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10 Questions with Lisa Jungmin Lee

10 Questions with Lisa Jungmin Lee

One thing about our Omoi colleagues: they're almost certainly working on a side project. There are ceramicists, writers, artists, and activists among us...something about containing multitudes comes to mind. If you've stopped by the store lately (or browsed our Greeting Card collection online), you might have noticed a colorful addition to our front desk: a postcard designed by our staffer Lisa Jungmin Lee, in collaboration with TRAVELER'S COMPANY USA. This limited edition postcard is unique to our shop, and joins the ranks of artist postcards that can only be found in TRC's Partner Shops. 

Lisa is an artist and art educator teaching printmaking, drawing, and painting at various institutes around the city. Her style focuses on architecture, interesting structures, and unique spaces. While designing the postcard, she captured the classical structure of our old brick row house, a part of our Old City neighborhood.

We caught up with Lisa during a busy day at the store, to talk art, analogue habits, and all things Philly. 


M: Hii paging Lisa...

L: Hiii Monk!!

Hi, I heard the TRAVELER’S Company postcard you did for our shop came in today! I’m excited to see it, it sounds like it came out really good.

Yes! it came out really good and has a great paper quality ;)

Omg yaay I was sure it was going to have a really nice treatment, coming from Traveler’s. And ok, so I’d like to interview you for our journal about that, and the process, and also for you to talk about your art and work as an art educator. And like, random things.

Oh yess!! Sure!

So Lisa, we’re talking about a recent collaboration work you did as an artist for TRAVELER’S Company. You made a postcard representing our shop and the city of Philadelphia, as a destination. You're a part time floor staffer here at Omoi but you're also an artist and art educator. 

Can you talk about when you started working here, like what kinds of overlaps did your art life and coming here have? For instance, for me I am obsessed with ballpoint pens and notebooks and I’m a sci-fi fantasy writer outside of work, and I liked working at Omoi because of the then very hard to come by stationery. 

I've been coming to Omoi ever since I moved to Philly (used to go to the Pine St. store a lot!!). As an artist, I love looking through the different kinds of papers/notebooks, pencils, and pens that Omoi carries. But most of all, I am always fascinated by the aesthetics of Omoi whenever I come in to work - organized, neat, great mixture of colors and patterns for each season. I mostly do printmaking and by working here, it has been inspiring me a lot to use more bold color palette and to think patterns in more interesting way. Baggu and Fog Linen Work products are also one of my favorites too - they are like living art objects that give such a joy in my life.

Woo yeah, when I come in I take a lot of time to notice and appreciate the arrangements that Jessi (our head of displays and merchandising) has put together, and how everyone pitches in to maintaining them with attention to detail. Also like you said, the aesthetics of everything interplay with each other.

I'm really interested in various kinds of papers and fabrics/textures, so many products we carry in our shop hugely inspire me! Like every object we have here is a piece of art. 

Haha yes, it’s (for my astro ppl) a Virgo rising's type of place to walk into.  Everything is well arranged and pleasing to look at. I often say ‘goodnight store’ when we leave.

So, ok, since you said you moved to Philadelphia. What kind of environment did you come up in, and what kind of environment do you like to make for yourself today?

I mostly grew up in urban environment in Seoul, South Korea so I was quite ready for this city life in Philly before I moved here. I like to create a good balanced life through enjoying the rich culture and art scene here in Philly and also building up my own community and contributing to the city through my art, teaching, and helping customers at Omoi!

That’s cool to hear. You know, many born and raised Philadelphians, who don’t get out of the city much may not realize that Philly is as rich as you say. And yes, I’ve seen a lot of people move here over the years and quickly find meaningful community across arts, music, grassroots gardening, Afrofuturism, and so on.

Tangentially, our 2nd question is: What kind of stuff were you into when you were like, thirteen? Any advice for thirteen-year-olds today? Maybe this relates to the art and teaching that you have been doing in Philly!

When i was thirteen, I was obsessed with drawing figures, blythe dolls, and k-pop boy band bigbang. I just loved art and music so much at that age... and I collected lots of CDs. Definitely CD Player generation! My advice for thirteen-year olds today is to follow what you are truly passionate about and deeply dive into those [passions] because they are gonna turn into SOMETHING in the future! and also build own unique taste in art and music - they will save your souls from this tough world. At that age, its so easy to be sad and depressing.... I can say art and music are the best therapy!!! Be a best friend with them. 

