Joey Yu is the ultimate creative chameleon — regularly switching between her roles as illustrator; animator, curator, artist, and most recently, fashion designer. You’d be forgiven for wondering how Joey has time for it all, but in truth she sees no separation between her ventures. “I balance work in a very precarious, haphazard way! But I always knew I had to be multidisciplinary. I'm only happy if I'm taking on absolutely everything.”
Wherever Joey goes, her sketchbook comes too. With her distinctive broad gestures, she can infuse even the most mundane scene with a sense of profundity and interest. From busy buses; to nondescript bowling alleys, a potted plant, British high streets, noisy lidos and greasy spoons, Joey’s translation of the hum-drum of everyday life is a beautiful way of seeing what we take for granted- anew. Joey has previously described the sketchbook as a way of ‘sealing your drawings like a secret.’ Thankfully, this is one secret that we’ve been let in on. Joey routinely publishes her latest works online for the world to see. From full pages dedicated to Wim Wender’s Paris, Texas, to intimate drawings of her close friends. Part Hockney, some bits Lowry, but mostly Joey Yu- everything she comes into contact with is given her signature energetic scrawl.
A look at Joey’s instagram feed and you can tell that she also has a flare for curation. As part of the Tate Collective, Joey curated an entire floor for the opening day of the Tate Switch House. Most recently, Joey has lent her unique touch to fashion design. You’ll find Joey modelling her own clothes decorated with those distinct illustrations in amongst the felt tip masterpieces. Joey’s clothes, as wonderfully detailed as her vignettes, are as promising as her artwork.
When Joey isn’t busy working away in her studio, or carefully observing the world around her, you might find her in front of a camera too. Extending into the world of modelling, Joey has recently been photographed alongside her sister (who she tells us is one of her greatest inspirations), by the brilliant Nadine Ijewere. While we patiently wait for Joey to set up her own fashion label, be sure to head to her Instagram page and see the world through Joey’s unique eyes.
Words by Jamila Prowse.