I first came across Esther Kim's work sometime in 2010 whilst reading my monthly Nylon US magazine (that I am still unashamedly subscribed to..) and since then I've been following her blog obsessively. When I approached her for an interview, I did feel a little out of my depth but soon found that Esther is super approachable and as sweet as her drawings. Currently blogging for Nylon Japan, in the past she has worked with brands such as Anna Sui and Kidrobot, and her work has been featured in numerous magazines including Nylon (US, Japan & Korea!) and Elle Girl Korea. Quirky and memorable, Esther's beautifully drawn illustrations blend fashion, pop art and the bright colours of children's picture books. Inspired by her surroundings, the street style of girls in L.A and Tokyo, and the beautiful French actresses from the 60's, her unique style is consistently a feast for the eyes and as addictive as a catchy Kpop song - one with some substance, obviously.  

When did drawing turn into more than just a hobby? 

I started working professionally as an illustrator around 2007. At that point I had been drawing for 3-4 years. I didn't know how to make drawing my job but I just kept drawing and trying everything and anything. I believed that if I kept at it there would be a tipping point.

The girls you draw are super cute, well-dressed and full of personality - what elements of your own character do you try to express through your work (if any)? 

Awww, thank you so much! Well, I think fashion is such a time capsule. Our clothes tell stories about who we are through the memories we make in them, show how our tastes develop and indicate where we are in history.  

You've worked with numerous fashion magazines and brands, and you're currently blogging for Nylon Japan. What advice would you give to someone who wants to do something similar and pursue a creative career?

I think it is really important to have a website and have a lot of work on it, whether it is something you did for the school paper or a local charity. If you think about it from the position of an editor or someone else who can give you work they have to trust that you will be able to do the work they ask of you. So showcasing lots of work, which also is an indication of your hunger and passion. If I see an art student's website with only a few drawings on it I wonder if this is something they really want to pursue. 

 Also stay positive and be genuine.

What has been the biggest highlight of your career so far? '

The biggest highlight of my career is that I have a career. Ten years ago I would have never thought I would be a working illustrator/artist. I always wanted to live a creative life but never thought it could be a reality so I am so thankful to be allowed to create and draw everyday!

What are your hopes for the future? 

I hope to keep creating and drawing and to somehow give back with all that I have received.  I'm interested in so many things gallery work, making products, books, collaborations, etc. I also want to work with a more diverse array of clients from different countries. I'm interested in all the fashionable girls around the world.

What is the most important thing for an artist to remember?

Being able to create something as an artist is a privilege. Be excited, be open to new things, be humble, create/draw/paint everyday if you can!

I adore your illustrated daily outfit diary. What are three items of clothing you couldn't live without? 

Black tights, haha, black boots and my military jacket. The basic building blocks to many of my outfits~!

As a Korean-American whose lived in both Los Angeles and Tokyo, what are your favourite hangout spots? 

In L.A. I love Koreatown, Los Feliz, Silverlake, and DTLA. The pace is slower than most big cities and actually everything is really spread out but I've come to appreciate L.A. for its warm weather, palm trees, taco trucks, and close proximity to the beach or a hiking path. In Tokyo I love Shibuya, Harajuku, and Dainkanyama. I love going to Laforet and seeing all the cute fashion kids and walking down Cat Street to and from Harajuku and Shibuya. I always make time to go check out Beams, Tokyu Hands, Parco and Tower Records. There is so much to do and see in Tokyo. I just love it!

Like myself, you're a fan of the K-pop band Big Bang so… who's your favourite member? 

Gah, I love G-dragon. I like that he takes risks and is always pushing things forward. Plus he has a cute smile... such a teenager!! gah.

Disney has opened a new theme park, the star attraction being a ride in homage to you and your work. What would the ride be called and what thrilling things would happen during the experience? 

Wow, this is such an awesome question. I think it would be a Lost in Translation air balloon ride. You would be able to travel all around Tokyo and get off wherever you wanted and it would be made so that only a few people could go each day. I don't know if that is thrilling... I'm thinking something dreamy and relaxing.

And finally, words to live by? 

"If you go as far as you can see, you will then see enough to go even farther" 
- John Wooden.

You can't know everything or plan for everything. Just keep going forward, one step at a time.

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