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Really inspired by her work, Korean artists Danbi Shin and Seok Li decided to team up with Taiwanese tattoo artist John Yuyi. The first two wanted Yuyi to redesign their Half n’ half photographic project, which spotlights their love story between New York and Seoul, through her creative mindset. The recent Gucci collaborator proposed them a breathtaking new concept that offered their project a whole new dimension.
Could you please tell more about John Yuyi and Shinliart? Who are they? How and when did you get into your art? 
John: My name is John Yuyi and I am a Taiwanese artist who lives and works between Taipei and New York. I received my BFA in Fashion Design from Shih Chien University in Taipei in 2013. My productions have allowed me to tread the line between fashion and art. Through photography, design, and installation, I incorporate an aesthetic reminiscent of my time studying apparel along with a tinge of humour that comes from my own personality.
My work has been shown in venues within New York, and published in numerous publications including New York Times, BBC, i-D and Nylon Magazine. I’ve recently collaborated with Gucci with my well-known project Face Post. I started this project in 2014 and it became a series in 2015. It was actually just a casual fun shooting I did with a friend of mine.
Shinliart: We are an artist couple who is active in Seoul. We’re creating artworks about the topic ‘love relationship’. Our couple consists of Shin Danbi, who does contemporary art, and Li Seok, who does a media art. In 2015, we started our relationship as lovers, and were full of energy. We needed something that could shape our love, and that ploughed our energy into creating works of art. Six months passed, and then Danbi left for New York, so we got started in our major long-distance relationship. The work Half & half started out that way, and it began to grab the attention of the world.
When did you meet each other and when did you decide to team up together to conceive this beautiful project? How did the idea of tattooing Shinliart’s Half n’ half project on their own bodies come up?
John: I received this cute couple’s inbox message when they were in New York City. I had already seen their work on TV in Taiwan, as I always want to know more about Korean culture, and I’ve always wanted to visit Korea. So I was so excited! And I was still doing this temporary tattoo art and skin projects. I thought that combining my art and their concept Half n’ half was very, very interesting.
Shinliart: We sent a collaboration message to John Yuyi, with whom we’ve wanted to work for a long time. Yuyi readily agreed to work with us. Thus, we suggested the idea of work and Yuyi was pleased with it.
Could you speak about the original message that you want to convey through Half n’ half project? What new messages or meanings has the project acquired after being translated into another art form? 
Shinliart: Half & half project expressed that minds and hearts are connected despite the distance. Since this project was newly redesigned with Yuyi, there was no particular message to deliver. The way she worked was quite attractive and it was expected to produce visual results created by the combination of our art.
Why was it important for all of you to amplify this message again through another form of art? What did interest you so much about this project to continue working on it? 
Shinliart: Artistic activities done with another characterful artist bring unexpected results and new ideas. The direction of work we pursue was delighted to meet a new creation, with another meaning added to the existing one. We believe that the process of our works being rebuilt and amplified in several different ways is an artistic experience that the modern world has to live.
Yuyi, could you now tell us more about the creative process, as you had to reach a perfect result by separating their original photographs on their two bodies? How did you do it to tattoo them while they were kissing each other? How long did the process last? And what was the hardest thing to manage?
John: (laughs) it’s really fun ‘cause they are super sweet so I felt really comfortable. It was the first time I put temporary tattoo on two bodies, and it was difficult. But they are a couple and they are very comfortable with each other so, that made me feel comfortable too. We had to shoot it quick. Like the kiss one: they need to breathe, so I asked them to hold the breath. It was a little bit more difficult than other shootings I did. But I was really happy to work with them.
What about you, Shin and Li? How did you two live this experience? What feeling did this one bring to you while you were living these emotions once again? And do you consider this experience like your project culmination?
Shinliart: Our experience with Yuyi brought us new inspiration. The surface of fake tattoos was very thin and delicate. If we touched it carelessly, it got easily tor. Then we put the thin torn part together. We shared tattoos carefully as if we performed a surgery. When we put tattoos on our mouth, we couldn’t breathe, but we embraced each other. This experience was like the little process of love. We thought that each other’s cautious hearts were put in each other’s minds. We love doing a work of art with confidence in an uneasy life.
Moreover, I can suppose that you were both expecting a result. How did you handle the project? Shin and Li, tell us about your expectations and the instructions you gave to Yuyi to realise this project.
Shinliart: We reeled off our story to Yuyi because we wondered how Yuyi would express our art. She thought about making works that would be very polished and progressive. We used to work cooperatively while Yuyi used to work alone. It was believed that the scene in which Yuyi and us met would be quite interesting.
And Yuyi, how did you merge their requirements with your personal style?
John: When I browsed their website and their Instagram, I saw this exhibition they held. And I thought that as they were doing Half n’ half, “let’s put tattoo of Half n’ half on their bodies”.
Are you all satisfied with the result?
John: I am. It’s not only a project. I also made two friends, and I wish I can visit Korea and make more projects there.
Shinliart: We did not know how visual results would come out, but visited Yuyi with high expectations. We are very happy with the results.

Erwan Filidori

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