Regulars / Nicer Tuesdays

Illustrator Joey Yu on the need to stay active, communicate and seek collaboration

“I’m really interested in people and places and how they interact with each other,” explained illustrator and animator Joey Yu, addressing the crowd as she began her talk at January’s Nicer Tuesdays.

A 2017 graduate from Kingston University, Joey said she thinks of herself as a “fresh baby”, having only recently left the world of education. Though she has already learned a lot, she says she continues to learn.

“When I think about what I want from my job, I think about this picture,” she said, gesturing towards a photo on screen of a large crowd of rowdy teenage boys at Tate Britain. “Imagine me at the front of them, and imagine them booing me off stage, because that happened.” Joey went on to explain how her previous role at Tate’s Young People’s Programmes saw her introducing people to art who had no real previous interest. “It sounds like a hectic event, and it was – and kind of a disaster, but I felt so alive and I realised I wanted to be doing this all the time. I always want to be having conversations and be agile and doing stuff on my feet.”

Moving forward with this mindset, Joey showed the Nicer Tuesdays crowd various projects that she had been working on in the last year. Beginning with her billboard illustrations of the suffragette movement at Village Underground for the LDN WMN series, which was made using charcoal, collage paper and was coloured digitally. “This was the project I was most proud of… it was nice to be part of something way bigger than me and to be working on a huge scale.”

Other projects included Joey’s live performance drawings, which have taken her to Greece, Korea and finally California’s Silicon Valley for “the launch of a new Hermès store. “It was kind of fancy,” she laughed going on to say how it was “amazing to see how the same project can be activated in different spaces.”

As she continued to show the crowd a wide variety of her illustrations, including reportage drawings from even more countries and destinations, Joey said that she always wants to keep her work “consistently inconsistent” and she always wants to be greedy: “I find the excess of stuff inspiring. I try to read as many books, watch as many films and travel to as many places as possible.”

Joey finished her talk by emphasising the need to stay active, communicate and seek collaboration, detailing how she hates working by herself and feeling isolated and just wants to have conversations. Joey’s parting words of wisdom were to “make sure you’re always talking to people. It gets you to places you never thought you could get.”


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