Suzy Lee, a Picture Book Author who is popular abroad
Originality that Transcends Imagination and Reality
The most noteworthy area in the Korean booth at overseas book fairs is picture books. The international language of pictures, which have no language barriers, captures the attention of overseas publishers. The Korean picture book market has grown explosively since the 1990s; thus, competent illustrators becomes picture book authors.
Hee-Na Baek, author of the domestic bestseller Cloud Bread, is a popular artist in overseas markets. Her unique style of taking photos of three-dimensional objects for backgrounds or physical dolls for characters in picture books stimulates the imaginations of her readers. The copyrights of her latest works, such as The Bath Fairy (2012) and The Mysterious Mother (2016), were exported to China and Japan and received positive reactions. Oversea publishers are waiting for next works of some authors such as; Hee-ri Lee's The Day When It Was Raining, Jae-su Ryu's The Yellow Umbrella, Dong-sung Kim's Picking Up Mom, Eun-Young Cho's Run Toto, and Dong-soo Kim's The Day I Caught a Cold.
Additionally Suzy Lee is the "hottest" artist among Korean picture book authors on the international stage. She was the first Korean author to be nominated for the Hans Christian Andersen Award last year, which is referred to as the “Nobel Prize” for children's literature. Suzy Lee graduated from Seoul National University's American Painting Department and became a picture book author while she was studying book arts at Camberwell College of Arts, London, United Kingdom. Her graduation work, Alice in Wonderland, was first published in Italy in 2002 (the Korean version was published in 2015), and the copyrights of 18 of her books have been sold to more than 20 countries worldwide.
Her major work, Wave, was published abroad first. It was first published in 2008 by Chronicle Publishers in the US and in Italy, Spain, France, Germany, Brazil, Japan, and finally Korea in 2009. If the copyright contract for Turkey from this year is counted, publishers from 13 countries are releasing Wave. Her next work, Lines, will be released simultaneously in Korea, the US, Italy, and Spain this summer.
∆ Author Suzy Lee
∆ Wave by Suzy Lee
Suzy Lee's picture book has a wide range of unique ideas that go beyond the imagination and the real world by using charcoal, watercolor, and colored pencils freely. The Black Bird was made from lithographs carved out of stone, and Wave evokes the feeling of a sandy beach with acrylic paint mixed with water on coated paper. In addition, she creates various forms of book prints as an author who majored in book arts. Recently, her sense of maternal affection by raising her children, adds appeal to her work as well.
The story in Suzy Lee’s works is not told through writing, but pictures. The important storyline is told by pictures in not only wordless books, such as Wave or Mirror, but also picture books with writing, such as The Zoo. The fun part of The Zoo is the incongruity of the words and pictures. The astounded parents who have lost their child, the main character, run around in the zoo in the picture, but the text only tells the adventurous story from the child's perspective. The more you look at the pictures, the more new stories you will discover.
She also uses the font as images rather than for messages. In the book Shadow, the reaction of the playing shadows is shown, which are suddenly surprised to see the sudden appearance of the words "Let’s have dinner." The reaction of the shadows is exaggerated as they see a monster. The author said, "Successful picture books should leave an appropriate space to be filled by the imagination of readers." As if trying to use words as sparingly as possible for this “space,” Suzy Lee’s works are cautious in giving detailed explanations. It is entirely the reader's responsibility to gather the clues by drawing from the pictures to connect the story points. Anyone can easily sympathize without language barriers through picture books. It is expected that Korea's outstanding picture book authors will lead the global publishing industry in the future.
Written by Ji-young Lee, Vice Senior Manager of the Culture Department, JoongAng Daily