April 14, 2023
Orietta Ibarrondo Gelardin

VLAB is pleased to present the solo exhibition "ORANGE RHYTHM" featuring Nina Park’s new creations that have never been presented before in a show. It will also be the first collaboration between Nina Park and VLAB gallery in Madrid.


Nina Park is a contemporary art painter and illustrator based in London. After earning a bachelor's degree in Illustration and Animation at Kingston University in London, she took part in several exhibitions. She has also been involved in a number of collaborations with the local government, the financial industry, fashion companies and other organizations. Since 2022 Park has been more focused on painting rather than on illustration and has created unique compositions of her own universe with vibrant colors and lots of humour. Park is like a storyteller who loves to talk to the viewer through her paintings. As a consequence of hardship, the inspiration for her works comes mainly from her own story.

We have taken this opportunity to interview Nina so she can tell us a bit more about her work and inspirations.

1. Who are your biggest artistic influences?

The two artists that I would say have had the biggest influence on my artistic style, in terms of artists that I admire, are Mogu Takahashi from Japan and Oliver Jeffers from the UK. Ever since I was young, I've been interested in specific shapes and colors. Oliver Jeffers is an illustrator and painter of children's books. His unique characters and composition that give a light yet heavy feeling to the story are impressive, and I even dreamed of becoming a children's book author. I really like the skills of using different media, unique colors, and humor in his works. As well as I do love Mogu Takahashi's bold colors, free forms and variations in composition it makes me feel free.

As for a specific person who inspires me with their attitude as an artist, there isn't one. When I see people who work hard in their respective fields and have a respectful attitude toward their lives, my heart becomes warm with admiration. When I see them sweating and shedding tears, putting in effort every day, I unconsciously think "I should draw every day with passion too." Even though every moment of life may not be stimulating or special, when I see them not losing their sense of humor and doing their best in their own position, it reminds me of my attitude as an artist.

2. Tell me about your favorite medium.

A pencil. While studying illustration, I explored and experimented with various materials, so I can answer this question without hesitation.

Pencils may seem like too classic and simple medium, but if you delve into them they are fascinating and can produce a wide range of expressions. Pencils have a monochrome color, but they can create various shades, textures, and line widths to depict objects.

From 9B to 6H, different shades of darkness are available, and the texture of pencils also varies depending on the brand. The H leads are thinner, the B leads are thicker, and the jumbo leads are even thicker. By using these three types of leads, you can create various objects such as wood, bricks, and even a rough mirror with just one monochrome color. The process of researching and finding these techniques is quite enjoyable.

When I was immersed in pencil drawing for a while, I always carried a drawing notebook and six different types of pencils in my bag. I drew and talked with my friends in cafes, and I also took them with me when I traveled, so I could capture the vivid scenes of my travels in drawings without any inconvenience.

Oh! I tried not to use an eraser as much as possible. At first, I was scared to draw a line in case I made a mistake, but seeing unexpected crooked lines’ emergence made the drawing process even more pleasurable.

3. Where do you find insipration?

Actually, it's a really obvious answer, but all inspiration comes from the things around me and within me. Since I work alone, I inevitably have a lot of time for meditation. When a single word suddenly pops into my head, episodes related to that word start coming back to me. Sometimes I look through my photo album and reminisce about the past, and if something seems interesting, I turn it into an image on my artwork.

If I try to start a project from a grand theme, the pressure to do it well actually results in less interesting work. I have to avoid putting pressure on myself so that I can create interesting work through free thinking. For example, with this exhibition, I thought about the things that left an impression on me during my first trip to Spain. Rather than focusing solely on Spain, I incorporated those impressions into my existing style of work. One of those impressions was oranges. I've been to Spain three times, including a recent trip, and I'm still amazed by the orange trees.

4. When is your favorite time of day to create?

I really love the sunlight, so I think I concentrate the best during the afternoon when the sun is at its highest point. I found that I work much better after taking a break in the morning, perhaps by having a cup of coffee and relaxing.

I recently moved my studio, and now there's a river right next to it. When I see the sparkling surface of the river, it refreshes my mind and I feel like I'm taking a walk along the river even though I'm not actually going outside. As a result, I'm able to work for a longer time without feeling tiredness.

5. Describe how art is important to society.

I think that art is like a beautiful knife. It has the power to make people happy with its intrinsic beauty, but it also has sharp thorns that can hurt others. Artists can express their voices elegantly through various forms of art such as painting, dance, and music. I believe that this type of communication can help society move in a better direction and encourage people to cultivate critical thinking and creativity together.

6. What motivates you to create?

I  think one big reason that keeps me drawing continuously is that I want to communicate many parts of myself with the world. I am a real chatterbox, so when I meet my close friends, I tend to talk so fast that I run out of breath. My drawings are a way of showing my own story to readers. I love conveying my stories to others through my drawings, and I also love that it opens up deep conversations with others. Starting with curiosity about my drawings, conversations can easily lead to communication with others.

Explaining to someone about myself and my surroundings and expressing it through my drawings is actually embarrassing and requires a lot of courage, but honestly, it’s way to communicate.

Working alone is a happy time for me to immerse myself in my own world, but at the same time, it can be a very lonely time.

However, the joy of having people who love my world is much greater, so I'm doing my best every day to create my art.


7. How do you define success as an artist?

Drawing my favourite pictures without any worries, and conveying my happy memories and emotions to those who appreciate my artwork.

8. Does art help you in other areas of your life? 

Creating art can be a mindful activity, which can help me stay present in the moment and improve my overall mindfulness practice. Indeed, Art helps me to develop self-awareness.

9. How do you develop your art skills?

People often think that artists work intensely for a few days when they're inspired and take breaks when they're not. However, I am quite the opposite. I set daily goals for myself and persistently work towards them, regardless of the quality of the result. I believe that art is a form of beautiful labor. Fortunately, the fluctuation in my work is minimal, except for physical stamina issues. I am used to being consistent, which is why I am not afraid of the blank canvas when I pick up my brush every day, even for a short time. Rather than creating a completely new style of painting, I prefer to gradually incorporate new skills into my familiar style. Therefore, if you arrange my paintings in chronological order, you can easily see the changes over time.

Nina Park | Orange Tree, 2023

10. What is your dream project?

Since I was a student, I have enjoyed working with various materials and forms. If I have the opportunity to hold an exhibition in the future, I would like to have an exhibition that connects 2D and 3D.

11. What's your strongest memory of your childhood? 

I was a tomboy when I was young. I had friends in every house on my block, and I called them out to play every day. Especially on hot summer days, while playing games like marbles or tag, I remember vividly feeling so happy when I took a few coins and bought ice cream and rested in the shade. That's why there is a lot of ice cream in my artwork - it represents the happiness I felt as a child. Also, my childhood memories inspired the Street Gangs series. I was like a kid gang member in the alleys. Memories of childhood may seem trivial, but they are the source of my work which supports me now.

Nina Park | At the Court 06, 2023