Interview by SANZA BULAYA
Why your name is John Yuyi?
Hahaha! I always get this question! “Why do you have a male name as your artist name?” It’s very simple, actually my Chinese nickname given by friends is very close to “John” in Chinese-Mandarin in terms of pronunciation and “Yuyi” is my real last name so I decided to simply go for “John Yuyi”.
Like this, people can eventually pronounce my name. It’s easier for my foreign friends and it’s easy to memorize.
哈哈哈！我總是被問到這個問題！ “為什麼你以男性的名字自稱？”其實很簡單，我的綽號朋友取的 非常接近“John”而在發音方面 “Yuyi”是我的姓，所以我決定乾脆叫“John Yuyi”，這樣，大家才能以我的名字發音。它更容易讓外國朋友記住。
The last time I talk to you was last year same month: August 2015. At that time last year, we just finished our fashion story shooting for the Revver issue #6 with the “John Yuyi Swimwear”. If my memory is incorrect, you were about to leave Taiwan for New York. Is it correct?
Oh yes… In fact it was the time I broke-up with my ex-boyfriend when I was about to leave to New York. On the top of being boyfriend/girlfriend, we were also life and career partner. The reason why I went to New York was because we both decided to go there, so I applied for an “artist” visa to work there as an artist for three years. I got my “artist” visa in summer 2015… In my mind it was like in the Jay-Z song:
“If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere”
“The Concrete Jungle where dreams come true”
“If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere”
“The “concrete jungle where dreams come true”
New York city! I had a lot of expectations and excitement! However, at that time having a boyfriend in Taiwan was not on my schedule. I planned to develop myself rather than being in a relationship with someone based in Taiwan: so far away from New York ㄡ
I’m a “Pisces” so I care a lot about “relationship”, more than “a career”… But I followed my plan, and when I arrived in New York after we broke-up: I felt extremely insecure. I was 100% sure that going there with him would be something great: I could feel secure and focus…
You need to understand that it was not my first time to go to New York, I went there in 2013 but it was my first time going to literally live for a long time in “The Concrete Jungle”: how to find a job to support myself? How to fit in the society?
我對紐約有很多的期待和興奮！然而，男朋友在台灣並不在我的行程裡。我計劃發展自己，而不是與在台灣的男友建立關係 台灣與紐約如此遙遠遠。我是 “雙魚座”，所以 “關係”對我非常重要，重要過“職業生涯”…可是我按照我原本的計劃，當我們分手後抵達紐約時 我覺得極不安全。我100％確信如果有他同行絕對很棒，有他在我可以有安全感和專注力。這是我第一次到國外生活：如何找到一份工作來養活自己？如何適應社會？
At the beginning it was very difficult for me, it was a lot of stress. So guess what, one week later I bought a flight ticket to Thailand… But I came back to New York later and it was hard. I had really tough moments in that city, it’s a mix of different things: I’m bipolar, and I have some anxiety issues, in addition to my love relationship with my ex-boyfriend… When this happens to you in a such active and hectic environment like New York city it’s really hard to manage… My family and friends were really worried for me. But I decided to hold on and to stay because it was my plan, my path…
When was your first time in New York? In 2013?
The first time I went to New York was in 2013 after my graduation. I was there for an internship with Jason Wu, and my ex-boyfriend told me that I had shown some potential during the summer internship so he suggested me to apply for the “artist visa” to come back and to make a career in “The Concrete Jungle”. It took me two years to get the “artist” before I left last year in August 2015…
我第一次去紐約是在2013年大學畢業後。我在吳季剛那裡實習，我的前男友告訴我，我有潛力， 我應該申請“藝術家簽證”回來，在 “混凝土叢林”裡發展職業生涯。我花了兩年的時間拿到簽證，最後離開去紐約，是2015八月…
How did you start being involved into Art?
Back to 2013, after coming back from New York for the internship with Jason Wu I started to do some “temporary” tattoos of myself. The first year I graduated I had a small “shop” selling “temporary” tattoos I draw… So I thought” why don’t I just try to put some Facebook poses of my face as an inspiration? I asked to my friend to stick some of my Facebook photos poses her your body. She said “yes it’s fun!” As we’ve got a friend photographer, he took some pictures of my friends with the Facebook photos poses on my friends as “temporary” tattoos. It was not an artwork per se because at the very beginning we never said: “let’s do some art” or “let’s do an artwork”. We just had some fun testing things… For us it would be just cool posting those shots on Instagram.
時序回到2013年， 紐約實習後，當時我開始做一些“臨時紋身”在我身上。 我畢業的第一年， 我有一個小的“店”賣我畫的“臨時紋身”… 我想：“何不試試將Facebook上的貼文轉貼在我臉上作為靈感？我問我的朋友能否將我的Facebook上的臉部的照片貼在你的身上？她說，可以，應該很有趣！
連同一位攝影師朋友，我們三個人開始以“臨時紋身”概念做一些有趣的事 然後將很酷的照片張貼在Instagram。我們從未說： “讓我們做一件藝術品。” 對我們而言就是將很酷的照片張貼在Instagram 。
So there was no aspiration from you to craft this piece of art? It’s almost an accidental art piece!
We didn’t expect that those photos went so viral on social media: Tumblr, and Instagram… Even in Dongdaemun, where they sell a lot low prices clothes and accessories for retail shops, they started to use some of our photos as a print for some t-shirts: it was really crazy and influential! From that moment, I thought that we should keep doing our stuff. When I came back to Taiwan I did another series with another friend of mine. It was not that successful in terms of attention but I still thought it was a fun project!
How from there, did you get involved into art projects?
