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    Isabel Kim (b. 1996) is a digital-interdisciplinary artist currently living in Philadelphia. She makes work about the internet and the connections that derive from it. Also her face. Humor is very important to her work. She received her BA double-majoring in Fine Arts and english from the University of Pennsylvania in 2018, and is attending law school at the same institution.
    They keep telling you that your writing is sad but you don’t see it. See, you’re so divorced from your own emotions that you couldn’t recognize sad if it punched you in the tits. This is the other thing that’s wrong with you: you use the phrase “punched you in the tits” in the second line of your story. This is giving the wrong impression of the narrative you’re becoming. It gives away your gender and your ease with foul language. It gives away your violence, your sexuality, your carelessness. This is an accurate slicing of reality. That’s the third thing that is wrong with you: you use phrases like “slicing of reality” as if they mean anything at all. You are trying to cut the fat out of your prose. Your dreams are liquid violet, velvet irises — purple. This is your hubris: you are writing a story about writing. Right now you are sitting in a coffee shop. All writers are always sitting in a coffee shop, look at the landscape of laptops and downturned eyes, hear the clicking fingers — emails, essays, poetry. Here is everyone talking. Here you all are, speaking with your fingertips. Here is concentration music, ambient chill, study flow, writing/programming spotify playlists. Keep the hindbrain occupied so you can get to the real business of thought. You are never trying to write anything sad. You don’t know what sad is: is sad a grave? Is sad the rain? Is sad Jack, Rose, an iceberg and I’ll never let go? Your best friend is crying in the movie theater and you have never known why. Your best friend is crying in your living room and you do not know what to offer. You feel like a cat with a mouse-corpse laid at your owner’s feet. Is sad: here is the boy you disliked and here he is dead. Here is the girl you never knew and here you are dissecting her death. Here you are laughing about dead kids at midnight halfway across the country and your friends are staring at you. You don’t know how to explain humor. You’re terrible at explaining yourself. You’re supposed to use I statements — that’s what all the literature says — but you savor the imperative “you,” far superior to the intimate “I.” You can only write about yourself in abstraction. You can’t write longhand anymore. You should have been a doctor. Your handwriting is all scrawled atrocious. It is too close to the heart. Your mother used to make you practice your “a’s” because she thought they weren’t beautiful. She’s the sort of woman who drives an hour out of the way to buy your favorite snacks and tells you that you’re beautiful and that you would be prettier if you lost some weight. This is what love is. You’ve never not known love and still you don’t understand the giving of it. Here is your secret: you mostly never understand anything. Your test scores are lying: you’re always saying the wrong thing. You’re aware that you are a non sequitur, but everyone else is a black box enclosed in a glass cage of emotion — you can only talk in cliches. You can talk about yourself only as a separate person. You are a Chinese Room. You are always guessing. This is why you can write. You learn how to touch-type. You close your eyes and pretend. Bypass the vocal cords, the tongue, the tangle and the stutter, the creeping fear of tenderness. Keep everything electronic as if to make something physical would mean real, as if matter matters. Nothing you write was ever meant to leave the screen. You want to be memetic. You are never not a question. The word of the day (the month, the year) is zesty. The previous word of the day was fluorescent. You are threading words into your stories like a trail of breadcrumbs, creating a meaningless map. You purposely fixate. You are playing games with nobody. You are playing games in hopes of being called out. You are calling yourself out. You wonder if this is a cry for attention — god, you desperately wish someone is paying attention. People like you when you’re funny. You don’t think you’re particularly funny, but sometimes you say something and people laugh. You are setting up punchlines. You are the punchline. Your writing is sad and you are funny; your writing is funny and you are sad. There is a joke in here somewhere, but damned if you can find it. Sometimes you feel like you’re a grand reflection machine, a box made of mirrors. You’re a Yayoi Kusama infinity room. You’re doing your best to give everyone what you want to give them, which is sometimes what you think they want. You are a control freak. You cannot stand being anyone but yourself. God, you wish you were anyone but yourself. Your father is always early and your mother is always late. You have an impeccable sense of timing. You were born twenty years after desire due to the miracle of science — here is the petri dish. Here is the puncture of the egg with the needle — immaculate conception into the digital age, welcome to the marvelous world of computing. You can be anything you want as long as you get a graduate degree. This is the decree set down by your parents. You can be anything you want as long as people love you. This is the decree set down by society. You wish you’d been a scientist. You wish you loved science. Everything you love is never going to make you any money and you wish this didn’t bother you. You dream of pseudonyms. One day you’ll pack all your weirdness away. You fantasize about that moment: here is the sanding of your edges. The obsolescence of your strange vernacular, the loss of the way you do not smile properly — you had to practice as a child. You don’t tell people about that. You couldn’t figure out how to fake emotion. Here you are, good at faking emotion. Here you are, good at oral sex. Here you are, not talking about oral sex in public. Here are your dreams in a box, vintage nostalgia — remember when I used to want to be an artist? You daydream about yourself in a beautifully cut suit, but your real dreams are: you are running from nothing. Here you are as a death-seeker. Here you are slicing your fingers from your palm and watching the red blood flow. You have color in your dreams, but no sound, no physical pain. You would like to cut away everything original about yourself. You wish you could trade obsession for enthusiasm. You’ve been dreaming of a lack of want since you have known what it is to want. You are proof of the observer effect. Everything changes after being seen. It’s a crime to let a writer into your life — they are going to plagiarize you for their stories. They are already cannibalizing themselves. She’s already laid out her psyche like a pinned bug — what else could she take? There she is: five foot three and a bit more with her boots on. There she is with her practiced smile and practiced emotions. It unnerves her that it doesn’t unnerve her that she can turn them off. She reads books about sociopaths. She is not a sociopath. She wishes she was — she would like to be charming. She is you, is decoded into text, and if you thought it would make any more sense in black and white and third person all over — well, it doesn’t. She thinks of herself in the first person plural. We don’t really like writing. We dream about giving it up. We know you are never going to stop. Art feels inevitable, like the rest of your life feels inevitable, a life sentence looming over you, a temporal guillotine resting on the gentle slope of your neck. You are aware that you are a cliche. The world has had its fill of tortured artists.: I am an affectation.
TESTIMONIALS "Made me cry multiple times" — at least 5 strangers on Tumblr "Extremely attractive" — everyone I've dated "My favorite daughter" — June Kim* *I am her only child "V. sardonic" — Kayla Romberger "ISABEL WHAT DID YOU DO??!!" — Emily Temple-Wood B.Sc., NREMTB, OMS2, BSL-2 "Completely disregards punctuation" — Claudia Li "The one shining beacon of existential horror in the darkness" — Isabel Kim
hi my name is isabel and i am a recovering visual artist in philly, also i write fiction and make zesty funtime textgames just kidding they're mostly existentially horrifying.

UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA                                                               May 2018

The College of Arts and Sciences, B.A. in English and Fine Arts (Honors)                                             Cumulative GPA: 3.79 / 4.00

LSAT: 173 SAT: 2350 | 770 Math, 790 Reading, 790 Writing

Honors: Dean’s List (2014-2017) | PubCo Best Illustration Award 2017 | Phi Kappa Sigma Fiction Prize 2nd place, Gibson Peacock Prize for Creative Nonfiction, 3rd place




TOMOCUBE INC. (Biotechnology start-up, focus on cutting-edge microscopy)     June 2017-August 2017

Marketing & Social Media Intern        Daejeon, South Korea

Developed and led public relations and marketing strategy for Silicon Valley investor pitches resulting in meetings regarding investments into the startup, as well as new marketing materials for their product launch

Collaborated with executive team to write promotional articles and manuals for new product launch

Wrote social media copy Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter increasing brand awareness and online engagement



Legal Intern           Daejeon, South Korea

Edited and translated legal texts pertaining to latest trends and developments in international technology IP / copyright / patent law for analysis and excerpts to be submitted for publication in law journals in the next year

Translated and adapted concepts and non-intuitive organizational systems from Korean to English


VIACOM – NICKELODEON NETWORK                                                                                                                                   May 2016-August 2016

Content & Programming Intern                                                                                                                                       New York City, NY

Researched, designed, and pitched 30-second video clips for promotional purposes which launched on Nick Digital

Prepared editorial and video content for online publication to drive traffic to the Nickelodeon site and increase engagement

Scheduled online content for both desktop and devices to optimize engagement on the Nick Digital site and promote new IPs

Led real-time updates projects with specific TV broadcast events such as Kids’ Choice Sports

 click to download



STUDIO ALTF4                                    March 2017–Present


Founded screen-printing design company, for both creative/original design and artwork and commercial printing.

Donated partial proceeds to various charitable organizations including Planned Parenthood and Women Organized Against Rape


THE PENN REVIEW                August 2016— Dec 2017

Design Editor

Designed digital print layout and graphics for bi-annual editions and guided overall creative direction of publication

Managed graphic design and print layout activities of two junior design associates

Led organization as part of 5-member board which set annual strategy, funding, and promotion of publication


THE DAILY PENNSYLVANIAN                       January 2015–August 2017

Deputy New Editor, Opinion Editor

Managed and edited 23 columnists for online and print publication, guiding the type and quality of content published

Controlled and set strategic and journalistic direction for online and print opinion content to define publication’s core voice

Directed the 5-person Opinion Board in writing biweekly editorials which addressed and explained national and campus-oriented events to the campus community

Initiated the creation of new types of Opinion content, leading to the creation of opinion videos and illustrations

Opinion Columnist, Beat Reporter

Ideated and wrote biweekly news column and illustrated cultural and political cartoons

Edited news stories written by colleagues, researched, proposed, pitched, interviewed, and wrote more than 40 articles


 STIMULUS CHILDREN’S THEATRE            January 2015– May 2015

Webmaster and Set Designer

Owned website and social media presence working with 7-member board to communicate theatre vision for performances



Skills: R, JQuery, HTML, CSS, Javascript, Processing, Adobe Creative Suite (Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator), Microsoft Office Suite

Interests: Creative writing, illustrating and writing comics, making animations and text adventure games, reading speculative fiction