Jinho, who came to a cafe first, kept looking around and checking his watch.
Although there was still time until the meeting time, pointless worries appeared and complicated Jinho’s thoughts.
‘It can’t be a fraud, right?’
The biggest worry was obviously about the contest’s results.
However he looked at it, they contacted him too quickly.
Since he submitted the picture on the last day, he thought it might be reasonable, but on the other hand, he felt uneasy because everything went too well.
Holding the cheapest regular coffee from the menu in two hands, as Jinho took a sip, he saw someone entering the cafe.
A tall and blond white man. He was an american guy who’s burgundy suit and black shoes suited him well. The man who looked at most mid twenties came inside the cafe and took out his phone.
Simultaneously, Jinho’s phone vibrated on the table.
The blond young man turned to the table that was vibrating, and seeing Jinho sitting there, smiled and walked toward him.
“Mr. Lee Jinho?”
The young man, Alex, politely reached his right hand to Jinho and smiled.
It was a charismatic smile anyone would fall for.
“I’m New York Navigation’s head designer, Alex. It’s great to meet you.”
“Hello. I’m Lee Jinho.”
Looking at Jinho who finished his introduction simpler than him, Alex sat down. Once he put his briefcase on the table, Alex’s turned to look directly at Jinho.
As he carefully took out the files, with a confused look, Alex asked Jinho.
“Is the name you used when you submitted the cover perhaps your real name?”
“Ah, I see. I thought it might’ve been an well known illustrator using a pseudonym because the picture’s impressions and expressions were too good.”
At Alex’s praise, Jinho’s face turned slightly red.
Watching Jinho as he scratched his nose, Alex continued to ask.
“But, may I ask why you sent only one picture and not four? Of course, just that one picture was enough to move our company, so there won’t be any changes to the fact that we’ll be picking your work, but…”
Alex paused as he searched Jinho’s face.
Since this was something he definitely needed to know, Alex asked directly.
Matching Alex’s eyes, Jinho answered with a calm face.
“I’m not too sure, but the concepts after the spring didn’t seemed to be decided. It’s not right to just draw the covers that hasn’t been decided, right?”
‘I was running out of time too.’
Leaving out the last part, Jinho closed his eyes as he lightly sipped the coffee that was slowly becoming cold. It was an act to cover up his thoughts, but to Alex’s eyes, it looked as if Jinho was full of leisure.
‘As expected’, muttered Alex, and like when he first saw Jinho, Alex brightly smiled and continued to talk.
“That’s good enough for an explanation. You were a thoughtful person as I thought. Then, should we briefly go over the contract and go?”
When Alex took out a heavy bundle of paper from the briefcase, Jinho could easily tell that it was related to the contract.
Jinho, whose only contract he signed had been when he was getting his house, trembled from nervousness.
Seeing this, Alex softly smiled.
“You don’t have to be that worried. There isn’t any complicated parts, and because it uses the regular format most businesses use, it should be familiar to you.”
The company itself wasn’t big. Because it has always used simplified contract to make deals, Alex said so to calm Jinho, but Jinho’s response was out of Alex’s expectations.
“No, this is actually the first for me.”
“Of course, I did submitted artworks to contests before, but winning, or prize money, it’s really the first. To be honest, I actually thought it was a fraud until you came.”
There was no lie in Jinho’s face as he truthfully replied, and Alex who was facing him knew it well. Feeling that things were proceeding rather strangely, Alex casually asked as he opened the contract.
“Then, if it’s not to big of a trouble, may I ask which art college you graduated from?”
“Ah, of course. Though… I still haven’t went to any art college yet.”
“… you haven’t been to an art college?”
Hearing Jinho’s response, Alex’s expression turned dumbfounded. Seeing that there was something wrong with Alex’s change in expression, Jinho nervously opened his mouth.
“Is that perhaps a problem?”
“Ah, no. It was an open contest, so that’s not a problem at all.”
Alex, who at first showed his shock, quickly composed himself. Brushing away his cheeks that turned red from shamefully revealing his shock, Alex politely smiled again.
“I seemed to have forgot that there’s no proper path in arts. Please excuse me. Then, should we continue to talk about the contract?”
“Is it really okay?”
At Jinho who asked again, Alex nodded with a confident look in his eyes.
“Of course. It was the cover that I personally picked out. At this point, I’m not looking at anything else. The cover fits our concept really well too.”
“If you really say so…”
“Ah ah, the artist of the artwork should have more confidence.”
Alex cut in and said as he leaned forward on the table. Because the distance between the two became closer, Jinho could see Alex’s eyes clearly.
“I guarantee it. With the cover Mr. Jinho drew and our magazine, we will definitely create a good synergy and go big starting next year. And right now, this contract will be that starting point.”
In his blue eyes, there was certainty.
Closing the door and coming in, Jinho first headed to his bed.
Simply taking off his coat and after hanging it on a chair, Jinho fell down on his bed and soon turned around to looked at the ceiling.
After staring emptily at the ceiling for a while, Jinho held up the contract in his hands.
