2011 NVA Winner: Jeseok Yi

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By the Print staff

Title/Type of Work: DesignerFrom: Seoul, South KoreaLives in: New Haven, ConnecticutAge: 28Education: Currently pursuing an MFA, Yale University BFA, School of Visual Arts, New York

Jeseok Yi, a.k.a. Jeski, employs a startling analogy to describe his talent and ultimate purpose. “Using a knife as a metaphor, I’ve always focused on sharpening it rather than what to do with it. Some knives kill but some save by a doctor’s hands. I’m always thinking how dangerous professional talent is when used in the wrong way.” And, Jeski confesses, he’s still searching to find the answer to “why I live and what would make my life meaningful.” To this end, his works are aimed more toward aiding the unfortunate. “I thought making poor people happy might have a much bigger impact than making happy people a bit happier,” he says, which is why there are many non-profit organizations on his client list, such as the Red Cross, World Vision, and the Salvation Army.

"For some it's Mt. Everest." American Disability Association, 2007.

"What goes around comes around" anti-war campaign, wrapping poster #1. Global Coalition for Peace, 2009

“I normally spend about 70 percent of my energy doing public-service work rather than commercial projects,” he explains, acknowledging the downside. “Is there enough budget in it? No. Never.” He continues, “but it’s a good challenge to learn how to find an effective way of promoting things in a smart way.”

Jeski envisions the future with “growing my present practice up to a more mature stage and making my ideal goals more realistic.” Resuming his metaphor, he states, “Honing my knife to be the world’s sharpest means nothing without defining its purpose. What will be the final influence of my work on mankind? Making type look perfectly great and doing Photoshop like a machine is not everything.” Despite all the deep thinking and talking, Jeski says that the historical work that he most admires is “the invention of the pencil with an eraser at the tip. This is the design I worship.” However, he immediately returns to loftier ideals when answering with whom he’d most like to collaborate. Not missing a beat, he responds, “Obama.”

I thought making poor people happy might have a much bigger impact than making happy people a bit happier.