Joey Yu Studio Tour
Date: 9th April 2018
Photography by: James Rees
Hi Joey! How would you describe your style?
Very emotionally driven, very sentimental!
How did you get into illustration?
I've been drawing since I was small, but it was probably my art foundation course that steered me in this direction. It was this or the fashion pathway (and I don't regret!).
How do you like to work? What’s your creative process like?
Sometimes the most interesting and reactive stuff comes out when working under tight schedules, or spontaneous work. I try to do as little preparation drawing as possible so the final image can have the most natural, expressive mark making that it can have. Even so- everything is very much visually there in my head if that makes sense? I tend to know what I want the final image to feel like.
Are there any themes that you continually like to explore in your work?
Recently I've been looking into love and it's different forms. How it manifests, how we show love. I've got this side project in which I draw portraits of couples in their homes, and I'm also starting a new series soon on a similar theme.
"I try to do as little preparation drawing as possible so the final image can have the most natural, expressive mark making that it can have."
What are you obsessed with at the moment?
I've just read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. The illustrations by Ralph Steadman are palpable, so intense and moody. Also Ronald Searle's illustrations, his volume and shapes are equally delicious.
What’s your most prized possession?
Everything is a prized possession! Like I said, very sentimental... nothing gets thrown away. I bought this huge Chinese calligraphy brush, it's as big as my arm. I'm a bit scared to use it. Or else, I hoard a lot of old ticket stubs, receipts and notes from people I love.
What’s your favourite subject matter? People or places?
People in places!
Do you associate different colours with different moods or environments?
Very much. Naming colours is also one of my favourite things! In my first year at art school me and my friend Rose came up with a name for a particular yellow and we called it 'medical lemon'. We wrote in up in the kitchen and it stayed up there for three years, I think of yellow when I think of that kitchen now.
Where’s home for you in London?
In the suburbs. Last stop on the train line - which means I sleep on all my journeys home like a baby...
Do you think living in London influences your work at all?
I think the need for escapism also really influenced me, which can definitely be a product of living in London.
What are your favourite spots in London to go for inspiration? Any hidden gems…?
Some of the smaller galleries are definitely worth checking out like the John Soane's museum, the Hunterian museum or the Grant museum of zoology if you want to look at weird organs and things in jars! One of the best bits of London is you have a wealth of different communities all in one city, so there's pockets of just very incredible food. West Ealing has great Persian food, New Malden for Korean, of course Chinatown for Chinese. There's this list of different communities in different areas compiled if you're interested in trying different food: theguardian.com/uk/2005/jan/21/britishidentity
What would you say are the best things about being a young creative in London?
That it's very very hard, but it's also one of the rare places where you can find lots of crazy talented, likeminded people who you can work alongside and try and make something really special.
You’re getting to travel the world for work at the moment, which is amazing – what’s been your travel highlights so far?
Just finding myself walking in different streets by myself and feeling very peaceful and in awe of everything. I was in Berlin recently and stayed with two dear friends. We didn't really do anything touristy which was a total refresh - just had lots of home cooked meals and good conversation.
Where would you live if not in London and why?
A city that you don't need a car to get around. I actually really like the bus, and getting places by foot!
What have you got coming up next that you’re excited about?
I've got an art residency lined up in a couple of months’ time - but until then, just working on projects and commissions! I'm doing multiple things at once and my head is pretty much a jumbled stew at the moment, I'll keep stirring it up and making a big creative mess.
Any advice to aspiring artists wanting to make a living out of their creative output?
Work hard, hustle a lil bit, be brave, don't be afraid to put your stuff out there, even your tests and workings out. Those are my favourite things to see.
@itsjoeyyu | joeyyu.co.uk