Consultant of HUMAN ASIA (CEO, Design 54)
||The Asia Human Rights Forum, which has been held in every February, is one of the major activities of Human Asia. Since 2006, it has offered a discussion place where a lot of experts on human rights have gathered, addressed problems on human rights in Asia and tried to find a solution. There is a reliable backer who has made efforts to make the event successful by designing attractive posters. He also designed a leaflet and an activity report this time. This month, Hurasia met Jo Eui-Hwan, a director of Visual Information Design Association of Korea and photographer|
1. First of all, thank you for helping Human Asia. Please introduce yourself briefly.
I was born as the second son among three in Kim-Cheon, Gyeongsangbuk-do, 1954. Since I was young, I have been fond of drawing. After graduating Kim-Cheon High School, I moved to Seoul and majored in graphic design in Hongik University, photo design in Hongik Graduate School of Industrial Art, and then newspaper, magazine & publishing design at the Journalism Dept. in Hanyang University.
As a 14th ROTC cadet, I was commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1976, served as an infantry platoon leader, then served in combined forces command of the army headquarters and discharged as a first lieutenant in 1978.
Since I started to work as advertisement designer in LG Ad, 1978, I have kept working in printed media such as publications, magazines, and newspapers as an editorial designer, magazine editorial-in-chief, newspaper editor, and director of a design research institute. After retiring in 2007, I made a design studio called ‘Design 54’, and I’ve never left design field in my whole life. I made a debut as a photographer by holding a photo exhibition which I had planned for a long time and publishing a photo collection.
2. You have worked in Chosunilbo for a long time. What kind of work have you done and how did you become associated with Human Asia?
I started to work at the publishing department of Chosunilbo in 1984, and I redesigned Monthly Chosun, launched Home Chosun, and also worked as an editor-in-chief of a woman magazine FEEL, an editor at the editorial department, and a director of design research of Chosunilbo.
Editorial design of magazines, newspapers and publications has been my major works. Besides, I worked as a manager of large exhibition projects by Chosunilbo including Ah! Goguryeo, Special exhibition on Republic of Korea 50th anniversary, Lee Seuing-Man and founding a country, Special exhibition on the Korean War on June 25, 1950 and a doll exhibition of Lee Seuing-Euin and Heo Heon-Seon, etc.
As I worked as a director I led the development of a horizontal writing font which is now being written on Chosunilbo in 1998.
When Citizen’s Alliance for North Korean Human Rights held the first international conference, it became associated with Chosunilbo, and I had a chance to help in design and handling the conference. I was touched by people working there who were trying to make it despite tough conditions, and has been involved for a long time. Naturally I have been involved in Human Asia, too.
3. The photo on the poster of the Asia Human Rights Forum this year was quite unique. Is there any special reason you chose it? What is the message that you want to convey with that photo?
|| In fact, it was one of the unreleased works for my first private exhibition. I used it before showing it in the exhibition. It looks as if it were a human bone, but it is a small piece of wood which has been weathered by the sea. The original shape of wood disappeared, but it came to my sight to get a new life as a main character of the photo. When I saw the piece of wood which had wandered through the sea aimlessly for a long time and arrived at strange seashore, I associated it with the words like drift, refugee, boat people, samara, and so on.|
I collected these small pieces of wood on the seashore of Jeju Island for three years, and took them into photos, and had an exhibition called FLUX from 19th April to 18th May.
4. You have designed an activity report and a leaflet as well as posters. Where do you put an emphasis when designing?
| I prefer a simple design to a decorative, fancy one. I focus on a clear delivery of a message, which might be because I have worked in communication design. If a design is too much, the message is hidden and only the design is shown, so I focus on deleting unnecessities not to make errors in delivering messages as much as I can. I also try to make it at a low cost. Sometimes it seems to be too simple or too typographical.
5. I wonder if you have any project or work you want to do with Human Asia in the future.
Though I am not sure if it will be possible, I want to record the life of ethnic minorities in Asia with photos. I could not travel frequently as I have worked, but I have wanderlust. Documentary photo is what anyone who is interested in photo has dreamed of. Photograph is a strong expression media, and very useful to publicize the situation of human rights, gather assistants, and request the aid.
6. Since you shared your gift for social organizations, you must have felt rewarded as well as challenged. Please tell us when you had trouble and when you felt rewarded.
I have shared my gift before the term ‘gift donation’ was established. I felt comfortable with this kind of work, which makes me continue. Because it is not a business, its relationship is free from a contract. There are freedom and comfort to do anything as much as I like. When someone tells me what to do, I feel annoyed and don’t feel like doing it again even if she/he promises a million dollars. When I donate something, no one bothers me. When volunteers who work together thank me, I really feel rewarded. Now I am in the position where I am working with much younger people, so they don’t feel at ease with me. I am old enough to their father or uncle. It would be great they feel at ease with me like their older brother or younger uncle. I’m afraid I am too old to be treated like that.
Traslated by_Hyun Kyung Yoo, Ehwa Graduate School of Translation & Interpretation