ILLUSTRATOR YVETTE YU
EDITORS OF CHILLE NEW YORK
April 6, 2020
Yvette is a painter, illustrator and story-teller. Through brushstrokes, she not only found the most genuine way to communicate to the world but also embarked on an endless journey to self-discovery.
Her inspiration comes from the places she’s trotted, the cultures she’s part of, and the stories she hopes to continue a dialogue with. She dedicates most of her time to fashion illustration and portrait painting.
Yvette is a graduate from the University of Maryland and is currently based in New York City. In the past, her art has been featured at a few cafes in DC. Most recently, she illustrated two Fashion Stories for Karlie Kloss’s YoutTube Channel.
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Q & A
Courtesy of Yvette Yu
Why did you choose to become an illustrator or painter? How did that happen? Can you tell us more about the turning points?
I've always loved to draw ever since I was a little girl. My first ever art class was for Chinese Ink Wash and I was about six years old then. When I was younger, it's always been more like a hobby or just one of the many extracurricular activities your parents signed you up for. I started to become more serious with art when I first moved to the US during my teenage years. I was overcoming my language and culture barriers. Art to me felt like a safe place, my unique language to communicate with the world.
When you start creating a new work, where does your inspiration usually come from?
For fashion illustration, most of the time I get inspired when I see colorful styling or beautiful photography. If I really have strong feelings, I want to draw it out and put it on paper. I want to use my own way to express how that piece of work has touched me. For oil paintings, the process is less spontaneous. Sometimes I sketch out my ideas on my sketchbook, but most of the time I like to start with a plan as blank as the canvas. When I start creating, I have no idea how the end piece would turn out either. So sometimes, I get surprised by my own art at the end. It's a fabulous feeling.
Your work has been noticed by many fashion icons like Karlie Kloss, Marc Jacobs, and Liu Wen. What is unique about your work that made you stand out among other illustrators?
I think it's because my art has my own style. It's my own voice that I've been cultivating throughout the years, like that language that I've been practicing that just belongs to me. I think all great artists or illustrators have their own styles that are unique. So whenever I draw or illustrate, I focus more on how I feel about that subject rather than what it actually is or looks like on the surface.
What are some of your favorite works? Tell us about the creative process behind them.
Most of the time when I start drawing or painting, I don't even know what it's going to turn out like. I can only follow my intuition, and I have to rely on my hands to put that on paper or canvas. I really enjoy the process, it's a lot of fun and very challenging. So to me, to create the next favorite work is to keep drawing, keep painting, keep starting a new work. There's a quote from van Gough that I believe whole-heartedly: “One must spoil as many canvases as one succeeds with.”
As an illustrator, how do you keep a high level of creative energy, keep creating good work and feeling inspired?
I love newness! Doing something new, going somewhere new, learning something new. I love traveling, reading, watching movies and meeting people from all walks of life. They help me to see the world from new perspectives and to stay curious. Life could be mundane but if you can live it with a fresh perspective every day, it's hard to not fall in love and celebrate that through arts. I also like to go to art shows and meet other artists, see what they are doing because creative energy is contagious!
Other than that, practice is crucial too. Sometimes I draw not for an urge to create or convey, but just to practice my skills. It's more like drills. Only by maintaining a certain level of skill, I can adeptly express and create when I get inspired all of a sudden.
Illustration is a very specific branch within visual arts and unique in its own way. What do you think of it? What’s special about it?
I think illustration is unique in that it's using art to tell stories. Every illustrator has his or her own visual language. No matter how different the visual languages are, viewers can easily understand the message and even become fascinated by the visuals in front of them. I think that's the most special thing about being an illustrator. It’s visual storytelling.
What do you like to do when you are not in front of your sketchbook or canvas?
Besides reading and watching movies, or hanging out with friends, I love practicing yoga, as well as hiking and being outdoors After spending enough time in concrete jungles, I get drained and tired, and I want to just be surrounded by trees, rivers or mountains. In that type of environment, I always find peace at the bottom of my heart from simply breathing. It's amazing. It helps me to create space to stay focused and reflect, tracing back to flickers of ideas or inspirations that I wouldn't be able to grasp if I were in a place full of distractions.
What are your goals in 2020? Any challenges you have for yourself?
I hope to create more art! Because I am just a freelancer and I have another full-time job. It's very hard to focus and improve unless I commit time and effort. In the near future, I want to paint more oils. My latest works are mostly in watercolors because that's quick and spontaneous. Oil painting requires more time and patience. Oil painting was my first love and I want to go back to it and become better.