A CONVERSATION WITH: Hyungi Park
On a recent morning, we met with Korean-American multidisciplinary artist, Hyungi Park at Goyo, her studio nestled at the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. Immediately upon talking with Hyungi, we were struck by how intuitively she embraces passion and duality. Read on for our conversation on identity, evolution, curiosity, and so much more.
Tell us about yourself and your background. Can you share more about how Goyo, HYUNGI INCENSE, and your intersection of arts developed?
I’m a multidisciplinary artist based in LA focusing on incense, bookbinding, tattooing, and art. I grew up in North Carolina, which felt pretty alienating as I didn’t realize there were actually communities of Koreans living in America until I moved out of my hometown. In college I pursued Sculpture + Extended Media, which I apply indirectly in my work at this point. When I moved to LA from NY over 4 years ago, I actually moved because I found the space I’m currently at now - it’s a two-building storefront studio with a house behind it. Initially I had too many ambitions with the space, but ultimately Goyo is my shop and studio focusing on incense, tea, homeware, and workshops. It’s the more refined version of all my work in those fields thus far, always changing and improving. I have many interests and get bored easily, so actually it’s quite helpful for me when I get into a creative block in one field, to just move onto a different project. When people ask me what I do, I still struggle to find the exact words, but the short answer I usually just say incense, and longer answer I find I have to explain a bit more.
Your incense, bookbinding, tattoo work, and presentation in general incorporate much consideration and respect towards the past and tradition. How does your Korean heritage influence you and your work?
Most of my work is a culmination of research on traditional practices and methods and blending it with modern innovations. I find a lot of inspiration from my Korean heritage, and I’m always learning. I love researching the history and different applications, for example- incense was historically used to measure time like a clock, along with also being a precursor to perfume, repelling insects, and some to even preserve medicine.
Like your art practices, your live/work space is blended. How do you divide your time among your interests and practices? How do you separate your personal and professional life? Is that important to you?
This is definitely the biggest struggle in my practice, my work is my life and it’s very hard to separate it. Also I tend to make my interests into work, so first step is trying to figure out how to keep my interests still interesting, but also keeping up with the more commercial side. Because my work is all so unconventional, I find it’s more manageable in a different way than if I were to work an office job. It’s much more rewarding despite having to do everything, I find it crucial that I’m held accountable for every decision that I do or don’t do.
How do you like to set the tone for your day and workspace? Do you have any daily rituals? Is there music you like to play and listen to while you work?
It’s important for me to start my day right, my morning ritual is a balanced breakfast- usually avocado toast or fruit, green tea, and lighting incense. I always have music playing when I work, which varies from ambient, jazz, techno, house, punk, new wave, anything really, music always helps me get into the rhythm of work. Tea and incense are a daily treat for me but I’ll also indulge in a really nice tea or sometimes even do an incense ceremony just for myself. I really appreciate the little things.
With the care you put into your space and workshops, it's evident how important community is to you. What does community mean to you, and what do you love most about your community?
I’ve always craved community since I was a kid, I didn’t really have Korean friends growing up in North Carolina and didn’t have any extended family in the states either. Even though LA is so sprawling, I love that you are more intentional with what you do and who you spend time with as a result. My community spans over different interests and backgrounds and it’s so exciting to me that something like incense or tattooing can gather so many different people.
Where have you been turning to for inspiration lately?
People! Just talking to people no matter who it is, I think perspective is the biggest gift and I’m just so intrigued by what people are thinking about, why, and where they came from.
Fill in the blank for us. Favorite…
Cafe: Kettl (NY, but coming to LA soon)
Book or Magazine: The Scent of Time - Silvio A Bedini (Academic journal from the 60s all about incense used to measure time)
Artist: Mika Rottenberg
Place to shop for home decor: The Good Liver
Place to escape to: a hike in the mountains nearby
Can you tell us what’s next for Hyungi Park and Goyo?
I am hoping to launch a tea line that would be sold through the shop, it really just goes hand in hand with incense. The dream is to build out a small tea room in the shop and also do tea tastings along with incense pairings and ceremonies. Crossing my fingers for this coming year!
Featured in this story:
Petal Blouse by Kkco
Afrodita Dress in Black by Tach
Origami Shirt in Mist White by Shirt Number White
Quilted Utility Belt in Black by Kkco