Complicatedly written contents in the paragraphs. Flipping through the countless number of pages in the contract, Jinho opened the last page and stopped his hands. And then, he carefully read the words written there.
“… signed, Lee Jinho.”
At the end of the contract, it was signed Lee Jinho in his handwriting.
Jinho, who felt as if everything until now was like a dream, laughed.
Everything about this situation where his pictures are recognized by others, and wanted by others, felt like a dream that’ll disappear after a sleep.
The times when he was looked down on flashed through his head like a revolving lantern.
The people who told him that he had no talent, the people who told him to give up and search for another path. His friends who are already living a stable life.
Perhaps the reason Jinho came to the US was because he turn away from the outside world and his inner inferiority, and to run away.
Away from that feeling of inferiority when comparing himself to others, away from himself of that difficult past who, rather than seeing hope, couldn’t even raise his head against the despair that haunted him every day.
From the achievement he made with his own hands within those circumstances, Jinho couldn’t hide his happiness. And that happiness turned into tears that ran down.
“Ah… why am I crying?”
Jinho wiped his eyes with the back of his hand as he continued to cry and laugh.
Finally the first step.
Jinho, who finally took his first step in society at a late age, couldn’t get up from his bed as he kept wiping his tears from happiness.
The basement room that felt cold to the bones every day felt unbelievably warm that day.
He didn’t know what the tomorrow awaits, but at least for today he knew.
“They still haven’t contacted us?”
“Strange. Since the deadline was last week, they should be contacting the winner around today.”
Jeong Ujin, who ran the Manhattan Art Gallery, tilted his head.
In the director’s office, he and a student were having a conversation with gloomy faces.
Indicating that he understood, Ujin lightly shook his hand at the student.
“I’ll see about it, so go draw for now.”
Soon as the student left the office, Ujin put his hand on his phone.
‘There’s no way another work won… hm, it might be possible, but there’s no way a reputable illust will send a work to such a small contest.’
Ujin’s thoughts became complicated as he pressed the number.
The New York Navigation’s cover contest wasn’t very big. Since the prize wasn’t very big nor was the magazine’s fame solidified, it was obvious.
But there was still a reason why Ujin would send a student to submit a work into the contest.
‘It’s a company backed by the New York’s city hall. At least by next year, or perhaps the year after that, no one knows what’ll happen. Winning at such contest should make a pretty good line on the resume.’
Ujin smirked as he waited for the call to connect.
It could be a line in the student’s resume, but it was also a worthy achievement to be seen on the academy’s resume. Ujin didn’t want to let go of that good opportunity.
After a short ring tone, a woman answered his call.
[New York Navigation.]
“Yes, hello. I called because I wanted to ask some questions about the contest.”
“Are you perhaps still reviewing the artworks for the cover?”
[No. We already chose the winner.]
As Ujin asked back, the woman on the line calmly replied.
[We already chose the artwork for the cover. We have already finished signing the contract too. Did you perhaps not check our website? We updated it yesterday, so it should be up there.]
“Then please take care of me, ajussi.”
“Yes, yes. Just make sure to do the artworks well and bring them next time. Don’t forget to call ahead of time to reserve too.”
Energetically nodding to the photo studio’s owner, who saw off Jinho rather positively unlike the other day, Jinho walked straight out of the door.
Coming out of the studio, although his eyebrows naturally creased at the sunlight, Jinho stretched as he looked at the light.
Although the wind was cold, because the sun was bright out, it didn’t feel very cold.
“Good, that’s one done.”
Since there was no other studio cheaper than there, Jinho’s choice didn’t change.
His stomach hurt from seeing the record of exactly 1,100 dollars taken out from the bank on the phone, but it couldn’t be helped since it was a necessary investment.
As he comforted himself like so, Jinho sighed in peace.
‘It should at least be enough for next month’s living expense.’
The prize from the contest wasn’t very big.
Since it’ll all be used up after paying for the portfolio shooting today and next week’s living expenses, it wasn’t something Jinho could use luxuriously, but just enough to maintain through meticulous saving.
Truthfully, since he already knew of that before entering the contest, he had no complaints.
Though, there was a part in the contract that interested him.
“It said there will be additional reward based on sales.”
Selling each issue at eight dollars, he was promised to get six percent of the profit. This was the target of Jinho’s curiosity.
It was enough for him to spend the entire night imagining how much more he could get.
“So it’s forty eight cents every time one sells. If ten issues sell, four dollar eighty cents, forty eight dollars if hundred sell.” (t/n: in case you’re not familiar with US dollar, 100 cent = 1 dollar, and 1 US dollar = 361.9 Zimbabwe dollars in 2017)
Jinho tried to calculated how much the magazine had to sell before he earned billion dollars, but soon shook his head.
Nothing good ever came from being excessively greedy. Since Mr. Alex did told him before leaving that not a large sum would come in right away, Jinho decided to not pointlessly build up his anticipation.
And as he got on the subway with his sketchbook at his side, his phone rang inside his pocket.
< Miracle Drawing! 14. > End
Translator : CSV
Proofreader : Saquacon (PR)