SHINI PARK

On redefining success

6G4A9979.jpg

Born in Seoul, raised in Warsaw and now based between London and Copenhagen, Shini Park is the founding director of multidisciplinary digital atelier CUBE and storytelling platform and bi-annual hardcover book series, CUBICLE. Graduating from Central Saint Martins, Park has worked as a creative director, photographer, consultant and ambassador for brands including Breitling, Bentley Motors, Ferragamo, PRADA and Tiffany’s & Co.

JUMP TO TOPIC

ON CAREER - THE JOURNEY 

Dorcas:

You started Park & Cube, a fashion and lifestyle blog in 2008 while in your second year  of university. Today, you are a well-respected designer and photographer, a global  influencer, founder and EIC of CUBICLE - how did you navigate your career to this point  and what’s the journey been like?

 

Shini:

Funnily, ‘journey’ is maybe the most apt term to describe my last ten (or so) years! It really did  feel like an expedition without a precise destination, a lot of things happened along the way  and much of the direction decided either on a whim or with gut instinct. I had no idea that I’d  be where I am when I started a personal blog in 2008, much less planned for it! What I do love  about the journey is that I wouldn’t change a single thing about it - every new addition and  direction came from natural progression: I opened a blog and practised a whole lot of  storytelling and photography, then started offering photography as a freelance service to  brands, which then developed into a bigger product with graphic design and art direction  involved… this helped me open up the CUBE collective agency. Along the way I met a lot of  amazing people and friends became family that ultimately formed the core team of CUBICLE. 

Dorcas:

What have been some pivotal moments, milestones, and lessons?

 

Shini:

I’m indebted to a lot of brands that have given me wings from a very early stage in my career.  My first press trip was with CHANEL in 2009, first designer gifting from Bottega Veneta,  recurring client work with Bally, and then Ferragamo… In the end it was mostly friendships  that blossomed into enjoyable work settings and we had fun all the while. CUBICLE was a big  milestone - being able to hold a physical manifestation of 10 years in your hands, and also  putting something ‘new’ and fresh out there. If I learned any lessons, it’d be ‘make friends’, be  kinder, be humble. There’s a lot of money and fame (albeit on a micro-level) involved in this  industry and it’s important to check oneself often. 

 

6G4A9884.jpg
6G4A6337.jpg
 

MEANING OF SUCCESS

Dorcas:

What does success mean to you? How did you go about defining it for yourself?

 

Shini:

I believe success is something that’s not visible to others, but something you can feel yourself.  Having lots of money or material goods do not determine success for me, but doing  something you love without any hindrance, and explore new avenues and be able to sustain/ encourage/excite others means you’ve reached a level of success. At the end of the day,  success is about comfort, isn’t it? Every year I think I ‘waver’ in the success-o-meter, when it  comes to how comfortable I am in the consuming vs. creating balance. 

Dorcas:

Being a creative and given the various platforms we can share on / produce for, how do  you handle the pressure to constantly be creating? Is it the same as wanting to stay  consistent? Or does it matter?

 

Shini:

I constantly need to remind myself that it’s important to understand what each platform does  and how it feeds into your ‘success’, then tailoring your energy and output accordingly.  Consistency definitely is everything but so is planning a sustainable plan of action that allows  for enough time to create appropriate content per platform. I’ve noticed that I’m not really into  ‘new’, faddy platforms where the currency is not high-end visuals - but I don’t mind indulging  in my personal time. 

Dorcas:

How do you go about choosing the projects you work on/ or brands you partner with?  How do you stay authentic through this process to ensure staying true to your work  value, and telling narratives that are important to you? 

 

Shini:

I always make sure the projects/brands align with our own ethos as well as visual branding.  Authenticity is a big issue and challenge in the industry, and I find that it’s all-round better in  the long-run to be working with a brand that respects your vision more than the numbers. If in  doubt, we ask for the primary objective and if ‘high sales’ get mentioned, that’s not a project  for us.

Dorcas:

What’s your approach in this era of social media where the value of one’s creative work  is determined/perceived through social engagement in the form of likes and comments?  Also, how do you balance the desire of wanting to use these platforms and the metrics  they provide as a gauge of knowing what’s exciting or resonating with your audience?

Shini:

Naturally I dislike adding numbers to value, the same way you cannot attach price to a  subjective piece of artwork. Of course, when it comes to social media there is a fine balance  of art vs. service so value can be calculated, but it’s a daily struggle. Finding a balance is  important, and I think - looking at it from a glass half full perspective - it’s fine to show this  balance (when it comes to IG you simply mix commercial and non-commercial) since it’s your  own damn account. I personally think it’s important to have your own platform altogether  where you can do anything you want. Think of it like living in an apartment building vs. Owning  a house and the pros & cons of both.

