CREATIVE SPOTLIGHT: NUA, the artist behind the artwork for SUHO’s “Self-Portrait”

By: Merlyn Maldonado
Art Self-Portrait Nua SUHO

Artwork for the film The Secret Garden, the album illustrations for EXO’s  SUHO’s mini-album Self-Portrait and collaborations with Korea’s TOPTEN10 and Lomography Cameras, are just some of the projects Park Song E has been keeping busy with since 2020. Situated in Seoul, Republic of Korea, Park Song E, better known under the pseudonym Nua, is recognized for her vivid and colorful art that is reminiscent of the impressionist art movement, but with a contemporary twist. In this exclusive interview, EnVi learns about Nua’s creative process, life philosophy, and insight on some of her projects including the art for SUHO’s Self-Portrait.

NUA x Creative Process

“With a cup of my favorite drink, a desk and a chair to draw on, all preparations are complete,” says Nua when asked about how she usually gets started on a piece. Rather than reflecting arrogance on her artistic skills to complete a new piece, for Nua getting started is a simple process because the act of creating does not have to be perfect. “You should not be compelled to create high-quality works,” explains Nua. “This painting only needs to stand in front of a blank sheet with a comfortable mind that only I can see.”

Nua’s simple process to getting started, also extends to where she finds inspiration from to create art. “Beautiful people around me and books with great writings motivate me,” says Nua. “I find something to draw from my friend’s unintentional words, I also find reasons to create from books I read by chance.” Nua explains it was actually through the habitual use of books and people as muses, when she realized you do not need something grand to be inspired, but that the world is already beautiful if you pay attention. “Even if you don’t go to the exhibition hall or watch a musical, I just want to say that you can feel these things even in your small daily life.”

Image courtesy of Nua 

Image courtesy of Nua 

Nua’s carefree creative process and special attention to details from daily life are the perfect mix to transform the mundane into beautiful artworks. A quick scroll through Nua’s Instagram feed exemplifies her creative approach the best. Her feed is a digital museum full of portraits, objects, and scribbles––a haven where even a regular brush becomes a pretty color-pencil still-life. 

NUA on Colors and Emotions

Part of the charm seen in Nua’s oeuvre is that beyond the subject, her artworks are also heavily inspired by colors. “Of course, shape and description are important, but I think color is a factor that especially affects humans,” explains Nua. “So when I draw, I try to be particularly delicate in choosing colors.” 

Nua’s fascination with colors and the effects they can have on art and the viewers is the most apparent in her approach to the subject she finds most interesting creating portraits. “Various emotions are hidden in human features, so you can express many things when you draw them,” says Nua. “Reinterpreting and coloring faces in a different color that the existing face does not have, gives me a certain sense of freedom.” 


Image courtesy of Nua

Image courtesy of Nua

Image courtesy of Nua 

Nua’s methodical use of colors in her artworks is in part due to the similarities she draws between colors and emotions. Due to their versatility and range, colors become a tool with the capacity to fully embrace and express the diverse emotions humans feel. “I hope people will be able to realize how various colors gather and convey their feelings while looking at my paintings,” expresses Nua. “I want people to have the courage to be more bold in using colors. I hope you don’t hesitate to express all of those things fully.” 

Nua x SUHO’s Self-Portrait 

Nua’s partial goal to convey emotions through colors in her artworks found a home in none other than SM Entertainment. Nua was first contacted by SM Entertainment back on [confirming date]. “They said that my drawing style that resembles Vincent Van Gogh’s would be perfect for SUHO’s album cover,” says Nua. She then embarked on the task of completing the artwork for SUHO’s first mini-album Self-Portrait.

Since the major theme of the album was the idea of “Self-Portrait,” Nua explains it was rather easy to choose a concept for the album’s cover. Additionally, since it was also suggested Vincent Van Gogh’s work should come to mind in the artwork’s background, Nua was set on creating something of that caliber. “I wanted the cover of the album to look like a work hanging in the museum, just like stopping by a museum and looking at a painting,” explains Nua. “So a total of four different portraits were framed in one place.”  

