Joey wearing Neil in Matte Black photographed by Rosie Matheson

Joey wearing Neil in Matte Black photographed by Rosie Matheson

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Joey Yu

Artist and illustrator

Growing up, my parents owned a hairdresser’s in the suburbs of London, so I would spend lots of time in the salon staffroom drawing and playing in the garden. I think I just really enjoyed my own company most of the time. It’s hard to sum up the influence of your heritage in words but it does manifest in different ways though—a taste in food, the certain rules in a household, a yearning for a hot climate.

 Joey in Max Metal Temple. lilac.

Joey in Max Metal Temple. lilac.

My identity is layered, I can be as equally boisterous as I can be quiet and reflective. How I dress is important to me and often reflects my moods. I’m a big power dresser though! Even if I’m not leaving my house I like to get ready just to feel mentally prepared for the day. It’s funny what items bring you power. I recently got a lipstick in a rusty clay colour, and hair scrunchies in a rich sea blue, looking at those two colours hovering around my face cheer me up so much. I have these huge frilly white shirts that make me feel like Shakespeare, when I wear them I feel especially powerful!

I think a problem with social media is it typically flattens out the depth of personality that everyone has—it’s good to remember there’s always so much more to someone than what they seem online.

I try and draw every day. Making marks on paper is really important for me to process things. It’s a way of consolidating and cementing those soft shoots of ideas that I have, and the things that I don’t understand. I don’t have to be happy with the drawings I make all the time. I actually make a lot of work that I don’t like, which makes me kind of happy. Wherever I go, my work is a mirror to exactly who I am in that moment. I think the “Couples In London” project is something I’m most passionate about. I visit couples for a few hours- painting them whilst we talk. The documentary style and live drawing nature of the project really captures what I care about—meeting people and hearing their stories is one I value a lot.

Everyone I meet seems to leave a mark on me. My English teacher in Year 11 had a big impact on me. She was this incredible woman; one of the rare people who really believed in the subject they taught. I think I learned from her how important storytelling was, and the power imagery has in its many forms.

 Joey in Vic Lux, Pink Suede.

Joey in Vic Lux, Pink Suede.

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All photography by Rosie Matheson

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