Student Spotlight – Meet Subin Yang

WeMake loves to showcase and support the future of the arts in our Student Spotlight Series. I recently had the pleasure of being introduced to Subin Yang, a colorful Digital Illustrator at PNCA (Pacific Northwest College of Art).

Here’s what Subin had to say about her process and journey as a Digital Illustrator.

Tell us a little about yourself. (Where are you originally from? What is your favorite medium to work in?)

I'm originally from Seoul, South Korea. I came to Portland to study illustration at PNCA. Just 2 years ago or so I was an all-out traditional illustrator and now I've almost completely switched over to digital illustration after studying at PNCA. My biggest and immediate inspiration is color so there's freedom in being able to pick the exact shade and color I want for my images when I'm illustrating digitally.

How did you find the medium that best worked for you? What was that process of discovery like?

All through my life learning how to draw, I'd always been obsessed with colors that are now in trend but not really 10 years ago. Mixture of pastels with neon and saturated colors are now pretty easy to see in design stores and clothes which make me immensely happy but I still feel like those colors are more easy to access for drawing on digital platform. I've gone through crayons, color pencils, markers, pretty much all the dry media that can produce close to the kind of colors I like and also be able to have total control over the mark making I make. One of the reasons I wanted to attend an art school was to learn how to digitally illustrate and now I've fully endorsed digital illustration precisely because of my love for being able to be expressive with colors. 

What were some of your early influences to pursue an education in the arts? Did you always want to be an artist when you were a child?

I've studied and made art since I was able to draw. A lot of it is also thanks my parents recognizing my love for art from young and letting me really pursue it though lessons, going to plenty of museums, and having art history books of my favorite artists since I was young. 

Outside of your art—what feeds your imagination and soul, and brings you joy?

Outside of art, traveling around and experiencing different cultures have been the biggest influence in my life. Thanks to my father's work, I had the opportunity to live in New Delhi, India for five years and those five years have become the most colorful part of my life. I was able to experience life outside of what I knew and learn about the rich culture and history of places far from Korea. 

I'm also now extremely fond of good food (street food, restaurant food, snacks, anything as long as it tastes good), once again lovely colors, jazzy music as well as sappy old kpop, giant stationary shops in Korea, children's books, deep sea creatures, and currently the farmers market here in Portland. 

 Our theme for this quarter is "perseverance." As an artist, what does this mean to you? 

As an artist, I feel the need to persevere every day. It's the dedication to keep on making something creative, but also to convey an idea that can better the world somehow and to communicate that message through my art to the audience. It can be something as little as making a cute imagery of a mole that can put a smile on someone's face to making a work to support the ACLU to keep continue fighting for human rights. Also in the world where artists are often mystified as people with "natural talents" who didn't have to put any time and effort into learning how to make marks, which is simply not true. I think it's important to constantly remind people and myself of the value of art and what goes into making good art. 

How do you hope your personal expression will reach others, through your art?

I hope that my personal expression can be empowering for some, funny to some, and just lovely to some people as well. I hope that at the end of the day, that my art can make people feel some sort of connection to. 

To see more of Subin's work, visit his website at
IG: @subinie94