XXY in Conversation With Illustrator and Artist, Joey Yu

XXY in Conversation With Illustrator and Artist, Joey Yu

Graduating from an illustration degree only a few months ago, artist Joey Yu already has her work featured in several exhibitions, as well as working with an impressive roster of clients such as Tate, Riposte Magazine and The New York Times. With her first solo show, “A Seoul Series”, seeing her live drawing and presenting her work at Art Space Daamdaa in Seoul, South Korea, it looks like she is set for success. I got in contact with her to discuss her work, her show and the reality of post-graduate life.

Ellie Connor-Phillips: When did you realise you wanted to be an artist?

Joey Yu: I’ve always wanted to do something creative. I was growing up spending most of my time in the back of my parent’s hairdressers, with just paper and pens to entertain myself. My supplies were limited but I could spend hours drawing.

EC: What would you say are the most common themes in your work?

JY: Although a lot of my work is very bright in colour, and can seem quite celebratory, I think in most pieces there’s an underlying tone of loneliness. I don’t do it intentionally, but the people I draw always seem to be thinking about something, or maybe I’m just projecting onto them! I guess in the very act of me reportage drawing, I’m taking myself out of the frame and becoming an outsider, looking in. Looking in seems to be a pervading theme.

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EC: I find your work to be quite emotive and atmospheric – the light you capture sort of transports the viewer into the work’s setting. What is it that makes you inspired to draw a place? What catches your eye?

JY: There’s no particular setting that I’m drawn to, but if I can see an interesting angle, colour palette or story that I can make out of an ordinary environment, I guess that’s when I’ll sit down and take out my pencils.

EC: Not many artists have solo shows this soon after graduating. Are you excited about what the future holds? Is there anything in particular you’d like to achieve with your work?

JY: I’m incredibly excited. In terms of achievements, in very very practical terms- I would just like to make a good sustained living out of my work, and be able to continue doing what I love forever. In very very fun terms, I’d like to produce a book somehow, with my drawings in them.
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EC: Has post-graduation life been difficult? A lot of people find themselves feeling a bit lost without the structure of university – did you experience anything like this, and if so how did you cope?

JY: I did feel a little lost, but at uni I made sure I always had some side projects going on- so when I left, I still had these to look towards and continue doing and keeping up the momentum.  Enjoy education, but always be thinking of plan B, C, D. Be a good multitasker, be proactive, but also learn to deal with rejection. And if you love it, and honestly, I truly do love it, things start to work out.

Written by Ellie Connor-Phillips

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