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When I described the job of illustrator to a friend, he was amazed people would pay for art which had yet to be created. This is one of the many reasons why illustration is a great life, but my favorite reason is the chance to collaborate with others who may inspire.

Having worked with many art directors over the years, these were the qualities of the great ones:

•    They make you feel like you are working on more than just a job.

•    They appreciate what you bring to the table.

•    Sometimes the difference between good and great is subtle, but the great ones know.

•    They allow you to push boundaries but also guide you back when you’ve driven off the road.

•    With a special few, there is a chemistry when you are both able to read one another’s minds.

SooJin Buzelli possesses all of these qualities. When SooJin calls it feels like I’m her favorite illustrator but I’m 100 percent sure every illustrator she calls feels the same. SooJin seems excited to have you working for her. Even though she may be a huge fan, she will call you out if you are not reaching her standards. SooJin is a pro who manages to separate her personal and professional opinions.

Once SooJin called while we were working on a large feature and it was agonizing for her to ask for a revision. You could tell it was killing her because she has a lot of trust for my instincts. I was also unsure of the element in question and left it in so she could decide. This is how much we trust each other. SooJin also has the uncanny ability to pick the sketch I’m most excited to do for any assignment. It happens so frequently I wonder if she has a secret webcam in my studio.

I feel like a proud uncle since we have worked together since the beginning of her career and it’s a thrill to see the young art director who, many years ago, was afraid to call, grow into one of the most respected and confident art directors today.

It was my great honor to introduce SooJin for the Richard Gangel award at the Society of Illustrators 61st Annual Awards Presentation.

James Yang

A graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, SooJin Buzelli has art directed and designed award-winning publications since 1996. Her visionary design for PLANSPONSOR magazine has been followed by art direction of many of Asset International’s products, including PLANADVISER and Global Custodian magazines, and the newest Asset International brand, Chief Investment Officer. She’s received recognition from many art and design organizations, including the Society of Illustrator, the Society of Publication Designs, the Art Directors Club of New York, Communication Arts, Print, 3×3,  L.A. Society of Illustrators, American Illustration, Spectrum and AltPic.

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