Sunset Artist Draws Praise as an ‘Illustrator of the Future’

By Judith Kahn

Sunset District resident Christine Rhee was one of the three second-quarter winners to be presented with the L. Ron Hubbard Illustrators of the Future (IOTF) award presented by Galaxy Press in July, 2018. The contest was established in 1988 and is open to amateurs who have not previously published more than three black and white story illustrations or more than one process color printing in nationally distributed media. 

Entrants in the contest submit a portfolio of three pieces of artwork. After completion of the contest, each of the 12 illustration winners are assigned a story from one of the dozen winners of the Writers of the Future (WOTF) and are given a month to submit their finished illustration. 


Christine Rhee shows off one of her works of art. Photos by Tyrone Bartoli.

Christine has submitted her illustration for the Gold Award. Judging is based on standard artistic considerations: composition, draftsmanship, lighting consistency, sense of wonder and facial expressions. The key consideration is whether the art would make the viewer want to read the accompanying story. Many of the judges are noted artists and writers who  have previously won the IOTF and WOTF awards. The winner, who is announced at the weeklong writers’ and artists’ workshops and awards gala in April, is presented with the Gold Award and a $5,000 prize.

A year and a half ago, Rhee moved with her husband from Mountain View to the Sunset. They are brand new parents with their first child being born in January. 

Beside illustrating, Rhee enjoys reading productivity books, i.e., books that deal with subjects like having the right mind set and how to perform at one’s highest level. Her favorite movies to watch are historical dramas, comedies and films that deal with super heroes. She likes walking, particularly on the beach, which is why she and her husband chose to live in the Sunset.


Rhee and her family moved to California from South Korea when she was 6 years old. She lived in different parts of Southern California and came to the Bay Area to attend UC Berkeley. It was in her third year of college when she discovered art. After receiving her Bachelor of Science degree in molecular and cell biology with an emphasis in immunology, she decided to enroll at San Jose State University for a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in animation and illustration. After a few years of freelance work and bioresearch, Rhee decided to do illustration and gallery work. Through Smarter Art School and the illustration master lass workshops, she met mentors who inspired her to become an illustrator.

Rhee enjoys exploring themes that are emotional and Korean myths that are intense. In her work, subject matters are frequently about people in the moment of transformation. Her focus is often on conceptual interpretations where people are bold and take chances versus straight narrative or storytelling compositions. Korean foundational myths take fantastical turns where bears become women, foxes become humans and people are born out of eggs. Through her work, Rhee hopes people become more aware of and enjoy Korean myths.

Graphite drawing is the foundation of Rhee’s illustrations. She scans the graphite drawing and colors it digitally in Photoshop. This process makes it easier for her to make any necessary changes based on the art director’s feedback. She usually finishes her work with traditional paint, such as acrylic gouache.  

Future plans for Rhee are to actively pursue illustration work, expand her personal work and seek additional gallery opportunities. Her goals are to reach out to her audience at conventions and via social media, including Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and, eventually, Patreon. Her dream illustration clients include Tor,, Penguin, Random House, The Criterion Collection and Folio Society. Rhee enjoys her passion and plans to go full speed ahead as she further explores the world of illustration.

To find out more about Christine Rhee, visit her website at

SB 3-19 Christine Rhee - The Sea (150 dpi) square

Artwork by Christine Rhee.

Categories: Art

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