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Meetings: Joey Yu


We’ve been in love with Joey Yu’s illustration for a while, she joined us at our #8 launch all-dayer back in May and worked her way through an eager line of party-goers all looking for a portrait drawn in her inimitable style.

This year she was selected as one of the It's Nice That's Graduates of 2017, she has taken part in two exhibitions this summer and has been on a trip of a a lifetime. We caught up with Joey while she’s on a well-deserved break on the other side of the world… 

Where are you at the minute?

I'm currently writing to you from Penang, Malaysia. I’ve been savouring the heat on the back of my neck, sweet fruits, and noodles that you buy from a market stall; they give it to you in a plastic bag tied up with string. The architecture out here is so beautiful, a mixture of intricate and old colonial buildings which are great to draw.

I've also been finishing a hand drawn animation project that should be coming out soon too. Imagine me in the hotel lobby frantically trying to connect to the wifi to send emails back and forth…

It looks like you've been travelling the world recently - highlights so far?

Yes! I feel like I've worked hard this year (lots of all-nighters) so it's nice to spend some of it being inspired again.

Here are a few: being dwarfed by huge Swiss mountains, walking through preserved streets of Pompeii (seeing where ancient carts have worn away stone paths), watching marching bands stomping in unison on Merdeka day, and all the Malaysian temples (they have huge sticks of incense, and golden icons standing in shrines, surrounded by burning paper offerings to the gods).



Any current obsessions?

So many! The word 'fervently'. New wave Cantonese films. Golden hour. Thick headbands. Egg yolk yellow. Popeye magazine. Eating outside. Silk. Eighties stockbrokers imagery. Hiking. Doing things impulsively. Numero Tokyo’s October shoot with Kiko Mizuhara and airplane food.

Do you have a favourite colour and/or medium right now?

I love chartreuse, which is a sickly green/yellow shade. I like a muddy green too, and beige. It’s a gross colour renaissance and it feels good.

I recently bought some Sakura poster paints in little glass jars, which are very pigmented and buttery and when they dry you can see every direction and brush mark you make. I adore them already. 





What was the last lesson you learnt?

Today I learned that 'orang’ in Malay means person, and ‘hutan’ means forest. So ‘orangutan’ is essentially people of the forest!

Also that it’s ok to go at my own pace of life. I like to walk slow, do things slowly, think slowly, take my time and that's ok.

When was the last time you fucked up?

I haven’t updated or cleared out my computer for a few years, which recently manifested in a big tech mess up, so I guess that’s been a long overdue one.

What's next for you? Any project plans bubbling?

I met someone at a dinner recently who left London for New York one day, and just ended up staying there. She told me to follow that desire to travel so as soon as I got home that evening I booked a solo trip to Seoul in the winter. I’ve wanted to go for such a long time.

I’m also going to Greece for work, which is unexpected! So lots more travelling, drawing, painting, spending some time alone and a little out of my comfort zone. The eyes are made for seeing, after all.

Maybe the mind is made to be turned upside down on a regular basis too.

Any dream projects?

I'd love to curate an exhibition, creatively direct a music video, lock myself away for a few months and spend a good long time on a graphic novel

Which other WOC creatives do we need to be following?

Nadine Ijewere for her beautiful, painterly photographs. She has photographed my sister and I a couple of times and transforms us completely everytime!

Nilufer Yanya is a pal, and a sick musician. Listen to her songs, The Florist or Golden Cage.

Another dear friend Jiye Kim. Her illustrations are remarkable and have such a voice. 

What do you want to read about in the next issue of Riposte? 

I want to hear about really good comedians. I love wit and humour and I know so many incredibly funny women in real life but there are so few good, cool girls of comedy. If anyone has someone to recommend, please let me know! Stand up, authors, sketch shows, whatever, I’m into it.

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