Artist Min SungSig shows i-D inside his Seoul apartment
The tattoo artist, musician, illustrator and CIFIKA collaborator is working on a children’s book and preparing for Tokyo Art Book Fair.
Compared to other megacities, Seoul is small in size but big in energy. Its incredibly bubbling art and creative scene are thanks to the young artists, producers, and musicians creating work, while avoiding the obstacles of high rent fees and scarce job options, to do what they love.
Min SungSig is a tattoo artist, musician, and illustrator living in Seoul in a small apartment with a low rent that allows him to work on his practice. This is a common scenario if you are a creative person reluctant to quit your practice to work on something more “established” in the capital.
At a first glance, working from SungSig’s reduced space in Yongsan might seem impossible, but is the epicentre of all the creative projects that the artist is involved with right now: producing music albums with the likes of Mukyo and CIFIKA, illustrating a children’s book for an independent press label, preparing a collaboration for Tokyo Art Book Fair and of course, tattooing his friends.
Surrounded by his musical instruments, souvenirs, drawings, and impromptu art, the Seoul native talks about how he got used to working from his bedroom in high school, creating a safe space for his friends, and what does he have to do to get by as an artist living in Seoul right now.
Hi SungSig, how are you today?
I’m alright cheers, and you?
I’m OK! Is there something worrying you right now?
Roaches… they come out frequently in my room.
Sorry to hear that…How long have you been living in this place?
About eight months. I basically live here because is affordable.
How often do you feel you need to change your room?
I think a room needs to be changed every month or so, but it doesn't go that way for me. I actually change it only when I really feel like it.
What kind of music do you like to listen to in your room while you are working?
Mostly my music, or my friend’s demos.
Is there something secret in your room you don't want anyone to see?
Yeah, there is, and I can’t tell you, because it's a secret.
Do you remember how was your room in high school?
Yeah, I loved how I was surrounded by bookshelves in it. My bedroom back then was pretty similar to what I have now: a space where friends can come and chill. I started playing the guitar inside my room then, and it is something I still do now.
What else did you like to do inside your bedroom that you keep doing
Back then I started tracing comic books, and then I began drawing my own stuff. I tried tattooing the drawings on my body, and eventually, I did my friends and family too. I never knew that tattooing could become my job, but now it is.
What’s a typical day in your room now? Would like to work someplace else?
I usually wake up in the afternoon. I check my emails, messages, calendars, etc. And I always try my best to get things done before a deadline. I think for now I would like to keep working like this.
What projects are you working on right now?
I have some projects at the moment that I’m very excited about. I’m about to release albums with THSS, Mokyo and my own; I have an illustration book for children coming out with Rasun Press, and I’ll be participating in Tokyo Art Book Fair 2021 as a part of the art collective 1234578. At the fair, we are gonna sell zines, posters, t-shirts, and more, as part of a collaboration between the graphic design Studio 12345 and my project dpgp78.
You have been working a lot. Why are these projects important to you
The process of making it happen is important to me. I start from scratch and I put a lot of effort to execute my idea and, eventually, the idea becomes real by working with artists that I like.
Who are you collaborating with more lately?
Mokyo, CIFIKA, DeVita, Jihwan Kim…
How was working on your art and music in your room during the lockdown?
I like being at home anyway, so the lockdown wasn’t amusing but helped me be more productive for sure.
From your experience, what's the hardest part of being a creative person in Seoul right now?
Sustaining what me and my friends do. The artists I know worry about making enough money to get by –they are concerned about being full-time artists because of the financial hardships that imply.
Do you ever think about leaving Seoul? Where would you go?
I haven’t really thought about leaving Seoul. What I want is to keep Seoul as my base city, and travel back and forth –that sounds really good to me.
What excites you more about the future?
I started experimenting with my friend’s vocals last year, and It's a challenge and a new world to me. Producing vocals it’s so different from my usual routine, and I’m loving it so far. Can’t wait to hear the final outcome, really.