The Block

Interviews — 4 weeks ago

Community Focus: Joey Yu

Since we started Everpress, we’ve heard all kinds of reasons that our community choose to run T-shirt campaigns with us; from launching a brand, to finding a new medium for their existing work, to helping get the word out about what they do. Now, increasingly, we’re seeing more and more creators use Everpress as an additional income stream to help support their practice. 

 

It’s one of the most urgent issues facing creatives today, but in the culture industries talking about money and profit is still often taboo. That’s why we’ve launched our Community Focus series, which sees us speak to four different members of our community to find out why they run pre-order campaigns, and to better understand the impact their campaign profits can have on their ability to do what they do best.

 

First up, we turned to illustrator Joey Yu for her thoughts on the value of re-wearing clothes, the importance of libraries, and how she uses the money she makes through running Everpress campaigns. 

Words
Everpress Team
Photography
Dean Martindale
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Joey Yu, photographed by Dean Martindale (@deanmartindale)

Joey Yu only graduated from Kingston’s Illustration and Animation programme in 2017, but in the short time since she’s quickly established herself as one of the most exciting illustrator/animator/curators around, with a client list that spans The New York Times, The Guardian, Tate, The British Council, and Hermes. In a Nicer Tuesdays talk back in January, Yu said she finds, “an excess of stuff inspiring: I try to read as many books as possible, watch as many films and travel as much.” This approach makes for a multifaceted, wide-ranging output; as she put it in the talk, “I always want to keep my work consistently inconsistent.” Now on her 5th campaign with us, Yu has established herself as a firm Everpress favourite since her first one last summer. Read on for her insights into running campaigns in her own words. 

 

ON EARLY INSPIRATION

I have to give credit to libraries. I didn’t really go to galleries or museums much when I was growing up; but I went to the local library every week. That was my gallery, it put me on to a lot of the things I like now. I rinsed the entire children’s book selection and took out like 5 books a week and just read as much as possible. I was super drawn to the idea of storyline and plot and the images that went along with it, and I just spent ages staring at these pictures. I didn’t know that that was illustration, but I knew that it was what I wanted to do.

Illustration courtesy of Joey Yu

ON THE FAST-FASHION INDUSTRY

 It’s a huge industry that is hard to unravel and discuss because there’s a lot of elements to it. One thing I wish for though is less haul videos, and more content on how to wear things in different ways. Change the ideology that people can only be seen wearing something once. I can wear a lime green jacket for an event as a suit, but I also wear it day to day and layer it with other things. It’s a mindset, people just need the tools to be excited by what they already have. 

I’ve always had lots of clothes, but it’s in rotation. You have to understand the cyclical nature of fashion, and our desires and tastes. I dig out things from five years ago, and then it’s fun to work out how to make it work now. Lots of things I buy second hand, or I’ve had passed down to me from my parents and I enjoy wearing things in different ways, so it’s fun. When buying new, I think about ten different ways that item will work with what I have, and whether I don’t already have something that fills its place.

People just need the tools to be excited by what they already have 

ON WHY SHE STARTED SELLING T-SHIRTS

I just wanted to make something that was a conversation starter, so that when you wore it, someone could read the writing off of it and it would bring about discussion. The first shirt I made with Everpress was created from snippets of a sketchbook, so it was like I had laid it all out for you to see.

Joey Yu, photographed by Dean Martindale (@deanmartindale)
Joey Yu, photographed by Dean Martindale (@deanmartindale)

ON HOW HER CAMPAIGNS SUPPORT WHAT SHE DOES

I get to travel more! Last year it was super helpful. I’ve recently gotten back into walking, just the act of walking – for inspiration, for health, for helping to clear the mind. The extra funds will allow me to take a hiking trip somewhere in the UK. I want to climb rocks. Bring my sketchbook and paints. I was climbing in stupid shoes over summer and slipped and bruised like a plum, so actual hiking shoes are probably something I’ll get too!

I wanted to make something that was a conversation starter

ON SEEING PEOPLE IN HER T-SHIRTS

I enjoy seeing how someone else styles it. I’ve seen people wearing it smart, like with a blazer and trousers, or layered and casual. They’re all really cool, I love when people send me pictures of them wearing the shirts, I just think, wow. They are all very well dressed in general.

I’ve had friends text me saying they’ve seen people on public transport wearing it. That’s fun, sort of like Where’s Wally?

Joey Yu's sketchbook, photographed by Dean Martindale (@deanmartindale)
Joey Yu’s sketchbook, photographed by Dean Martindale (@deanmartindale)

SOME WORDS OF ADVICE…

Don’t try to follow in anyone else’s footsteps! And make things with conviction. It’s fine to make work that’s trendy or cool or whatever, but if you’re not behind it yourself then I don’t think there’s much point, so always knowing “this work came from me and my brain, and heart is behind it,” then you’ll be fine!

Joey Yu’s desk, photographed by Dean Martindale (@deanmartindale)

Read More: Our series has seen us speak to Kyle PlattsDavid Vujanić and Murkage Dave, so be sure to check out the other interviews. And you can shop Joey’s winter Bonsai long-sleeve here.