“It’s not a unicorn, it’s a horse with a sword on its head that protects my hopes and dreams!”
Dr. J.D. Dorian – Scrubs TV
“I’m actually a Unicorn.”
“Well, now that we have seen each other,” said the unicorn, “if you’ll believe in me, I’ll believe in you.”
Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There
“I know I’m not the wizard you were expecting, but I may just be the wizard that you need.”
The Wizard of Oz
I had an inner feeling that I would need to change the concept of the birthday artworks I did for Hyoyeon for the past 2 years (refer to posts: FOR HYOYEON: HYOYEON THE MYSTIC QUEEN, FOR HYOYEON: MYSTIC QUEEN 2018). No matter how I tried to give her the title of “Mystic Queen” in the nicest way possible, her image on my artworks was basically a witch.
About a month ago, I posed the following question on my @mindofsoul_celeste instagram account. Why does the word “witch” have a negative connotation but a wizard like Harry Potter is highly revered? Maybe my understanding of the two words hadn’t been clear all along. I had always thought the difference between the two was that a witch is a female with magic powers whereas a wizard is the male counterpart.
Now that I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that a witch is often portrayed as an evil character that most probably even Hyoyeon herself didn’t like the idea at all, I know I’ve got to do something to completely change this concept. In fact, I already always have an alternative image given to Hyoyeon all the while. In contrary to the Mystic Queen image for her birthday artworks, I often portrayed her as a magical unicorn in my christmas cards and chinese new year ang baos for her in the past years.
So yes, this year she’s no longer a Mystic Queen nor a witch. She’s the one and only Unicorn Hyo.
Please call her Hyonicorn.
I had actually started sourcing for the materials needed for Hyoyeon’s artwork as early as 2-3 months ago, around the same time I was doing for Tiffany’s. It all began when I chanced upon a stall that sells very pretty, large unicorn horn hairbands and hair clips that I was so sure I was going to use them for Hyoyeon’s artwork this year. My idea was to clip one of these unicorn horn hair clips onto a wide brim hat which had been a constant key feature in my past years’ birthday artworks for her in order to maintain consistency. I sought inspiration from this photo I got from Google images for the kind of hat that I thought would suit Hyoyeon well.
As for the reference photo for Hyoyeon, I have very strong impressions of her wearing a series of denim outfits for My Denim Diary, a collaboration with the fashion brand, H&M.
I thought she looked really great in denim! So aside from a unicorn, I kinda also wanted to portray her as a fashionista wearing denim. (I couldn’t help recalling how Sooyoung used to call her a “fashion terrorist” on an old variety show to refer to her very bold, unusual fashion sense during their trainee days lol!) So ultimately, I chose this particular photo that I cropped to her upper half.
So without further ado, let me share the process of making this artwork in detail.
First, I used a nice piece of scrapbook paper with a sky design and tints of rainbow colours that I found at Popular and pasted it over a gesso board from ArtFriend using large double-sided tape.
Next, I started sketching Hyoyeon’s face based on the reference photo I had chosen of her. When I did it on the first night, the effect did not come out well as I was both mentally and physically tired after a whole day at work at Design Orchard and yoga class earlier on. It looked as if Hyoyeon was looking at me with a sceptical look on her face lol.
The next morning when I woke up refreshed with new energy, I made some adjustments to my original sketch here and there and she looked much more at ease now. Hahaha.
Then I had to take a break to go out for a couple of job interviews and got back to it again as soon as I returned home. Made further improvements and extended the sketch to her shirt as well. I thought she turned out looking quite manly in my sketch. Kekeke.
Then at the quick spur of the moment, I decided to boldly paint her face and neck with watercolours too, something I didn’t dare to do last year.
Next, I was going to make use of these two denim fabric scrapbook papers (1 polka dotted, 1 striped) to make her outer shirt and wide brim hat. I actually got them a long time ago originally for other purpose but didn’t use them eventually until now so I thought they came in handy for Hyoyeon’s artwork!
The most satisfyingly delightful step next was to combine all these separate pieces together onto my gesso board.
Lastly, I attached the most important key feature of this artwork, the large, rainbow coloured unicorn horn hair clip with decorative ribbon and a unicorn graphic at the centre (coincidentally the same image I used to make her Christmas card in 2017!), onto the top of the hat.
Then to add the last finishing touch like 画龙点睛 (dotting the eyes of the painted dragon), I glued an unused spare button that I found on my table onto Hyoyeon’s shirt!
I initially planned to decorate the background with some blue flowers too like I did last year, but I was so comfortable looking at my artwork that I thought it was already good enough at this point. The empty spaces surrounding my subject are comfortable and compensated by the presence of those clouds. There was an intriguingly peaceful feeling that this artwork gave me. There is another Chinese proverb that says “画蛇添足”. I don’t wish to overdo my artwork by adding flowers to my already beautiful background; it would be like adding legs to the snake that you draw.
So I’m done! Surprised at how I managed to finish this within a short span of 2 days, all thanks to the positive good energy that I was surrounded and empowered with!
More detailed photos of the final artwork coming your way! 📸
Besides this artwork, I’m also complementing it with a gold unicorn horn hairband and a blue flowery hairband whose flowers I originally intended to detach and use for this artwork as gifts for Hyoyeon.
I spent a long time admiring my own artwork after that. I loved how everything just fell into place so perfectly as I recalled the process of making it. It was fascinating even to myself too, how the unicorn horn somehow just magically transformed the wide brim hat into a pointed one so nicely. Yet it didn’t make Hyoyeon look like a witch anymore now, but she now looks like some highly respectable wizard indeed, like Dumbledore from Harry Potter lol. Sometimes, I thought she looks like Michael Jackson in here too because of the stylish outfit. Hehehe Dancing King of the History versus Dancing Queen of Kpop. 💃🏻
To Kim Hyoyeon aka DJ Hyo, Dancing Queen, Hyonicorn,
Hope you like my artwork this year! May you embrace your uniqueness, harness your true powers and spread your magic to the whole world like a unicorn!
HAPPY HYONICORN-Y BIRTHDAY!! 🦄🎁💖
Unicorn… or Wizard?? Finished my artwork for Kim Hyoyeon this year!! HAPPY HYONICORN-Y BIRTHDAY @Hyoyeon_djhyo! Hope you like it! 🦄🎁💖
— Celeste Koh (@mindofsoul27) September 21, 2019