Danbee (Deb) Kim is a Chicago-based artist who supports social justice movements and organizations through visual storytelling and design. Originally on the path to become a social worker, Kim now focuses full-time on centering art in movement building. Getting involved in local art communities in Chicago as an adult helped her to reconnect with a creativity she’d practiced since childhood.
Kim is currently a member of For the People (FTP), a collective of Chicago artists of color who use their work to amplify social justice movements. She resists the idea of art as an afterthought. “Art is so crucial because we need imagination to build what we want for the world we want to live in, the world we are fighting for,” she said. “Imagination allows us to think of alternative systems, processes, and ways of being that the current status quo is not doing and actually hinder[s] human flourishing.”
Kim specializes in visual design, custom illustration, and comics journalism for a variety of campaigns tackling issues such as police violence and mass criminalization. A majority of her current work centers racial and economic justice in Chicago. Most recently, Kim created illustrations for the #ReimagineChicago campaign, a movement formed in 2018 in response to gentrification and displacement in the city. The campaign continues to “reimagine what safety, healthy communities, revenue, economy, and neighborhood investment look [like] for our city as opposed to the narrative that funding police increases safety or gentrification is a byproduct of prosperity.”
This summer, Kim is launching a creative story-making studio to support “values-based organizations and businesses amplify their work through visual storytelling.” She notes that although her path as an artist sometimes feels vulnerable, “it has also been an incredibly enriching, meaningful journey that has brought me so much joy.”
Follow her work on Instagram @by.danbee.