 

 
6G4A6590.jpg

"I believe success is something that’s not visible to others, but something you can feel yourself."

 

ON CREATING A PERSONAL RHYTHM

Dorcas:

How do you create a rhythm for work and find your own pace in a generation obsessed  with instant gratification and fast success?

 

Shini:

If I’m entirely honest with myself it’s still something I struggle with - since I’m invested in  everything I do emotionally, a lot of it does bleed into my personal life as well. I get depressed  when a post doesn’t perform well, when brands are only after numbers, and when I find myself  comparing beauty ideals to other girls. I rely on my husband for this, who is VERY unplugged -  he’s my anchor from the ‘castle in the sky’ life that is social media. 

Dorcas:

You have one of the most distinct voices in the digital creative space. Where does that  come from, and what does your creative process involve?

Shini:

I think I just have an advantage of having been in the space for a long time so I’ve learned to  filter out and care less about certain trends that make the ‘mass’. I’ve gone through the five  stages (Merge, Doubt and Denial, Disillusionment, the Decision, and Wholehearted Love) of  relationship with digital/social media I suppose, although I’m still wavering between Doubt and  the Decision stage! My creative process quite purposefully cuts out looking at social media  altogether, with CUBICLE it’s been easier to bury my head into works of masters of visual arts  and be inspired by them instead of what’s out there. 

 

DIGITAL SPACE AND WHAT'S TO COME

Dorcas:

How do you see the digital space changing going forward?

 

Shini:

I do predict there will be more connectivity and a flurry of new technical ‘convenience’ when it  comes to creating content (i.e Reels on IG/TikTok introducing rudimentary video editing  techniques, or apps that can easily create cinemagraphs - this used to take hours on  Photoshop usually…etc). This does mean more digital ‘noise’, so it might be an advantage for  creatives looking to use these new techniques to manifest their vision to be noticed more.

Dorcas:

What can we expect to see from you and CUBICLE in the near future?

 

Shini:

The ‘future’ seems a bit of an abstract thought mid-pandemic, but I hope to get back to a  ‘comfort’ stage, and push for storytelling that happens in a 360° way - photography, cinema,  interactive media, print, community…etc.

CUBICLE-SergeLutens-22.jpg
6G4A6589.jpg

ON CAREER - THE JOURNEY

Dorcas:

You started Park & Cube, a fashion and lifestyle blog in 2008 while in your second year  of university. Today, you are a well-respected designer and photographer, a global  influencer, founder and EIC of CUBICLE - how did you navigate your career to this point  and what’s the journey been like?

 

Shini:

Funnily, ‘journey’ is maybe the most apt term to describe my last ten (or so) years! It really did  feel like an expedition without a precise destination, a lot of things happened along the way  and much of the direction decided either on a whim or with gut instinct. I had no idea that I’d  be where I am when I started a personal blog in 2008, much less planned for it! What I do love  about the journey is that I wouldn’t change a single thing about it - every new addition and  direction came from natural progression: I opened a blog and practised a whole lot of  storytelling and photography, then started offering photography as a freelance service to  brands, which then developed into a bigger product with graphic design and art direction  involved… this helped me open up the CUBE collective agency. Along the way I met a lot of  amazing people and friends became family that ultimately formed the core team of CUBICLE.

Dorcas:

What have been some pivotal moments, milestones, and lessons?

 

Shini:

I’m indebted to a lot of brands that have given me wings from a very early stage in my career.  My first press trip was with CHANEL in 2009, first designer gifting from Bottega Veneta,  recurring client work with Bally, and then Ferragamo… In the end it was mostly friendships  that blossomed into enjoyable work settings and we had fun all the while. CUBICLE was a big  milestone - being able to hold a physical manifestation of 10 years in your hands, and also  putting something ‘new’ and fresh out there. If I learned any lessons, it’d be ‘make friends’, be  kinder, be humble. There’s a lot of money and fame (albeit on a micro-level) involved in this  industry and it’s important to check oneself often. 

6G4A9884.jpg
6G4A6337.jpg

MEANING OF SUCCESS

Dorcas:

What does success mean to you? How did you go about defining it for yourself?

