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From Us In Charcoal: Seyun

Seyun Om (she/her/hers), is a senior from Atlanta, Georgia studying Graphic Design at Boston University College of Fine Arts. Born in Seoul, she immigrated from South Korea when she was 12 years old. Since then, her identity has been constantly shifting. She began her story with Charcoal as an Art Director during her junior year and is now one of Charcoal's layout designers.

Get to know them:

What’s your family background? How has your family background influenced your upbringing?

The biggest influence on my upbringing was how I was raised in a very Korean household where I would only speak to my parents in Korean. While I didn’t understand its significance to that at the time, being connected to Korean culture is very meaningful to me now. However, I grew up in a predominantly white area in middle school and high school which made me aware that I wasn’t like most people in my town. When I was younger, I remember wishing that my parents would be more American like many of my Korean-American friends’ parents because I would feel self-conscious about being seen as a “foreigner” in public spaces. Looking back, I’m happy that I can speak Korean with my family.

Do you have a favorite cultural celebration or tradition?

My favorite tradition has always been Seollal or Korean New Years. I love tteokguk (rice cake soup) and how my extended family would get together to celebrate.

How did your journey with Charcoal begin?

I knew Charcoal existed since my freshman year, but I never had the chance to actually work with Charcoal until the end of sophomore year. Since Charcoal was started by CFA students and I was a CFA student, I heard a lot about Charcoal. It’s displayed in the SVA library as well! I was luckily selected as the Art Director in my junior year, and that was the beginning of my career with this publication.

Best and hardest part of the position?

The best part is interacting with and designing for talented POC artists on the BU campus. It’s so amazing being able to support and intermingle my thoughts with their incredible works. The most difficult part when I was an Art Director was my workload; I was the only one designing layouts for the most part and it was really difficult managing everything in addition to my regular school workload.

Are you part of any clubs outside Charcoal? Do you feel a sense of community in any? Compared to Charcoal?

I’m in a D&D group right now as part of the board game club, but my graphic design program is definitely my biggest source of community. The program has around 30 people and we spend a lot of time together in the studio.

What are your hobbies and passions?

I usually cycle through my hobbies, but my current hobbies are looking at clothes, going to concerts, and going to arts events! I love clothes and dressing up, so I spend a lot of time just trying to figure out how I can more effectively utilize my closet. I also really really love music. I was a DJ with WTBU for 3 years and I just spent an ungodly amount of money on concert tickets. This semester I’m heading to 5 concerts! Another big passion of mine is the arts. I’m really into museums, ballet performances, and theater. I’m going to see a ballet performance next month and hopefully I'll head to some BSO concerts soon.

What’s been the best thing about your college experience?

The best thing about my college experience was definitely the opportunities and the people I’ve met here. In Boston, I was able to meet so many new people whether it would be from my major or a conference I attended. I’ve experienced so many emotions (with emphasis on love and happiness) from the encounters that I wouldn’t trade for anything else. Being in Charcoal is definitely one of big influences and has opened up so many doors, personally and professionally, for me. I had a hard time in high school and being in college was the first time that it felt like people “got” me.

Being in Boston definitely gives a lot of new opportunities as well; it’s big enough to have everything that’s essential but also small enough for everyone to be well-connected to each other. There are art book fairs and conferences on pretty much everything in this city which allows me to explore my interests, but not on an overwhelming level. BU is a great school and I love the graphic design curriculum here; the quality of education is really good.

Do you regret anything from your college experience? Would you change anything?

I’m not the type of person to regret much but one thing I do wish I was more outgoing in freshman and sophomore year. I’m a pretty shy person so talking to strangers has always been hard for me but I think I would’ve had even more fun if I had the balls to start conversations with people.

Has there ever been a time when you felt you were struggling or overwhelmed? How did you overcome it? How did you grow/ what did you learn?

There is not a moment that I don’t struggle but my biggest hurdle was my junior year for sure. The previous semester, the beginning of the pandemic, was tough, and doing art classes on Zoom was a near impossible task that made everyone feel burnt out. On top of that, being the only designer for Charcoal was such a gargantuan task. I constantly felt anxious and overwhelmed from the workload that I had to do. I had trouble communicating with the staff at the time and felt really isolated with barely anyone to help me. The E-Board members definitely pitched in, but it still felt like I had too much on my plate.

The online issues were difficult, but the hardest was designing Nude – the content wasn’t finalized until the very end. It was not an easy task, and a friend I recruited to help ended up going MIA so I had to design 100 pages in 3 days. Looking back at it now, my work speed increased a lot after and it was a great learning experience. I would not wish that upon anyone though. It’s not my proudest work, but I’m happy that I was able to print it.

How have you changed over the years? From high school to college? From freshman to current year?

High school to college was a huge transition for me. I was really shy and timid in high school with barely any friends because I felt like no one really understood me. It was a big change coming from the suburbs of Georgia to being in Boston. It felt so relieving to be able to let go of my past that I wasn’t happy about and start over with a new slate. I became a lot more outgoing and happier. It was also so refreshing to take classes I’m actually interested in.

This is where the big transition happened. I grew my hair out, got them colored, cut them, got bangs and grew so much as a human being. I dated, broke up, caught feelings, got broken up, and repeated this multiple times. Being in art school, I’m challenged to think about myself and others and it greatly changed how I think. I learned how to be thankful and appreciative of what I have and I’m really happy that I came to BU. I met some amazing people, and I’d like to think I became a much better human.

Plans for the future (near or far)? What are you gonna do with that $300,000 degree?

I’m going to graduate and move to NYC to be a graphic designer there. I really wanna be involved with the independent publishing scene so hopefully I can do that as well!

How would you describe/ define yourself to other people? How would they describe/ define you?

I’ve always introduced myself as a funny Korean and Korean-American. I love typography and graphic design and I think that’s how other people perceive me as well. On the inside, however, I’m still insecure and afraid, but I’m working through it. My friends think I’m nice and passionate about graphic design but also picky with people (they’re not wrong). I’ve gotten that I look hard to approach in the beginning though (they’re also not wrong) but I’m definitely very weird once you get to know me.

Any Hot Takes?

I believe pineapples belong on pizza. No contest at all. I will die with my Hawaiian pizzas.

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