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The designer behind spectacular superhero scenes

‘Design should be realistic and make others believe in the world you created,’ says Steve Jung


The futuristic yet realistic portraits of the fictional world in the superhero films “The Avengers” and “Transformers” captured the eyes of millions of international viewers. Behind the spectacular scenes was Steve Jung, a Korean-American concept designer.

The Stark Tower and major scenes of the films made Jung a household name in the entertainment design field and raised awareness of entertainment design among both the Korean and global audiences.

“I think the realistic design that looks believable to others has been recognized by many,” said Jung in an email interview with The Korea Herald.
Concept designer Steve Jung
Concept designer Steve Jung

Jung will soon share his design philosophy and introduce the world of concept design at the Herald Design Forum organized by Herald Corp. from Sept. 19-21 in Seoul.

After graduating from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, in 2003, Jung has worked with major movie production companies such as Walt Disney Pictures, Marvel Enterprises, Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks SKG. His other works include “Thor,” “Battleship” and “Tron: Legacy.”

Jung attributed his success as a concept designer specializing in films, video games and animation to his ability to understand what his clients imagine and what they want to create. 
A character from “Thor” (Steve Jung)
A character from “Thor” (Steve Jung)

“It’s really tricky to realize all the details, but it requires for a concept designer to understand the visuals in the directors’ imagination and create a realistic picture,” said Jung.

Beyond design skills, Jung thinks perseverance and self-development are key strengths that helped him ― as well as other Asian designers such as “Kung Fu Panda 2” director Jennifer Yuh Nelson, who is also Korean-American ― succeed in the Western film and design world.

Jung is also proud to see more Korean actors starring in Hollywood films and finds it encouraging.

“I am so happy to see more Koreans (such as actor Lee Byung-hun and director Park Chan-wook) working in Hollywood. I think Hollywood is beginning to appreciate their abilities,” said Jung.

Regarding the trend of a growing number of Koreans entering the foreign film market, Jung believes that Korea’s aesthetic has the potential to appeal to an international audience.

“Koreans have this considerably sophisticated taste in design. I think they know what creates harmony. Personally, I like the balance and soft lines that can be observed in the ancient Korean art,” Jung said.

But he thinks in order for more Korean films to enter the global market, they should have more stories that can appeal to the wider international audience.

“The Hollywood films have interesting stories and visuals that appeal to more people internationally. And I think Korean films should have visuals and storytelling that not only Koreans but also foreign audiences can find interesting,” said Jung.

By Lee Woo-young  (wylee@heraldcorp.com)
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