Taiwanese born, New-York based John Yuyi infuses her contemporary photography practice with subversive temporary tattoos to reflect her cultural identity and being a child of diaspora. With a mass internet following, a background in fashion design, some seriously major campaigns under her belt (including the likes of Gucci) – we wanted to ask her a few questions about her path into creating art.
We read that you studied fashion in Tapei before moving to New York. Why did you decide to become an artist?
It’s totally an accident. I studied fashion design in university and I realized its difficult to be a fashion designer in Taiwan cause the market is really small and my family is not rich. (laughs) So I decided to be a stylist and want to work for magazine, but during the time I am running my Instagram. So it started from an Instagram post. I tried to post something fun and gradually I gain more press from what I was doing. and then I started collaborations with different people and brands and now I’m in NYC doing art.
What is it like living and working in New York as an artist and how does it compare to Tapei?
The reason why I decided to move to New York is that I think Taipei is more judgmental and New York is very free and more openminded. I felt depressed when I did my own work in Taipei at the beginning, cause I feel a lot of people will judge me and say “she’s just trying to be famous” or ” I don’t know what she’s doing” from people I know. I don’t care about that kind of comments now. I think one reason why, is I found the balance of mental peace and second is in New York, a lot of people are doing what they like and don’t care about what people think. This environment makes me feel more comfortable to be myself and do my own stuff.
What are some of the biggest influences in your creative process and your work?
I don’t really know, but my ideas all come from my daily observation. I will write down immediately when I have ideas that I wanna do next.
Your photographic practice often features mundane everyday objects repurposed in surprising ways, such as instant noodles as face jewellery, Reebok shoelaces as Apple iPhone chargers and temporary Twitter face tattoos. Could you please explain what you are aiming to awaken in the viewer?
I’m bad at expressing through speaking, so I use visual ways to express, and as I said it’s all from daily observation of my life. I was thinking of what “art” is one day on subway. I think art is a documentary and a history of an individual. So, my art is a record of my observation of what happening right now. It reflects the life we are living in right now.
You recently collaborated with Gucci on a campaign. What was that experience like?
It’s really good cause they gave me a lot of freedom. I think it’s really important for an artist to collaborate with such a big brand and we all found a way to present the work. I’m really flattered that feedback is good.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m working on collaboration with brands now, and I wish I to have a solo exhibition in New York soon.
THE FINAL FIVE
Favourite musician / band? Faye Wong/ Cocteau twins
Favourite book? Pride and Prejudice
Favourite film? Chungking Express by Wong Kar Wai
If you weren’t an artist what would you be? I want to be a contemporary dancer or politics or surgery doctor.
If you could change one thing about the world today what would it be? Gender equality.