As I said, New York gave me a lot of hard time. I was really mentally unstable there. However, I also met great people, there has been a Belgian friend Tom Galle that I originally met on Facebook who was based in New York. We talked a lot and we become best friends like “sister-sister”, because we share the same vibes about thinking, art and fashion tastes… Tom’s friends have a studio in New York so I kept doing my “temporary” tattoos and trying new things with them. Going to studio was a great therapy against anxiety. All the people at the studio were very talented! We were brainstorming, talking about projects and we kicked-off a lot of different projects together like the “MacBook selfie-stick” project. Tom and his friends have played a key role into my implication into art projects. I have been quite lucky to meet them and being part of some of their projects.
正如我說的，在紐約我經歷很多的困難， 不穩定，精神上受到城市節奏和生活方式影響。不過，我也遇到了很棒的人，一位比利時朋友Tom Galle在Facebook上認識的朋友他剛好在紐約。我們談了很多，我們成為如同姐妹般的好朋友，因為我們分享思想，藝術品味及對時尚有相同的共鳴……跟湯姆以及他的朋友在他紐約的工作室， 我一直在做我的“臨時紋身”和他們一起嘗試新事情。去工作室對焦慮有很大的治療。在工作室裡認識一些非常有才華的人！我們集思廣益，談論的項目，我們一起合作像“的MacBook自拍棒”。湯姆和他的朋友都扮演了關鍵的角色。我很幸運，認識他們，成為他們一些項目的一部分.
Printing, scanning, Internet, social media, MacBook… Why technology is so important for you?
I don’t think of “technology” as Technology, but I think that the Internet and social media are the most effective ways to engage people. When I started to design my swimming suit “John Yuyi Swimwear” it was something that I was already aware of… I can touch more people by using the Internet. Not only me, but everyone have strong connection with social media, it’s the way we live nowadays.
我不認為“技術”扮演重要角色，但我認為，互聯網和社交媒體是吸引人們的最有效途徑。當我開始設計我的泳裝系列““John Yuyi Swimwear” 這是我已經知道的東西……我可以用快速和大眾傳播的消息，如互聯網接觸更多的人。不僅是我，但每個人都與社交媒體緊密的聯繫，這是我們現在的生活方式。
What’s next for you?
For 2017, I want to connect with more people to make some collaboration on art projects. Cities like London, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sydney, Beijing, Shanghai are on my bucket list!
What people say when you travel and you say “I’m from Taiwan”?
In New York, people asked me: “where are you from?” and I said “Taiwan”, they were “ok…” and the next second they forgot already! Hahaha! That’s New York. Sometimes New York was a bit superficial I would say.
The funny thing for me would be to ask to people, “guess where I come from?!”, I bet that in New York no one would find out “from Taiwan”! Sometimes people thought I was from Nepal… Taiwan is small so it would never come to their mind.
In Japan it’s different. Taiwanese are really into Japanese culture and Japanese do know about Taiwan so they have more input about Taiwan… I think it’s totally different compared to New York because people in Tokyo were more welcoming.
Fame. Do you think that you have changed or your friend changed?
No I don’ t think so. I’m still the same John Yuyi so I have the same friends.
Why are you more famous outside of Taiwan?
The audience in Taiwan is too small. The people paying attention to this kind of things is too few… Mainstream trends are very dominant here in Taiwan, from media point of view, magazines follow big trends only. For example, Japan has a lot more non-mainstream magazines, so Japanese are more interested in my experiments and projects. To be honest, I truly believe that Taiwan is really small therefore in terms of market size when you want to broadcast trends you need to engage the mainstream… Even in China it’s different. When you have Weibo for example, you can reach out a large number of people just with that social media. One people will like you work and someone in his/her circle will do the same… As they have a huge population, you can get a lot of attention rapidly… Size matters.
台灣觀眾太小。人們關注這樣的事情太少了……主流主導趨勢， 例如媒體，幾乎完全由主流雜誌主導台灣的趨勢。 日本有更多的非主流雜誌，使他們有興趣在我的實驗和項目。說實話，我真的相信，台灣市場的規模真的很小，因此當你要報導的趨勢需要傳遞到大眾，主流……即使在中國也不同的。當你有微博，就可以透過社會媒體傳達到大量的人。一個人喜歡你的創作，那個人在他/她的朋友圈也會喜歡的…因為他們有龐大的人口，你可以迅速得到很多的關注…觀眾大小很有關係。
Who are your greatest Art influencers?
First of all, since I’m kid I have been admiring the French sculptor, painter and filmmaker Niki de Saint Phalle. She was very pretty as a model and I also like her aesthetics in terms of Art. Her inspirations were crazy! In junior high school I was really into her because of her colorful fashion design style, as you know I like colors like my swimming suit collection!!
Then, I really like the artist Taro Okamoto because he did some installation art projects. “Art installation” is like Disneyland for me: when you see colorful, imaginative, crazy art pieces is so cool!
首先，當我還是小孩時我很欣賞法國雕塑家，畫家和電影導演Niki de Saint Phalle 。她很漂亮，她是一名模特兒 我喜歡她在藝術方面的美感，我瘋狂的受她的靈感啟發！在初中時我真的受她影響很大，我的時裝設計，我喜歡的顏色，如我創作的泳裝系列！
John Yuyi the “Artist” or John Yuyi the “Fashion Designer”?
John Yuyi是“藝術家”或約John Yuyi是“時裝設計師”？
I’m still a little girl so these titles are too much for me. I’m still doing projects, fashion design, graphic design, photography and stuff I like with my little resources. I prefer to be called a “freelancer”… It suits me better.