With a wide-ranging portfolio of work and well-developed style, Tae Won Yu has been an integral part of the Olympia, Washington, art community since the 90's. Learn all about what Tae Won Yu is up to in this recent interview.
Tae Won Yu has been in a recent issue of the Asian Pop Culture magazine, Giant Robot and developing his live portrait skills on the iPad. We found out all about it in the interview:
You do illustrations, posters, photography, collage...Tell me about some of the work you do and how you got started.
All my work stems from my love of drawing so I see the diversity as just an extension of that first impulse. From within, it blurs together, the categories have a function when dealing with the outside world but from the maker's point of view it's more like education—learning about myself and the world by mastering different techniques. Also I think being lost—not knowing what I was going to do with myself forced me to be adaptable and be a quick study so I just found myself moving from one job to the next picking things up along the way. I knew I wanted to be an artist but after 4 years of art school I had no idea how to go about doing that so I threw everything behind being in a band, moved to Olympia from New York during the early 90's and played in the punk scene that revolved around K Records, Kill Rock Stars, etc. As bands required graphic design assistance I jumped in to help and over time I became more of a visual artist than a musician.
I saw on your blog some amazing paintings you did on your iPod touch using the brushes app. Was it difficult to create
the pieces this way? Do you see using technology as a new field for art?
What's most interesting to me about making drawings on the iPod, iPad, etc. is that there's no history or tradition to this medium—technique wise. Digital artists using Photoshop can bring some of their tools but it's really a new environment so you have to invent your own style and process. Unlike Photoshop, the brushes app on the iPod is limited just enough to make you clumsy so you are forced to work with more accidents. And finally, two things that are utterly new is the ability to draw in the dark and sketch on the subway without your subject realizing he or she is being drawn! I think on those points alone, the iPod drawing medium is revolutionary.
Your 'Sealed with a kiss.' Wisconsin February 2011 is quite political. Do you often approach current events or politics in your work?
No, I'm generally disinterested in politics but what was happening in Wisconsin was such a blatant attack on the very humanness of showing respect for your fellow man and woman it made me furious and I wanted to add to the collective picture of how people viewed Scott Walker in 2011.
Tell us about your favorite show/event you were involved in.
Playing at the International Pop Underground Festival in 1991 was a seminal event for me. It was the furthest I had been from New York since moving there from Tokyo. The downtown of this small town in the Pacific Northwest was taken over by punks and pop nerds from around the world for a week. The energy and creativity was palpable and inspiring, it made me redirect my focus after that experience. And seeing Fugazi, Nation of Ulysses, Mecca Normal, and the Mummies and playing shows for kids who were going apeshi*t on youth and noise just blew my mind.
Tell us a little about your article for Giant Robot. It was great.
Martin Wong and I are friends from the band's touring days and we reconnected after 10 years as I was preparing for my retrospective show in Portland. He and his partner Eric Nakamura have made a real life out of something that they invented and helped so many artists along the way—I was honored to be asked to be included in that issue. (Issue 68)
What are your current and upcoming projects?
I'm going to be doing street portraits on an iPad with the Drawing Center and the New Museum at an arts festival in May so I'm practicing my live portrait skills.
Is there anything else you want to mention?