I first met Erin Kim this past summer when she was doing her internship in Santa Monica with Yahoo Enetrrtainment. I met her and my boyfriend after they got out of work and the three of us went to a free KCRW concert. She struck me as being very sweet and also in tune with the world around her.
Through photos, tweets, GIFs, written, pieces and any other way she can, Erin tells stories every day. She is studying New Media and Fashion at NYU Gallitan. This semester, however, Erin is studying in Berlin.
So, you’re a student, writer and you’ve got cool side projects going on all the time. I’m impressed! What’s a typical day like for you?
My favorite part of the day is create the outfit I will be wearing. I usually commute into New York City from my home in New Jersey. I really love learning, so I enjoy thinking about things in my classes at NYU [New York University]– last semester I took courses like Media and Fashion or Metaphor and Meaning, things that stimulate thought about storytelling, and media.
Every day I am on my social media platforms– Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook. I’m not shy on social media, I try to find my voice and put myself out there. Throughout any day, a moment might happen–a friend might say something stimulating, or I might see the perfect angle for a photo, and I will try to tell that story on some social media platform. I think my sixth sense is social media storytelling–it’s always on my mind, in a very natural, subconscious way.
This doesn’t really describe my typical day because some days I am always at home, and this semester I will be all in Berlin doing a whole new set of things. But no matter what, social media and storytelling is on my mind, as well as connecting with my friends and the people I love.
When you were younger, what were some of your big hopes and dreams? That could be career-wise or other wise?
In elementary school, I dreamed of being an artist. I was a quiet kid, scared of most people. But I didn’t mind putting pen to paper and drawing or painting. In third grade, I drew a portrait of my self for class in which I had a beret on with a palette of paint in one hand and brush in the other, and I was standing in the middle of my “art gallery.” As I grew up, my mom had me attend a summer writing camp at UC Berkeley. I had been journaling for a long, but never thought my writing outside of class could be something valuable to share until I wrote my first personal memoir that summer. Writing and sharing that story was the beginning of something awesome; I’m smiling right now thinking about it.
What are your big goals for the future now?
“Big goals” scare me. I really try to do what I can to “live in the now.” When I was younger, I might’ve been more prone to “big goals,” like being a famous journalist (high school dream). But now, I really appreciate learning and being who I am amidst people I love. Career-wise, I’d love to run social media for a fashion brand, or maybe work at a digital branding agency! But, I just decided this like within the last few months. No matter what, I hope I can tell stories, whether it’s through sentences, images, tweets, selfies, emoticons, gifs, whatever.
What projects are you currently working on?
Smile Style has been a wonderful street fashion project I started this summer while I was in Los Angeles. Unfortunately I haven’t been keeping it up in the last few weeks because I’ve been planning on another! I have a lot of ideas in my head, I need to learn which ones I should actually execute though. This spring semester I’m studying abroad in Berlin and conducting a fashion research project. It’ll be like an ethnography through street fashion and social media. I’m aiming to share street fashion photos via Instagram, and interview and meet up with creative, stylish people for a blog or maybe a zine! Kinks are still to be figured out.
Although some of the things I do are “projects,” I actually don’t like the term because that word makes the actual action sound very concocted and sort of dishonest or unreal. The “projects” I do are really extensions of myself, or the stories I really want to discover and tell. I don’t really see the things I do necessarily as “projects,” they’re just…me! But I guess I have to call them “projects” for lack of a better word.
What has been one of your favorite moments in doing Smile Style, your street fashion photography blog?
When I took a photo of two dogs in Washington Square Park I was chatting with a friend, and I said out loud, “omg, I really want to Smile Style those dogs.” And she asked “Do it! Why not?!” That made me realize style is really not trends, or the clothes you wear. It’s who you are, how you wear it, and the personality that someone might see when he/she passes you by. The whole Smile Style project is about challenging the definition of fashion and style as trend, but more about identity and the individual, and that was a special moment that really embodied that vision.
Who are some cool people that inspire you on a regular basis?
I’ve become very in love with every day narratives and I find the people I meet on the street for Smile Style more inspiring than any celebrity or typical cool person icon. Cool people are every where. Everyone has a story, but it may not be found or edited yet–that fact inspires me regularly more than any particular person.
The best compliment I ever received was when a girl I had just met that day, told me that I can find out someone’s story through conversation immediately upon meeting someone. It made me feel incredibly elated that anyone would recognize or consider that me just talking to strangers or people I know could be something worth noting, especially since that’s just how I approach life and conversation. But I guess it’s really true. Storytelling is always on my mind even when I’m not thinking about it.
(If I really had to pick some people, I’d say Eva Chen is an inspiring digital storyteller; she knows what she is doing and how to do it. I am also always inspired by my previous Social Media Manager when I interned at Yahoo! Entertainment–she is an honest, compassionate communicator and has a true curiosity about so many things that makes me want to learn as much as I can.)
What is one thing that makes you smile every day?
I LOVE SMILING, so it’s nearly impossible to pick ONE thing. But, I must say, when I am feeling so cozy under my blankets and my body feels one with my comforter, the thing that gets me to jump out of my bed is to think “what am I going to wear today?” (Or usually, what outfit I thought up the night before). Creativity is magical and, for me, putting details of an outfit together is my daily action of creativity and magic.
In the time since Erin first answered these questions, she began Style Intro, which explores the relationship of Berlin to its people. I am sure that no matter what she does from now on in life she will continue to smile and share love with others.
Top image via.