As part of our new partnership with Emily Carr University of Art + Design, I’ve been interviewing recent grads about their work. This has been a fun way to reconnect with the school I attended (years ago) and it’s really inspiring to see all the talent coming out of there. Hope you enjoy this little series!
First up is Yuying He, an illustrator born in Guangzhou, China and currently based in Vancouver. Yuying takes inspiration from Ukiyo-e, Japanese woodblock printing and painting, and uses both traditional and digital tools to create her work. She says that she “enjoys carving details and using human figures as a medium to explore (and search) for the relationship between humans and figures, memories, objects, and creatures”.
Jeff Hamada: I know you love TV, what are your favourite shows right now?
Yuying He: I love to watch different kinds of shows, documentaries, dramas, or anime. The show that I love to watch right now is a Japanese tv show named “Monday Lateshow (月曜から夜ふかし)”. They have introduced many local events for example they always interview people about their personal news and interesting things that happened to them. It has presented a real-life of people that live in Japan.
JH: Why do you think you like it so much?
YH: Each episode from Monday Lateshow is interesting. It gives me another perspective of Japan. I have traveled to Japan a lot, but since I don’t live there, I don’t get to know their daily life or interesting news that happens to them. In the show, they sometimes went to one place and did a 24hr interview about local people in different generations. Each place has its own characteristic. It is a great show to know that there are many different kinds of cultures and a variety of people in the world.
JH: My favourite part of the bio you sent me is where it says you love eating sweets while lying on the toys you collect! I want to hear more about these toys.
YH: I LOVE plush toys. My favourite two are Lot’s-O-Huggin’ Bear (from Toy Story 3) and Stella Luo (from Tokyo DisneySea). My cat Luna is also in love with Lot’s-O-Huggin’ Bear, she loves kneading on it. Every time I get home, my bear has been flattened on my bed.
JH: Your “Childhood” series explores the idea that children are neither good or bad, you see them as pure as they act instinctively. Do you approach your art instinctively?
YH: I was inspired by photographers Ryoji Akiyama and Kotori Kawashima. Their photos remind me of my childhood and the children that I played/talked with. Especially volunteer experience as a teacher assistant in Mandarin School (teaching elementary students) has brought me more close to children’s behaviours and thoughts. From that, I started to draw out some daily behaviours and exaggerates them, and combine them with some elements.
JH: What is it about Japanese art, specifically Ukiyo-e, that you are drawn to?
YH: The way that Japanese art have simple, quiet, with a sense of loneliness in it. Before, I always have a voice in my mind that as an artist, I need to add more elements in the background to make the drawing more rich and complicated with strong decorative effects. After I get to know Japanese art, it has given me a new perspective of art.
JH: Who are some of the artists you follow on Instagram that make you excited to make things these days?
YH: Tadashi Okuyama, Ozabu, Audrey Kawasaki, Fuco Ueda, and Edward Kinsella III are the artists that I’ve love to see their work these days. Each of them has a unique style and their works had a huge inspiration to me;)
JH: Do you feel like you’ve found your creative voice or is it still a work in progress?
YH: I feel that I’m still working in progress on my creative voice. I’m still trying to figure out and experience more about what kinds of materials that I can put it in my work, not just a single material, such as digital or acrylic.
JH: What’s one thing you’d like to accomplish this next year?
YH: I’m aiming to become a tattoo artist next year. For now, I’m preparing my portfolio to be an apprentice.
JH: Love to see some of your characters as tattoos. What about one thing you’d like to accomplish in your lifetime?
YH: Haven’t really thought about that yet, but I really want to study/live in Japan for a while. I want to feel the difference in the culture and hopefully, that can be one of my inspirations. Compared to watching documentaries, photos, or books about that country, I would love to enjoy it by living in the country.