She provided art for this week’s story, “The Wreck at Goat's Head” by Alexandra Manglis.
This interview was conducted by email in November 2016.
Tory Hoke: As an illustrator, how did you get where you are today?
Susie Oh: I've always loved drawing and went on to study illustration at Pratt Institute.
Tory Hoke: Your work combines rounded shapes and soft textures with vibrant patterns and colors. How did you develop this style? What effect would you like your work to have on your viewer?
Susie Oh: I usually place a wash across my surface before I do any sketching. The colors dictate the mood, and then I find the forms. I also love the "flatness" of classical East Asian painting, and the deliberate unreality of European medieval art: the heavily molded, sculptural shapes in skewed planes. I think the disorienting effect, somehow, tells a more psychological truth than a perfect rendering in three-point perspective.
Tory Hoke: Tell me about your Homunculus series. The images are charming and upsetting at the same time. What inspired these?
Susie Oh: I love Renaissance images of the homunculus: a miniature, fully grown human circulating through the semen or blood. So I use these ageless, genderless, featureless characters to express mental states that I can't articulate in words.
Tory Hoke: You design paper dolls as well—and create animations from them. What is your process like for those? What excites you about them?
Susie Oh: They're another storytelling medium, and since cutting them out and manipulating them are so much like child's play, I can take them as "art" less seriously. In that way, the process is more liberating, more fun.
Tory Hoke: What is the art community like where you are?
Susie Oh: New York City is huge, so there are different niches; it's a city that has always drawn artists.
Tory Hoke: What other artists inspire or interest you?
Susie Oh: William Blake and Odilon Redon are lasting inspirations. Right now I'm also drawn to "outsider artists" like Carlo Zinelli and Charles A. A. Dellschau.
Tory Hoke: What would you like to see more of in contemporary F/SF art?
Susie Oh: I'd like to see more writers like Ursula K. Le Guin and Octavia Butler, who have broader worldviews outside of traditional Eurocentric fantasy. I think the genre has definitely become more inclusive of minority voices.
Tory Hoke: What's your dream project?
Susie Oh: I'd love to do a series of illustrations about some visionary or mystical subject, like a biography of an alchemist or an early naturalist.
Tory Hoke: What's next for you?
Susie Oh: I wish I knew! I hope to illustrate more interesting stories!
Tory Hoke: Thank you for your time, Susie! It's been a pleasure.
Susie Oh: Thank you so much!