Interview: The Yok

“I was into MAD magazine and I used to try and draw like Don Martian” – The Yok

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The Yok is one man who, over time and thought, has become known to Trunk Junk as a talented, humble human being who is here to let his artworks do the talking.

Being the sole reason for the infamous King Brown coming into existence, a publication a solid bunch of us love so much, as well as being a renowned international street and illustrative artist, this visually orientated individual still has much constructive disturbance to inflict on an unsuspecting art scene.

Firstly Mr Yok, what essentials are a must for your Trunk? 

Well, it has been a while since I have owned a car, but if I was getting ready for an adventure I guess my surfboard would be the first thing I would try to stuff into my trunk.

Secondly, please tell us how you came up with your artist name? With a name like Trunk Junk, we’re always intrigued by interesting names.

The name is made up. I wanted a word that didn’t have a meaning, so the work I did under that alias would give it some meaning. I liked the letters and the idea of a name with an ‘O’ in the middle so that I could paint a character’s head in-between the two letters; even though that’s not really how I have been using it.

Being a well-travelled artist, how would you compare the Australian art scene to the rest of the world? 

Wow, that’s a tough question… Each country has their own scene going on, with their own benefits, disadvantages, styles and twists. It’s tough to compare it with the rest of the world. I would say it’s kicking arse and there are some super talented people down under.

How did you go about making some buddies to paint with when abroad?

I guess it’s just natural that when in a new town you hit up the local artists to help you find some walls and have a paint. I always try to return the favour when artists are travelling through my town.

Please name some of the artists you’ve worked with?

Last year (2011) I worked with Beastman, Phibs, Two-one, Sheryo, Roach, Daek, Reka, Creepy, Jose, Loser, Ayre, Fecks, Diva, Dlae and some that I can’t think of right now.

What came first for you, putting paint to walls in the great outdoors or illustrating on the computer? How did the artist in you kick things off?

Paint on walls came first, but before that, it was pen to paper and I have always drawn. Nothing really kicked it off. I was into MAD magazine and I used to try and draw like Don Martian who’s an artist in MAD.

You’re also a big fan of collaborations, the great outdoors getting a bit lonely?

Haha, there is nothing I like better than painting walls with friends, and sharing a beer afterwards…or during.

What’s been your favourite outdoor project and why?

My favourite outdoor project, hmmm…It would have to be when I recently did a painting on this dirty rooftop in Brooklyn/Bushwick. The roof was in this festive, Cuban neighbourhood in deep Brooklyn and there was rad music blasting out from one apartment. Dudes were playing dominoes on the street and gambling, homies were hanging on the stoop, some kids were flying kites on another roof, every now and then a train would rattle past, and I had some friends in town from Australia – Roach and Creepy. Those were good times.

When you first started creating, had the penny dropped yet with regard to the fact that the World is your oyster?

Not really sure. I think you can be successful no matter where you are if you are passionate about what you are doing.

At what point were you happy that you had your own style that you could take to the world?

I’m never really happy. I’m always judging myself and criticising my work, trying to make it better.

What was the first commissioned overseas trip that you ever did?

The first commissioned trip was to two cities in 2004. For one I was painting in a gallery in Hong Kong and then the other in Taipei.

How have you made your work accessible on an international scale? Being talented is one thing, but getting your work out to the world has to be quite a hurdle?

Travelling to countries, talking to local artists and painting walls with them. The Internet helps in a huge way, as well as magazine features and dropping stickers wherever I go.

So you’ve ventured far and wide, please tell us bubble children what the world is truly after visually?

Ha, I have no idea, people are into different things so it’s hard to pin it down to one thing. I guess that maybe they are just after Justin Bieber.

We all know you’re a print type of guy, you’ve shown this through a decent handful of cooler than cool editions of King Brown. Was creating your own magazine part of a natural progression in your design career? 

Yes, I guess so. It’s more fun than most graphic jobs and I have always wanted to make a magazine ever since I saw my first copy of Lodown Magazine.

What is your advice to, or what do you suggest to artists looking to make a statement that goes beyond blogging or posting online?

Work harder than the other guy, push yourself, read, travel, explore, and stop blogging, ha ha.

Please list five artists or people who have mostly influenced and inspired you over your career so far? 

AYEM crew, Twist, Kinsey, Mr Jago, Kid Acne, The Gonz, Reas – Todd James.

What is your ultimate goal as an artist?

To be able to stay one.

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For more from The Yok, visit his website.

Browse the Trunk Junk collection; maybe even pick one out for yourself.

© Jonathan Boonzaaier 2016

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