Trulyyy! What got you into printmaking? On your website it says you have an MFA in printmaking from Tyler School of Art & Architecture at Temple University and a BFA in printmaking from Hongik University in Seoul, South Korea. You’ve been an Adjunct Professor of Printmaking at Cairn University, and have been a teaching artist or instructor at many independent Philadelphia area art centers and larger institutions like Moore College of Art & Design. And you’ll be teaching at both Temple’s Tyler School of Art and Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts in the fall!

So yeah, what’s cool about printmaking?

I fell in love with printmaking because this medium has so many possibilities to play with textures and materials. The best thing about printmaking is I can produce multiple prints and give it to family and friends. It's also easy to sell since it produces many editions. Once you have one image ready on a screen or plate, you can print on any surfaces such as paper, fabric, wood panel, wall, glass....etc. You name it!

Also it allows you to make a book with printmaking too, so what a medium to expand into all sorts of art forms. 

Your website also explains that your work “focuses on structures and architectural forms and its impact on the human body”. What do you think about the way the city of Philadelphia is structured for human bodies? Are there other cities and places that have made a lasting impression on you in this concern?

I think Philadelphia is really well structured for our body to move around and explore every place so easily! William Penn knew way before how this urban planning will be positively impacting on our bodies by making the city so walkable. I love that Philly is a walkable and bike-friendly city—it's a big deal considering that not many cities in the US are not designed like this. All the good creative things come from walking I believe. 

The one city I got inspired a lot by is Rome in Italy. I did a 1 year study abroad program at Temple Rome and it was a turning point to me in a way how I view the urban environments, culture, and history. Especially their piazzas (square or plaza) were quite impressivewhere many people gather, eat gelato, just sit down and enjoy the sun.

So when you were working on the concept for the Traveler's postcard what was the first thought for you when constructing the image? And also what media did you use to make the actual image?

The very first thing that came up to my mind was the brick row houses in Old City! Definitely all the brown warm tones from historical buildings around the city. Philly has such an unique architecture scenes that have been well preserved.

I started drawing this image with pencil on 4x6 paper, scanned this drawing, and then added colors and text through Procreate app in iPad. I can say that this postcard image is mix of pencil drawing with some digital touch.

That’s cool. And the way it came out on the texture of the paper is great.

Now for the more fun and random questions.

Just following your Instagram stories from time to time, it’s clear you’re frequently teaching workshops all around the city. When it comes to planning your life, do you have any type of system? Analog or digital?

I actually do both in analog and digital. Firstly, I write down all my schedules and things to do on my MD B6 Blank Notebook with a Blackwing pencil and then put important events as a reminder in my phone and laptop. In this way, it secures me more! I like writing things on paper so I can't give up on this even though everything becomes more digitalized!

I plan my life weekly. Every Sunday I sit down and write everything I need to do or my general schedule on notebook first, and then cross them out once the week goes by. I like to have a solid system and schedule because i have so many different workshops and classes in several institutions! i think its really important for me to stay organized and manage time well

What’s something you’ll spend money on, and something you refuse to spend too much money on?

I'll spend money on experience such as for traveling, learning something new -language, dance..., or trying interesting food! Oh, and for quality coffee and pastries. Something that I refuse to spend too much money on is clothing! I'm trying to minimize my closet and have a capsule wardrobe.

Area trend you wish would come back? Area trend you wish would retire?

Area I wish would come back is playing guitar and area trend I wish would retire is scrolling through my phone before going to sleep, hahahaha.

What’s something you wish people engaged with more?

I wish people engaged more with paper :wink: writing drawing reading.... screen can never offer that same experience as a paper!

And, any shout outs?
Shout outs—Let's take care of ourselves and love each other. 

Wow such nice answers. Thank you so much for doing this interview today. 
Thank you Monk!!!!

Thank you Lisa =]

Pick up Lisa's store postcard here or waltz into the store on a sunny day to pick up your own. You can send this postcard to friends and family or use it as a gift tag when you visit us. Sending postcards is a beautiful way to share a snippet of your travels with your loved ones.

Shop the postcard

Shop TRAVELER'S Company

Read Lisa's mini interview with TRAVELER'S

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