We sat down with Yis in anticipation of his release with us to ask about what inspires him, how he approaches murals, the ideas behind his work and much more:
Where were you born and where do you live now?
I'm born, raised, and lived in Philadelphia my entire life.
What are your earliest artistic memories?
I have vivid memories of being younger and piecing together the toys in my toy box to create new things. Clearly not much has changed, haha. Also my parents, my immediate family are all artists. I was lucky enough to be raised around art in a creative household.
How has your style developed over the years? Have you always used animals and fantastical settings in your work?
My style has definitely evolved over time and continues to grow. However, there's always been consistency in collaging reality with fantasy. In my work from years ago, my characters were a bit more minimal. Consisting of only a few elements and layers, I even use to describe them as cartoony. Now, my characters have expanded outward, as well as inward, to create their own infinite landscapes and environments. Composed of elements on top of elements, on top of elements. I talk a lot about that constant overlap and infinite inspiration. It's the reason why I incorporate the infinity symbol in a lot of my work. It's the idea of infinite inspiration, which is being inspired to inspire others. I also find that the reality portion of my painting has become more refined, as I continue to keep painting and keep practicing with new animals and elements of nature.
Could you tell us a bit about your piece, "Interlude," that we're releasing this week?
This was for a show I had with Thinkspace Gallery in LA last year. At the time, my featured characters were set more in nature, without the multi-layers that some of my more surreal characters have. There's a bit of serenity to them, including my color choice along with the use of the recurring cloak that revealed different natural environments. It's also around the time I started introducing the rose patterned wallpaper. The fox specifically is a creature that comes up a lot in my work, that and the wolf. Sometimes, the animals that I choose to focus on during a certain time have some sort of relation to how I feel or whatever is going on at that point in my life.
Are your paintings part of a shared universe or is each their own setting?
Good question...They all live under the same universe, but within separate galaxies which hold the potential for different solar systems.
What's a typical day in the studio like for you?
I'll put on a podcast or maybe music to get started. If I need to look at emails, I'll go through emails. I also have business responsibilities that are part of my studio practice like: checking social media, working with my studio manager, coming up with new ideas for the shop, etc. For the most part I'm working and painting all day long.
How does creating murals differ from your normal routine? Is there one you enjoy more?
Studio work and Mural work are both important to me. To be able to sit alone with my thoughts and work in the studio is bliss as well as painting large scale in the public eye. Mural painting has afforded me the opportunities to meet other painters and creative organizers that are impactful to my own creativity and inspiration. It's allowed me to travel, engage in different cultures, meet interesting people, and even bring awareness to a lot of important causes. I like them equally because I need both in my life.
What's your least favorite part of creating art? And your most favorite?
Honestly, the attention it puts on me. I wish I could just paint all day and do murals and let the art speak for itself. My favorite part of making art is the flow state I get into.
What's the most inspiring thing you've ever seen or read?
“The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz.