Interview by Sam Desmond
With a diverse portfolio, artist R. Jin takes inspiration from classical mythology and his own dreams to create new worlds for his audience to soak in.
Your paintings look like what classical music would be on a canvas.
Is that your go-to music while you paint?
No, I tend to go for EDM or 70s rock (like Methyl/Ethyl). There are these down tempo movements and moodier sounds. Works very well for stream of consciousness.
Stream of consciousness, is that genre very influential in you work?
Yes, my paintings are more representations of the feelings of a moment. The truth or the aura of a situation. Not a solid portrayal.
Have you always had this approach to your paintings?
No, I got into oil painting almost two years ago. I love the natural breaks you take with oil because of the drying time and all the layers of turpentine. It allows me to let a brush stroke discover itself on its own.
Two years ago, so you didn’t study classical oil painting?
No, I have a degree in illustration and experience in video game design. That work is very intuitive whereas painting is expressive. The images for illustration are done realistically on Photoshop, building on a solid idea in my mind. It’s a formal thought process with grids as you sketch away.
Does your inspiration for illustration differ greatly from that of your oil paintings?
Yes. But there is some crossover—mythology is great fodder for both. The inspiration helps make for a complete portrait of an in illustration, but I’ve used mythology for oil paintings too. In Daphne’s Plea, I wanted to convey the exact moment when she transforms. Hence all the curving lines.
What else inspires your paintings?
Dreams. I dream in cinematic scope. It’s very vivid and filled with emotion. I feel like my dreams can bring to light complex issues I’ve grappled with intellectually during the day.
Insecurities. Fears. Social anxiety. It’s very therapeutic.
Go through one of your paintings and take me through that emotion.
Lady Mystique is where I shifted from painting naturalistically to more ethereal pieces. It’s meant to convey loneliness with a sense of sensuality—with her coquettish, come-hither stare. Especially in the neckline.
How long does each piece take you?
For a 16×20 or 28×45 piece—anywhere from 6 to 20 hours. I do find that larger canvasses offer more room for expression.
How do you start a piece?
I do automatic drawing. It can be a figure, face, landscape. I may want others to see it, but like surrealists, I want to work with the subconscious.
What is it like showing your work to people?
I love it. I really enjoy hearing what people see in my work. Sometimes what they see worries me.
Do you guide your audience at all?
While creating, yes. Upon viewing, no. I never want to be too literal. I’ll include an Italian landscape/cityscape, but it’ll be done with something simple like blank steps.