Moonassi takes us behind the illustrations

To correspond with the publication of Directions 2019, we recently spoke to Daehyun Kim, a.k.a. Moonassi, a South Korean visual artist pictured at work in his studio in this silent short film, about the beautiful dreamlike ink drawings he created for The Science of SleepBorn in 1980, Moonassi studied traditional Korean painting techniques and East Asian art history at the College of Fine Arts in Seoul. His work has been exhibited internationally and commissioned by The New York Times, Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin, Maison Kitsuné, and the recording artist Grizzly Bear, among others.

“I was always interested in how to harmonize East Asian art and the modern life I live,” said Moonassi. “So I decided to draw my feelings, my thoughts, and the things that I was worried about. I wanted to talk about ‘emotions’ that anyone could feel. It is the beginning of the series of ‘moonassi drawing’ that started in 2008.” In addition to still illustrations like the ones that accompany “The Science of Sleep,” Moonassi is known for his stop-motion animation works, like “Zero Circle,” a Samuel Beckett-inspired 2015 short film imbedded at the end of this post. In a recent email interview, we asked Moonassi to give us insight into his creative process.


Q: Can you describe your process when creating the images for the “Science of Sleep” story in Directions?
The creation process wasn’t really different from what I usually do. Just like I do for my personal work, I read the article carefully. The Design Hotels team gave me a nice summary of the article, so it was easy to develop ideas. After I get keywords, I try to find some connected memories or thoughts with the words, and also try to see some images from those words. 

Q: How did the theme resonate with you?
The topic, ‘how to fall asleep’ is something I think of almost every day, so I almost felt like the article was written for me.

Q: Who or what are your three biggest influences?
Gotama Siddhartha, Emmanuel Levinas, Hermann Hesse.

Q: What are you working on now?
I’m working on some large pieces for the upcoming art fair in Hong Kong. 

Q: Can you describe the project?
I wouldn’t say it’s a project, but I’m working on setting up a new daily working process. it is like trying not to think of the future too much, thinking about the moment, always being prepared for new work.


Directions is an annual magazine by Design Hotels that looks at movements underway in art, design, food, wellness and fashion, and how they affect the way we live and travel. This year’s issue explores the New Sanctuaries, spaces both physical and figurative, natural and designed, where we find renewal, shelter, communion, and expressions of the sublime. Buy it here!

Thursday, February 14th, 2019