A doorway to the marvellous
Baek Heena is one of Korea’s most recognized picture book artists. With a background in film animation, her unique visual style features handmade miniature figurines and environments painstakingly lighted and photographed. She has published thirteen picture books that are popular throughout Asia, a number of which have been translated.
The jury’s motivation
"With exquisite feeling for materials, looks and gestures, Baek Heena’s filmic picture books stage stories about solitude and solidarity. In her evocative miniature worlds, cloud bread and sorbet moons, animals, bath fairies and people converge. Her work is a doorway to the marvellous: sensuous, dizzying and sharp."
Baek Heena was born in 1971 in Seoul. She studied education technology at Ewha Womans University in Seoul and animation at the California Institute of the Arts in the United States. After working in advertising and multimedia for children, she began to create her own picture books when her daughter was born.
Baek Heena’s picture book worlds open the door to magic and wonder, and her original techniques and artistic solutions breathe new life into the picture book medium. Her bookmaking is a time-consuming process requiring devoted attention to construction and sculpture as well as lighting design. Baek has won multiple awards for her work, both in South Korea and internationally.
In her debut book Cloud Bread (2004), Baek Heena invites readers into a world of “what if.” The story takes place on a rainy weekday morning when two kittens find a little cloud and take it home. From the cloud, their mother bakes magical bread that gives them the ability to fly. The book has given rise to a television series, a musical, and a line of toys. I Am a Dog (2019) is dedicated to the dogs of her childhood. It is a finely-tuned tale of a dog who misses his mother and siblings, but comes to realize that he has a new place in a loving household and a new job as its caretaker. For this book, Baek hand-crafted some fifty clay dogs, each with minute differences in posture and facial expression. Other important works include Magic Candies (2017), Moon Sherbet (2011), The Strange Visitor (2018) and Bath Fairy (2012).
Please note that the titles mentioned above are not the original titles; they are the titles used by Baek Heena’s publisher in its international marketing.
Photo of Baek Heena in the top: Jieli Publishing House Co., Ltd,