memorable project to this date as it was my first big illustration project I was asked to do! I was asked to draw series of christmas illustrations based on the landmarks of NY, and at the time I had never been to NY. I had to watch and rely on a lot of movies that were based in New York for visual inspiration. I then went to NY a year after i finished the project for a campaign shooting and it was very refreshing and interesting to see the buildings and the store in real life!
Last but not least, I have one more question for your Susu Girls. Each of them has a perfect model figure and I am just wondering, do you know their diet secrets?
Eat healthy and exercise at least an hour per day!
Susu girls in New York