Storyboard: Judy, Mindy & Ruthie Sunwoo

Family hat trick – a creative sisterhood

It’s not unusual for sisters who are close to share experiences and do things together. But, the Sunwoo Sisters wrote a new chapter in the history of ArtCenter. Mindy, Judy and Ruthie Sunwoo all graduated from ArtCenter at the same time. And no, they’re not triplets. It took thirteen years.

Mindy: Judy and I are fraternal twins. From an early age, we had our own playful creative rivalry.

Judy: Mindy and I arrived at ArtCenter when we were eighteen with zero expectations. It was 2005. We were looking for a “traditional” college experience. Suffice to say, we had no idea what we had signed up for. Ultimately, we pressed pause. Our first ArtCenter experience didn’t last.

Ruthie: Judy and Mindy came back ten years later. I had started ArtCenter in 2014 and was there for a year without my sisters. You could say the vibe at the College changed since they were there: things were youthful, more diverse. I felt at home. Still, when my sisters showed up, I felt like I could breathe again.

J: Growing up, our parents took notice of our creativity. Ruthie was into illustration. Mindy and I were into design.

M: I am beyond blessed to have a family that’s creative: my own kind of creative sisterhood.

R: The first time we heard about ArtCenter was through a friend of our mother’s.

M: Our mom had a best friend who was a professor at Otis. She urged us to check out ArtCenter.

R: Our mother was into fashion. She has what I call “the magic eye.” That definitely influenced us.

M: Our father is 100% business-minded. Needless to say, he remains perplexed by us. Fascinated might be a more polite word.

J: Our first day, in 2005, Mindy and I were the only ones in our class who were 18 – everyone else was 25 or older. That was when we realized we weren’t quite ready.

M: During our time away, we gained maturity and a sense of perspective. We knew what we wanted, and what we didn’t want. Sometimes, to bring your goals into sharper focus, you have to take a step away.

R: A lot of instructors were always curious about the difference in our styles. Judy’s great at drawing details. Mindy’s all about capturing the mood of a certain piece.

M: Twins by their very nature are similar but fundamentally different. I’m into composition, Judy’s into colors, and Ruthie is the one we all looked up to. I think she’s just in love with the creative process. Go ahead and ask her yourself if you don’t believe me.

R: I have no self-discipline. Honestly. I spend way too much time on the “idea” portion of the process. ArtCenter helped me to hone a kind of laser-like focus on the actual process of work… even if my professors seem to prefer my rough drafts.

J: The difference in our styles plays a huge part. When someone commissions us for an illustration, I can pinpoint which of my sisters would be best for the job. Ruthie can do typography. Mindy is all about being consumer-friendly. I practice a sophisticated style that’s geared more towards adults, while Mindy has honed a playful and charming aesthetic that’s more readymade for children.

M: If I have issues with color, I ask Judy. If I have questions about line work, I ask Ruthie. We pass it off to each other, like a basketball squad. It’s pure teamwork.

R: We have another sister who’s not creative at all. Ironically, despite the basketball metaphor, she’s literally the jock of the family.

J: At the end of the day, it all comes back to ArtCenter and the connections we’ve made there. It feels like its own kind of family.

M: When we were at a recent graduation, it was a joy to reconnect with all our old instructors and former classmates. You’re just not going to get a relationship that’s that close and personal from a UC school, in my opinion. The professors are earnest, compassionate, and they want you to excel. Deep down, they know what it’s all about: finding something you love and riding it until the wheels fall off.

Judy Sunwoo
BFA 18 Illustration

Mindy Sunwoo
BFA 18 Illustration

Ruthie Sunwoo
BFA 18 Illustration

Deep down, they know what it’s all about: finding something you love and riding it until the wheels fall off.

Mindy Sunwoo
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