How Soo Kim Uses Heat and Ink to Create Flowing Artworks

Paige Simianer | September 22, 2022

Soo Kim in her studio. Photo courtesy of the artist

Contemporary artist Soo Kim uses alcohol ink and heat to create mesmerizing compositions.

By layering colors and adding touches of gold, strokes, and fine lines, Soo creates a narrative of "being in the moment" with alcohol ink and a heat gun.

"It requires total concentration to be fully into the moment and to force myself to let everything else go," Soo explains. 

"Lately I’ve been trying to recapture that sense of play. I still carry that vision of feeling free in nature and take walks every morning. My work is fueled by my emotional ties to those happy moments."

Artwork Archive got the chance to chat with Soo Kim about her creative process, choice of medium, and her journey to becoming a full-time artist. You can see more of her work on Discovery and learn more about her work below. 

Soo Kim 'Let It Be', 24 x 36 x 1.5 in, 2022


Has your work changed over time—do you find yourself understanding your art career through different periods of expression?

My work does change through seasons as I tend to lean into different colors. 

My newest collection comes to release energy filling up on loneliness and desires in life, inspired by natural elements like gracefully wilting flowers.

I also experiment with different mediums and fell in love with 'the world's darkest black' paint. I have been incorporating it into my work! I've discovered the contrast of black with my vibrant colors works so well together.

As a mother of two children, my time is sometimes stretched so thin that I crave moments of silence and peace within. I release my thoughts creating flows of beautiful colors with alcohol inks. My professional background as a designer helps me create the best compositions in my work.


Do you have a favorite or most satisfying part of your process?

Yes! As I cannot undo it once I pour the ink, I feel most satisfied when my work flows and colors mix beautifully through the canvas. It's like a breath of fresh air.

I love watching the inks mix together, creating the most vibrant colors as they dry. I also love to experiment with various mediums and it's most exciting when I find the right combination of mixes that blend and work beautifully with my composition.


How did you come to discover your love of alcohol ink and a heat gun as your main medium/material? 

I actually stumbled upon alcohol ink art on Pinterest when I was exploring new mediums. I immediately fell in love with it and discovered my own way of manipulating the alcohol ink using blow tools.

It took a while to get used to controlling the inks with a heat gun as they are quick to escape within your sight. However, it gives me so much joy when I create the perfect pour across the canvas! 

Soo Kim, 'Reborn', 20 x 24 x 1.5 in, 2022

What has your artistic education consisted of (formal or not)? If you did receive a formal education like a MFA, did you find it necessary for your artistic growth, or did you find that elsewhere?

I have a BFA in Communication Design and, when I was young, I attended Sunhwa Art School​ in South Korea. That is where I learned all my fundamentals in art. 

Years later, I worked my way up in the fashion industry to becoming an Art Director for Revlon

Having this background as an Art Director definitely helped my current creative practice.

I value the power of marketing and know how important it is to brand yourself as an artist. I've also gained skills in Photoshop and use it to sketch ideas and create mock-ups and mood boards. 


What was it like transitioning from a creative career in the fashion industry "back to your roots" as a full-time artist? Can you explain more about your decision/process to do so?

While I was creating campaigns for fragrances as an Art Director, I kept coming back to the idea of being an artist. I’ve always dreamed of being an artist and realized it was now or never to pursue my dream. 

Now, I teach art at my home studio. I currently host classes for both children and adults and it's been such an inspiration. We explore different mediums and I challenge my students to expand their creative thinking skills through art. 

Soo Kim, 'Red Canyon', 24 x 36 x 1.5 in, 2022


Why did you decide to use Artwork Archive to inventory/manage your artwork?

After doing much research, I realized Artwork Archive was the best way to send clients lists of my current work in the most organized way. It’s also user-friendly! 

Additionally, it's a great project management tool to organize my shows and keep a record of all the details and preparations that go into them. 


How do you use Artwork Archive on a daily basis?

I use it on my mobile to reference pricing and details and to update my collections. It also gives me a birdseye view to see what I’ve created so far, organize them into the collections I have created, and see what has sold.

Soo Kim, 'Sweet Dreams', 30 x 48 x 1.5 in, 2022


What advice would you give an emerging artist during this time?

I believe I am still an emerging artist myself as I have so much more to learn!

"Start by starting," my former manager used to tell me all the time.

You don’t have to be perfect—just start and, with a positive mindset, everything will fall into  place.

I also follow Mel Robbins on Instagram where she gives the best pep talks whenever I begin feeling hopeless! 

Soo Kim uses Artwork Archive to track her artwork, locations, and stay connected with her clients. 

You can make an online portfolio, catalog your artwork, and generate reports like inventory reports, tear sheets, and invoices in seconds with Artwork Archive. Take a look at Artwork Archive's free trial and start growing your art business. 

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