Credit: nft now

The Gateway Korea: Q&A with Krista Kim, DeeKay Kwon, and Grant Yun

BY Erika Lee

August 07, 2023

As we eagerly await the arrival of The Gateway Korea, we invite you to join us on the journey to our flagship event going global. The Gateway will feature an audio-visual gallery where art, technology, and community unite. Attendees will also be able to engage in fireside chats with visionary creators worldwide, representing both Western and Eastern cultures.

As we are on the road to Korea, we’ve interviewed some of the biggest Korean creators in the Web3 space who will be exhibiting at the event, each pioneering their artistic journey in unique ways.

Credit: nft now

First, we have DeeKay Kwon, the prodigious 2D animator from South Korea. With over a decade of experience in animation, DeeKay ventured into the NFT space 2.5 years ago, pushing the boundaries of traditional art and exploring new horizons within the digital realm.

Next, we have Krista Kim, a Canadian Korean who has spent 13 years living in Seoul and other parts of Asia. Her artistic expression delves into meditative painting in the digital age, where she skillfully merges technology as a mechanism for wellness, bringing harmony and serenity to the ever-evolving digital landscape.

Grant Yun, a Korean American born and raised in Southern California, completes the trio of influential creators. Grant’s work creates extraordinary from the ordinary, creating art that reflects simplicity and attention to detail.

Together, these artists are shaping the future of art in the Web3 space and embodying the essence of cultural diversity and creativity that The Gateway seeks to celebrate.

In a conversational Twitter Space, nft now sat down with Krista Kim, Grant Yun, and DeeKay Kwon to dive into their Korean identity, what they’ll be showcasing at The Gateway in Korea, and Korea’s impact on global culture.

nft now: How has your Korean-American heritage influenced your art?

Deekay: Well, I grew up half of my life in Korea and the half in America. So, this background has influenced me a lot as an artist. I believe my style of art, which you know, people find very cute, aesthetic, and nostalgic, it’s definitely influenced by Korean culture. And the simplicity of design is influenced by America. I went to graphic design school, so I think that’s a huge influence there, too.

Grant: So both my parents are Korean, but my dad moved to America when he was basically like one year old. It’s been pretty cool to, you know have a parent who is like identifies as Asian American, Korean American. And then of course my mom, came to America shortly after marrying my dad. Korean was actually my first language when I was growing up and I lived in Korea for a little bit as a young kid and would travel quite a bit. My mom and my aunt who both helped raise me had their Masters in Art. Growing up, just seeing their paintings on the walls, which were mostly reflective of Korean traditions was really inspiring to me.

Krista: My dad is a Supreme Grandmaster of Taekwondo, so he actually pioneered Taekwondo in Canada. He was a real influence on me in learning about Korean culture. He taught me and my two younger sisters martial arts. I remember learning how to meditate, the ethics codes, the discipline all of that was very very formative for us growing up. So for me, my art as a meditator, bringing Eastern philosophy and that blend of east and west is truly what I’m doing. I’m reinterpreting what I’ve grown up with.

nft now: What will you be showcasing at The Gateway Korea?

Deekay: My recent one-of-one sold through AOTM called, ‘Am I Dreaming?’ It’s basically a self-portrait that visualizes how I spend most of my time. I’m usually, like alone in the dark, you know, constantly thinking about ideas and trying to bring them to life. It’s a mixture of struggle, enjoyment, and sleepiness and I usually work a lot during like very late hours. A lot of the time, I run into a wall and doubt myself sometimes, and then like I take a short nap. I wanted to visualize that and animate that somehow. So that’s how I came up with the Am I dreaming piece.

Krista: The first piece I’m showing is ‘Continuum,’ which is a piece that is sort of touring around the world. I created it back in 2017, and it first started under a different name, ‘8 by 8.’ I wanted to create this large screen activation as a public art installation for meditativeness and healing. It’s showing, of course, in Gateway and Seoul, but I just did Tianjin, China, at Summer Davos for the World Economic Forum. It will be showing again in Davos, Switzerland, for the conference in January. So it’s really gaining momentum and going around the world as a message for, you know, bringing people together in the digital realm.

The other piece that I am showing on a smaller screen is called ‘Resonance.’ It is a slowly revolving rough diamond because I see all of us as precious. And we are all diamonds. We’re rough diamonds, and diamonds are created under pressure.

Grant: The piece has the word LA in it for Los Angeles, and it’s really kind of a reflection of growing up in California, I grew up in the Bay Area. But you know, oftentimes, we would go down to SoCal, specifically LA. We had friends and not family, but we have very close friends there, all Korean as well. And LA is one of the biggest hubs for Korean Americans in the United States. And so when I wanted to share a piece for The Gateway that would be showcased in Korea, I wanted to share work close to home as a Korean American. There is a unique culture to Koreans here in America and those who are trying to find a different identity apart from those who are native to Korea itself. For others, it could just be a landscape illustration of Los Angeles. And so it’s really what you take from it. But for me, it’s a little bit more personal.

nft now: Korea is currently experiencing a moment of global cultural crossover. Why do you think that is?

DeeKay: I think Korea always has been at the front forefront of the technology trends, it just feels pretty natural for Koreans to try and adapt to new things in technology, as you know, as humans move forward into the future. Additionally, Korean culture had a significant influence worldwide such as K-pop, Korean movies, Korean cuisine, fashion, and all that.

Krista: The way I look at it now, it’s really beautiful to see how my children are so comfortable and so happy making friends. And yeah, it’s much more multicultural and much more global. And I think that with digital technology, even more so. So I believe in more fluidity, and especially cultural fluidity because of the technology that children are now exposed to.

Grant: I think this movement of Korean culture spreading across the globe is, I ultimately do think it’s just a result of the country developing as a result of Westernized subsidization, you know, following the Korean War. But I think Korea has done a really good job at taking advantage of all the opportunities that it’s been given. They are also quite a superpower when it comes to packaging culturally relevant things for the rest of the world to digest, in the form of music and film.

This interview transcript has been edited for concision and clarity.

For the full and uncut interview, listen to our Twitter Space.

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