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There’s more to this illustrator than meets the eye. Joey Yu draws faces and places in a very intimate, profound kind of way, even though she isn’t personally acquainted with half of the things she’s portraying. Using broad strokes, just like an impressionistic work of art, she captures the essence of what she’s depicting in a swiftly manner before the moment fades away. Joey will take part in the Pepe Jeans Custom Studio Experience on Saturday 9 at the Pepe Jeans store in Regent St. (London) customizing live, do you want to join?
Hi Joey, could you present yourself to our readers?
Hello! I’m Joey Yu, an illustrator, animator and artist from London.
What is it that you find so amusing about depicting seemingly mundane scenes? Your Instagram post Sea of Faces, going places makes me think that you are emotionally invested in the own unique life stories of people, even strangers. Is that so?
I’m super invested in other people’s stories. I’m a very nosy person: I love looking at how people dress, how they carry themselves, the things they say, etc. Drawing mundane scenes and the people around us all the time is fun because it’s challenging. It’s not what’s just directly right in front of you, but the feeling you get from the environment, subtle nuances in strangers, etc. Things build up and affect the way you put pencil to paper.
Not only do you seem interested in human behaviour but also in locations or just environments in general. Why is that?
I think they go hand in hand; they complement each other very well. It instantly presents you with a story.
Why would you say you paint using broad strokes, even when using pencils?
To capture things as fast as possible, to get my ideas down before I lose them.
I’ve read that you are inspired by Hong Kong’s new wave cinema, where would you say we can see those influences in your work?
I love their use of colour and their framing – I like applying those cinematic sensibilities to reportage drawing. But also, thinking in terms of themes, you can look at a film like Chungking Express and how it is basically about these huge urban sprawling locations and the minutiae that go on in them. I love drawing people interacting and the imagined narratives that go on around all the time.
Would you like to reveal to us what you are currently working on?
A couple of animations. I love making things move, but they’re the sort of projects that take a long time, so you won’t be seeing them for a while.
Which relatively unknown hotspots would you recommend us to visit in London?
I feel like there aren’t any unknown spots in London, but I can always recommend going off down side streets from a main area; the best shops are always in tucked away corners. Can’t go wrong with a visit to one of the many galleries too, like the Horniman or the John Soane museums.
What can you tell us about your collaboration with Pepe Jeans and Custom Studio? How's your experience been?
Super fun! I never knew you could laser print on denim before, so that suddenly made me think about printing in a whole new way. I also love how experimental you can get with denim, it’s so versatile.
Had you ever customised any other garment before? If so, tell us more about it.
I’m a big customiser! I paint and draw on a lot of clothing. I have lots of jeans that have my artwork all over them.
In this collaboration with Pepe, how have you expressed your personality and work through customisation?
I did a big drawing piece across the back from an artwork I made when I visited Seoul. I drew it the first night I got there in a café that was open super late. I think that piece really sums up the kind of work I strive to make, so I think it turned out well.
Why would you say customisation is important/relevant?
Because you can make mistakes, you can make things new, you can make things that no one else will ever have.
Talk about your projects for the near future.
I’ll be visiting a few places abroad for some interesting projects, collaborating with others, and making more things that people can physically own.

Mercedes Rosés
Candice Lo

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