Getty Center Central Garden, watercolor. Courtesy of and © Tayen Kim

Getty Center Central Garden, Tayen Kim. Watercolor. Courtesy of and © Tayen Kim

Clever, witty and unnervingly real—even in e-mail messages—illustrator and writer/storyteller Tayen Kim makes a living from creativity. Tayen works with various clients at a time, and also sells 5” x 7” prints of her work online for $15 a pop. Plus she shares plenty of cool-girl doodles on social media. Whimsical. Cartoonish. Fun. Tayen’s work includes mermaids, button noses, local landscapes, and even a cute little furry pup who could easily be modeled after your best friend’s dog (or your dog’s best friend).

Much of what Tayen shares is inspired by local people, places, and things, including favorite places in L.A. Our personal favorites (naturally) are her delightful #GettyInspired sketches.

Finish this sentence: I am ______.

A creepy weirdo? What are we going for here?

Tell us about your Getty sketches! 

They’re sketches I did while visiting the Getty Center and Villa with some of my favorite artists in L.A. I like gathering and mobilizing people, and facilitating the best progress in them. So recently I’ve begun meeting with groups of artists so that we might inspire each other. Also, food.

Getty Villa, watercolor. Courtesy of and © Tayen Kim

Getty Villa, Tayen Kim. Watercolor. Courtesy of and © Tayen Kim

What inspires you about the Getty?

I’ve visited the Getty Center, which happens to be a special and intimate place for me, many times—I spent my college years going there often for contemplation, and have viewed, in wide perspective, the city I love.

Who do you work for, what’s your process, and what would be your ideal work/art situation?

I get around. There are several clients who patronize me regularly and teams with whom I often collaborate, but I enjoy a varied work dynamic. I would enjoy a studio job for a bit, if I was passionate about the project, but likely not for a long, consecutive period. I was an in-house art director for an organization once for eight years, so I feel I’ve paid my dues.

Do you get the “writer’s block” of painting/illustrating? Is that a thing, and if so, does it have a name?

INDEED. I often post about it on social media. Doing so seems to be my creative outlet during times of drought. When the drawing think-meats are crippled, the writing ones tend to pick up the slack. I think many of us call it “art block”? “Creative block”? “Artist’s block”? Or just “blah.”

How do you feel about the whole “starving artist” stereotype?

Well, stereotypes exist because many people have often seen that situation or image, don’t they? I say an artist needs her art, and she also needs her work. Hopefully, at some point the two become the same thing, or at least overlap. However, until that happens, whatever one must to do to have both, one must do. Otherwise, what? You’re gonna die? Because you will die. In one way or another.

What do you do when you’re not working?

That’s difficult to say. I can be very artsy-fartsy and say that all of my life is art, and therefore every moment is spent “working” at my craft. But the sound of my core me rolling her eyes at that is making it difficult to type. I suppose, I should say the less creepy stuff. I cook, eat, watch movies, draw, and think about how to most efficiently keep the moulding in my living room dust-free. Oh, and go sketching at wonderful places, like the Getty! Can I get free parking for a year now?

See more of Tayen’s awesome illustrations on her website and on her Instagram.

This post is part of the series #GettyInspired, conversations with creative people inspired by the Getty.
See all posts in this series »