 

Shini:

I believe success is something that’s not visible to others, but something you can feel yourself.  Having lots of money or material goods do not determine success for me, but doing  something you love without any hindrance, and explore new avenues and be able to sustain/ encourage/excite others means you’ve reached a level of success. At the end of the day,  success is about comfort, isn’t it? Every year I think I ‘waver’ in the success-o-meter, when it  comes to how comfortable I am in the consuming vs. creating balance. 

Dorcas:

Being a creative and given the various platforms we can share on / produce for, how do  you handle the pressure to constantly be creating? Is it the same as wanting to stay  consistent? Or does it matter?

 

Shini:

I constantly need to remind myself that it’s important to understand what each platform does  and how it feeds into your ‘success’, then tailoring your energy and output accordingly.  Consistency definitely is everything but so is planning a sustainable plan of action that allows  for enough time to create appropriate content per platform. I’ve noticed that I’m not really into  ‘new’, faddy platforms where the currency is not high-end visuals - but I don’t mind indulging  in my personal time. 

Dorcas:

How do you go about choosing the projects you work on/ or brands you partner with?  How do you stay authentic through this process to ensure staying true to your work  value, and telling narratives that are important to you? 

 

Shini:

I always make sure the projects/brands align with our own ethos as well as visual branding.  Authenticity is a big issue and challenge in the industry, and I find that it’s all-round better in  the long-run to be working with a brand that respects your vision more than the numbers. If in  doubt, we ask for the primary objective and if ‘high sales’ get mentioned, that’s not a project  for us.

Dorcas:

What’s your approach in this era of social media where the value of one’s creative work  is determined/perceived through social engagement in the form of likes and comments?  Also, how do you balance the desire of wanting to use these platforms and the metrics  they provide as a gauge of knowing what’s exciting or resonating with your audience?

Shini:

Naturally I dislike adding numbers to value, the same way you cannot attach price to a  subjective piece of artwork. Of course, when it comes to social media there is a fine balance  of art vs. service so value can be calculated, but it’s a daily struggle. Finding a balance is  important, and I think - looking at it from a glass half full perspective - it’s fine to show this  balance (when it comes to IG you simply mix commercial and non-commercial) since it’s your  own damn account. I personally think it’s important to have your own platform altogether  where you can do anything you want. Think of it like living in an apartment building vs. Owning  a house and the pros & cons of both.

"I believe success is something that’s not visible to others, but something you can feel yourself."

6G4A6590.jpg

ON CREATING A PERSONAL RHYTHM

Dorcas:

How do you create a rhythm for work and find your own pace in a generation obsessed  with instant gratification and fast success?

 

Shini:

If I’m entirely honest with myself it’s still something I struggle with - since I’m invested in  everything I do emotionally, a lot of it does bleed into my personal life as well. I get depressed  when a post doesn’t perform well, when brands are only after numbers, and when I find myself  comparing beauty ideals to other girls. I rely on my husband for this, who is VERY unplugged -  he’s my anchor from the ‘castle in the sky’ life that is social media. 

Dorcas:

You have one of the most distinct voices in the digital creative space. Where does that  come from, and what does your creative process involve?

Shini:

I think I just have an advantage of having been in the space for a long time so I’ve learned to  filter out and care less about certain trends that make the ‘mass’. I’ve gone through the five  stages (Merge, Doubt and Denial, Disillusionment, the Decision, and Wholehearted Love) of  relationship with digital/social media I suppose, although I’m still wavering between Doubt and  the Decision stage! My creative process quite purposefully cuts out looking at social media  altogether, with CUBICLE it’s been easier to bury my head into works of masters of visual arts  and be inspired by them instead of what’s out there. 

CUBICLE-SergeLutens-22.jpg

DIGITAL SPACE & WHAT'S TO COME

Dorcas:

How do you see the digital space changing going forward?

 

Shini:

I do predict there will be more connectivity and a flurry of new technical ‘convenience’ when it  comes to creating content (i.e Reels on IG/TikTok introducing rudimentary video editing  techniques, or apps that can easily create cinemagraphs - this used to take hours on  Photoshop usually…etc). This does mean more digital ‘noise’, so it might be an advantage for  creatives looking to use these new techniques to manifest their vision to be noticed more.

Dorcas:

What can we expect to see from you and CUBICLE in the near future?

Shini:

The ‘future’ seems a bit of an abstract thought mid-pandemic, but I hope to get back to a  ‘comfort’ stage, and push for storytelling that happens in a 360° way - photography, cinema,  interactive media, print, community…etc.

6G4A6589.jpg