Category: Art, Creative process, Interview

I recently met up with South Korean sketch artist Uniquelab to ask him about his work; his love of lomography, manga art and animation; and whether there is a difference between  the ‘photographic’ eye and the ‘sketch’ eye. For those new to a growing art and music community called T489 Original Acoustic Music,  Sean – as he likes to be known – is the creator of the very cool artwork found on T489’s Facebook, Instagram and Soundcloud accounts.

BITA: You are a sketch artist, can you tell us a little about what triggers you to sketch a subject? 
UNIQUELAB: I have been passionate about drawing since I was young. I was the best in my class J. I drew many portraits of my friends with a pencil, a crayon and such things.
I actually liked carving so much too. I won some junior art contest with an engraving when I was 7 years old. I made a view of an aquarium. Fish, sharks, kids such things. I still remember it now. I also sculptured a tiny rabbit made of plaster when I was 7 or 8 years old. My father liked it so much. Drawing and carving, both of them are my favorite hobbies now. 
BITA: You often sketch portraits and can be seen sketching en situ in cafe’s or on the street. Do you have a preference?
UNIQUELAB: I’m trying to sketch portraits or views of urban street, as many as I can but have such little time to spare. In fact, I want to draw some faces or people going about their daily lives as an invisible man so they can ignore me and I can without being interrupted.
Perhaps in the future.
BITA: What are your influences? Manga Art and comics must be pretty high up there :-). (Katsuhiro Otomo; Kim JungGi). 
You like sketching but have you ever written comic stories strips?
UNIQUELAB: I was into Katsuhiro Otomo, Toriyama Akira from an early age. I also love Marvel Comics. They are the great artists.
I had a dream of creating a full-length comic book, so I tried and entered a short comic book contest when I was 17. It was not that bad but also I learned I have to learn tons of things there. It is like a movie, it is a composite art and needs a vast knowledge of things. I am still learning.
BITA: Would you say you have different styles and the pens each represent those styles?
UNIQUELAB: In my view, I’m very rough and wild style.
I used to sketch with only pencils. So I’m familiar with it but I thought that drawing with a pencil is like an incomplete art because it’s hard to preserve. I think the important thing about styles is not for me to define. I just try to understand what I draw and draw a lot, and the public’s evaluation will follow after it.
BITA: You seem to do sketches in as short a time as five minutes? 
Does the length of free time you have determine the style of your sketch? Do some remain incomplete because you run out of time?
UNIQUELAB: I think I’ve got a kind of frustration about drawing and also carving stuff. Yes, I want to run to the end till I feel satisfied. I’m considering about working as a full-time sketch artist but think not the time is not yet right :-).
BITA: Do you set yourself a challenge to sketch everyday? 
UNIQUELAB: Yes, I do. It’s the most important point for me. I push myself to do it harder everyday, even in the worst of circumstances. There’s no gain without a daily commitment.
BITA: You’re most seen sketching with a Lamy Safari pen but have also sketched using kuretake and akashiya brushpens. When would you use the latter and why? 
UNIQUELAB: It’s interesting to draw in ink. It feels like running to a dead-end load when I draw a line because there is no ‘UNDO’. That’s the beautiful part I guess, ha! Which is why I don’t prefer digital sketches. Using brushpens are… well, they’re just beautiful. I am trying to get used to them as if they were my own hands. Struggling everyday, mind you.
BITA: Do you ever sketch on a tablet or do you prefer native pen and ink? 
UNIQUELAB: I prefer the latter obviously. I have drawn a few things on a tablet but I didn’t like it.  My profile character is a digital sketch with my finger. The smiling boy, arm in arm.  However, I think it’s quite probable one day or other I will try it again. 
BITA: You also like lomography. Tell us a bit more about why you use 35mm film? 
UNIQUELAB: Lomo lc-a is so imperfect but that is exactly why I love lomography. The equipment is not important. It’s more a matter of perspective if you know what I mean :).
BITA: Do you see things differently through the lens of a camera than through your native eye when you sketch?
UNIQUELAB: Oh, a very interesting question. When I film, I mostly try to catch a particularly special moment in people’s life, but when I sketch, I try to keep as much of their lives in the drawing so as to make people feel it’s alive. I know my sketches are not perfect but this is what I’ve consciously been focusing on.
BITA: Do you have friends in the Instagram community? Does it feel like a creative collective on where you share views and ideas with other Instagram artists?
UNIQUELAB: Absolutely. I have gained many friends on Instagram and I think I’m so lucky and pretty happy about it. We all have different perspectives and thoughts but essentially we are ‘LINKED’. That’s why I share my work and enjoy other’s photos, music, sketches. Every moment is exciting.
BITA: Do you sell your work or do commissions? What are the challenges of the latter?
UNIQUELAB: I haven’t sold my work or done commissions for years because in a way I wasn’t satisfied my work was good enough. Combine that with being so busy at work and the opportunity hasn’t presented itself. That said, I’m now preparing to take orders in some way but will do so when I’m ready so that when I do take on a commission, I will do it perfectly and keep to my word. 🙂  
Check out Uniquelab on Instagram 

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