Joey Yu 22 London

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.

Tell us about yourself and what you do: I'm Joey, an illustrator, animator and artist in London. I also run life drawing and art workshops too, and curate events! I've done art workshops with hard to reach programs at places like House of Illustration, because art is such a wonderful thing, and it lets you access so many people. How did you get into illustration and animation?I literally knew what I wanted to be since I was tiny. Apparently when I was younger I would say I was going to be an author and an illustrator. I was obsessed with the library, I literally rinsed the children's section of every book.Who’s work inspires you?Benoit Guillaume, Laura Carlin, Yann Kebbi, Jonathan Hodgson, and my closest creative friends.How would you describe your style?Gentle but zesty! It's all about taking observations, and turning them into stories. It's very autobiographical and personal too, as my drawings are from my day to day life.Do you explore any themes continually and if so, why?Urban alienation! We're all living in cities that are swamped with people, but we still feel a little lonely. There are little pockets of magic in the everyday, I hope I can capture those moments.What’s your favourite piece of art?Chungking Express by Wong Kar Wai. A film, that is an artwork in its own right. My absolute number one.How would your friends describe you in a sentence?A serial napper, like, I will nap on the floor, under tables, on top of tables, on trains, anywhere.What's the first thing you do when you get up?Wake up to the radio, put some rosehip oil and face cream on, dance and play dress up- then hurry up because i'm running late...When are you happiest?Hong Kong or Malaysia at night, slightly sweaty, eating greasy street food.Who do you admire?Nardwuar, 'the human serviette'. He interviews musicians and celebs, and finds out their weirdest and most obscure facts and obsessions. Literally the only interviewer to get artists like snoop dogg and tyler the creator's jaw to drop. I love his dedication to his job and energy! If you haven't watched his interviews, watch them, trust.What's your current obsession?The colours orange and red, the brighter the better.What’s your best advice?Believe you are someone important, and you will be.What could you not live without?My art materials and sketchbook.Book club recommendation?How To Be Both by Ali Smith.Best party you've ever been to?Me and my housemate James have thrown a joint birthday party for the past three years. They've all been themed, they've all been messy. The next one is GUILTY PLEASURES. We'll get on the table and dance (don't tell our landlord)! Song to be playing as you enter the club?Gwen Stefani, 'Cool' or Stevie Wonder, 'Do I Do.'Time you laughed the hardest?Maybe a couple days ago when I tried to draw Homer Simpson from memory and it was a monumental flop.What's your signature dish?Curry, gotta be super spicy.One item of clothing that best sums you up?A red suit!!! I like to power dress!What words or phrases do you most overuse?Sweet, magic, init, sickWhat three things would be on your rider?freeze dried jackfruit, sweet and salty popcorn, chestnutsWhat's your pet hate?When people complain too much, take it easy guys, it's a nice life.What's next?I have a couple of group exhibition dates coming up, one at the OXO bargehouse in June. And after - DRAWING TRIP TO KOREA AND JAPAN, TO GET ME A REAL NICE STUDIO SPACE. LETS MAKE IT HAPPEN! AND FINALLY...WHO IS YOUR NEXT BABYFACE GIRL SUGGESTION?Who: Ronan Mckenzie
Why: straight talker, sick style, sweet angel
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