Nua’s sentiment of creating museum worthy artworks for the album was also heavily inspired by non-other than EXO’s fans, EXO-L’s. “I wanted to give fans an experience that this album art is not just a cover work, but as if they were purchasing a piece of art,” says Nua. “I drew it with a heart of wanting to present an artwork to all the fans who love SUHO.”

With these guidelines in mind, Nua leaned on her artistic style and combined it with inspiration from Van Gogh’s self-portraits and landscape paintings to complete the Self-Portrait’s artwork. “I reinterpreted The Starry Night’s brush touch and color,” says Nua. “Above all, I was really happy with this whole process because I have really liked Vincent for a long time.”

On March 30 2020, SUHO impressed fans and new listeners with the release of Self-Portrait, a record totaling six ballad-style songs. According to SM Entertainment, the record compares SUHO’s experiences to universal love stories that anyone can easily relate to. The striking sentimentality of Self-Portrait was matched with equally outstanding artwork by Nua. 


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SUHO’s album cover for Self-Portrait is composed of four-panels, each panel a portrait of SUHO’s bust in different poses. Inspired by the impressionist art movement, the artwork is a mix-up of colors and textures. The color palette includes aquas, blues, pinks, yellows, black and minimal touches of green and purple. Nua made it strictly with color pencils to ensure the artwork would have a strong texture that would resemble the impressionist art movement. SUHO’s portraits are made of small color-blocked patches. Similarly, the backgrounds are composed of different size and shape color pencil streaks and splotches. Though there is a disorderly nature to the technique used, the portraits come together in a dreamy and ethereal fashion.

Now that it has been over a year since the mini-album was released, NUA reflects back on her experience working on Self-Portrait as a meaningful time that continues to inspire her to this day. This positive recollection is not only attributed to the process, but also to EXO-L’s response to the artwork upon it being released. “Thanks to the love of many EXO fans for my paintings, it remains a meaningful memory,” says NUA. “The memory of drawing four different faces of SUHO has been a strong inspiration to me since then. It gave me the strength to continue creating. It felt like the area of work I’ve always been doing was expanding indefinitely.” 

“Nothing But, You” & Time to Draw You

Since the release of Self-Portrait, NUA has continued creating and growing her oeuvre.  Nua’s caring nature and concern with bringing out the beauty of daily life and embracing your emotions has taken form in projects that make this sentiment accessible to the public.

Back in September, Nua released a self-inspiring kit titled  “Nothing But, You,” with the tagline: “It’s not about the happiness of meeting someone or stopping by somewhere. I wish you only need you for happiness. This is a self-inspiring kit that helps you be happy on your own.”


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Nua was inspired from the different hardships Covid-19 brought to people. “I thought it would be nice to create something that helps me be happy without meeting anyone,” says Nua. “I started drawing with the desire to say, ‘That’s enough, buddy. Now I only think about you. Your happiness is the most important thing.’ That’s how an Inspiring Kit with the concept of decorating and recording each space was born.”

The self-help kit–– which had different personalized props with Nua’s artistic touch, including a notepad, shirts, and even a multi-purpose fabric––garnered attention and was welcomed warmly by Nua’s followers on Instagram. “Thankfully, many people liked my inspiring-kit,” says Nua. “People told me ‘thank you for making pretty interior props.’ In fact, I’m the one who should be grateful, but I was really touched to hear that from people. I think my desire for people’s complete happiness was well conveyed to them.”

Though “Nothing But, You” was a limited edition kit. Nua continues her journey into inspiring people through her art. Most recently that has taken form in the publishing of her first book, Time to Draw You. “This book is a kind practical book that points out the entire process of getting inspiration to draw and completing a portrait,” says Nua. “It also contains my philosophy and life, so you can read it like an essay.”

If you would like to check out more of Nua’s artwork and keep up with her on her artistic journey, you can follow her on Instagram or check out her Website.

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