Diversity Comic Con planning committee member and FIT professor Dr. Kyunghee Pyun was interviewed by journalist Tanya Khan. Here’s how it went.

1. What is so special about Diversity Comic Con? 

FIT is known for a diverse place of learning among higher education institutions. Personally I find this event crucial in empowering students from various ethnic backgrounds and LGBTQ communities. “Standard characters” of literature or history that we’ve studied in primary and secondary education sometimes perpetuate gender norms or cultural stereotypes. This is a great opportunity to encounter one’s own implicit biases and to look for new ways of exploration. 

2. How is diversity educated through students d in Diversity Comic Con?  (through participation of students?—some words are missing?)

Students can learn about diversity by coming to the Diversity Comic Con and browsing a wide range of displayed titles. Many works are in development or in progress. By talking to creators at the Diversity Comic Con, students can find ways in which to develop their own stories or characters while they also help authors and illustrators think about new dimensions of artistic adventure. I hope innovative minds of FIT students will invigorate the creative process of participating artists. It is not just for FIT students who can learn from professional authors and illustrators. This is a mutual conversation that enrich the field of comics, cartoons, and graphic novels. 

3. Based on your personal experience as a guest, what do students gain from attending Diversity Comic Con? How were they impacted as a result?

I encourage my students to find a networking opportunity by attending the Diversity Comic Con. Many comic cons are expensive to attend. But this one at FIT is free to all. Students can find many publishers, published authors, emerging illustrators, or hobbyists. They are potential employers or clients of our students. Simply students can learn how to talk to attendees of comic cons by showing up and observing various booths. Talking to someone takes effort and practice. Talking well to your future editors and publishers is extremely important. I hope students will bring their portfolio or samples to the Diversity Comic Con. They should politely approach authors and editors to listen to their stories, but they should also show their works to others. Don’t be shy! If you don’t make an effort to engage with others, you are merely a passer by. I would also dress up appropriately for the type of genre you like to appeal to. I have taught a number of illustration majors in my art history classes. Most of them are avid illustrators with numerous drawings. Please bring some of them to the Diversity Comic Con and compare yours with those by professional artists and authors. In 2-3 years, you should be sitting at those booths. I think the organizers of the FIT Diversity Comic Con (including myself, a founding member) will be thrilled to have FIT alumni present their works. 

Dr. Kyunghee Pyun is an assistant professor of art history at State University of New York, F.I.T. (Fashion Institute of Technology) in New York City. She is also a visiting assistant professor at Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY. She has also taught at Wagner College, Montclair State University, Hunter College, Brooklyn College, Fashion Institute of Technology, and New School Parsons School of Design. She has BA from Seoul National University, MA and PhD from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. She is currently working on representation of monks and nuns in illuminated manuscripts. She also write on collectors of Asian art. Her articles have been published in Viator, Art History and Visual Culture, Sculpture Review, and other art magazines.