Disposable Conversations: An interview with artist John Yuyi
Art — 21.11.17
Interview: Desislava Todorova
John Yuyi’s work with Gucci has become internationally renowned thanks to social media. Instagram has become one of her primary sources of information as well as being her artistic platform. Her temporary tattoos reflect the idea of the momentary cyber emotions we all exchange on a daily basis trapped in time on a single print. Art & Culture editor Desislava Todorova spoke to Yuyi about the idea of the body as a mirror and the art of transformation.
What does transformation mean to you?
I think becoming an artist was a really big transformation for me, even accepting to introduce myself an artist took me a while. I majored in fashion design, and I was creating my art while doing styling jobs. I always thought ‘I’m going to work for a magazine or as a stylist’, but opportunities just came to me. It gave me a lot of chances to do my art, not just with the people, but also with the brands I enjoy. I feel lucky that I can do something I like for a living. I still love fashion a lot, and that’s why my work sometimes combines with fashion. Art is a great way of ” transformation”. I’m not good with words, I often use images or my work to speak for me, and it can have a different definition for everybody else.
How does art reflect the idea of transformation?
I don’t know. I think maybe if my major were in fine art, I would think differently. My idea of art is to be different, but my intention is not to do art. I just to do something I like and want to show to people, so I think this “transformation” made me still think of my own ideas in my own way – I don’t think it’s bad or good. I think what if you want to express yourself, but because of the language barrier or because you are not good at communicating yourself verbally, art can talk for you.
How did you come up with the idea about the temporary tattoos and why?
After I graduated from fashion design in Taipei, I was thinking of getting my artist Visa to be able to work in New York. In the meantime, I was working as a styling assistant in VOGUE Taiwan, and I was also drawing some weird stuff to make into temporary tattoos and sell it online. But I did it anonymously, so not a lot of people knew what I was doing. Then I did a swimsuit collection. I made some posts to promote my swimsuits using temporary tattoo with FB elements. That’s how I started doing it back in 2014.
In 2015, I started to do it on my friends and me just for fun, because I thought that it would be cool to put our selfies and posts on our faces and then post the shoot on social media. It’s like a social media cycle for me. From 2016, I started travelling to Tokyo, London… I did a lot of collaborations with different people, magazines and brands.
What do they symbolise?
When I make them, I like how the texture is like skin, like your body is a screen showing the information, or a window. When I work with people, I like to ask what they really want to tell, because then the work is related to the people I work with. It’s always fun to work with people. It’s like using a different way combine it with my art to tell a new story.
How has social media shaped your art?
I think social media made me start doing it. It plays a very important role in my daily life. I spend a lot of time on my phone, and I derive a lot of my observations from my internet world. I try to tell myself, “Instagram artist” is a term now, but I don’t want to do it just for this square layout. I will think about the relationship with doing art for Instagram or using it as a platform.
What’s next for you – do you have any future collaborations/projects?
I really want to have a solo exhibition in New York before my birthday which is on Feb 21. I hope it will come true, but I need to work on it.