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INTERVIEW WITH ART DIRECTOR OF 'THE PARIS REVIEW', CREATIVE DIRECTOR FOR 'FSG' AND PAINTER

Na Kim by María Camnar

Na Kim was interviewed in her Brooklyn studio.


MC: How do you relate to time? 

There’s not enough of it. Can I say that? 


MC: What does a typical day look like for you? 

I wake up, have coffee, walk my dog — moon. Then, I walk to my studio, answer emails, and make a list of what has to happen that day. Being efficient with time is important because I do a lot of things. 

Na Kim at her studio with her paintings and tools.

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MC: Do you want to say more on that? 

Sure. I’m the Art Director for The Paris Review, and the Creative Director at FSG ( Farrar, Straus & Giroux ) , and also a painter.


MC: What would you say is the biggest difference between the two jobs?

They scratch different parts of my brain. With The Paris Review I’m constantly learning something new. It forces me to really look at art. It’s also more stressful because it’s not only about the art work being good, but understanding how it fits in the history of the magazine. FSG is a publishing house, I work directly with the authors and editors, and I’m focused more on creating the artwork itself. 


MC: Do you work with music? 

Yes, I listen to — classical music, jazz, The Grateful Dead. But also, this is embarrassing, Harry Styles. We have to embrace our multitudes. 

Na Kim at her studio, wearing the Paco Pant and Lola Blouse.

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MC: Favorite body part? 

My favorite thing to draw is the mouth. Is it too cliche to say the eyes? It fascinates me that we never know what another person is seeing. Also, making eye contact is so intense. 


MC: What do you think is a misconception people have about you? 

That I’m very serious, I’m not. I’m very serious about my job, but I’m not a serious person. 


MC: How did you get your foot in this world? 

I was a bartender after I graduated for about four years. I lost a lot of time. One day I knew I wanted to get on another path so I emailed the art director at FSG and told her I wanted to learn more about graphic design. She said there was an internship opening up. I took it. Ten years later here I am. 


Na Kim and her paintings.

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MC: What would you say is your biggest ally for this work? 

I would say it’s my sensibility. 


MC: In your design work, you strike me as someone who can easily step into the vision of the artist. You remove yourself, so you can listen to their world, do you feel that way? 

Thank you for saying that. I do, I put a lot of care into everything I do, and part of that is being able to remove myself. It’s not about what I want to say. In that regard I’m the least important person in the room.

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