Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Conversation With the Wonderfully Talented Artist Andrew Yang

I've admired Mr. Yang's work for quite some time now and recently worked up the courage to ask him for an interview:) He kindly said yes and since reading his answers, he is now a source of inspiration on so many levels I did not imagine coming. I am inspired to work and dream again. Hope you'll feel the same after reading this. Enjoy!

Full Name: Andrew Yang

Occupation: Doll/Dream Maker

Current Location: Brooklyn New York

Tell me a little about yourself growing up? and how you ended up where you are today.
I spent most of my childhood in various parts of Utah, Orem, Provo, and then eventually Salt Lake City. My neighborhood was called Sugarhouse. Being one of seven children was a lot of fun, you're basically born into a little tribe of friends. I guess I was the storyteller of my family. I was excitable, passionate, and imaginative, making up stories all the time. I was always drawing, and more interested in art than anything else, but always happened to be better at drawing pretty ladies in pretty dresses. Which is what led me to fashion, and then New York.

When you were little, what did you spend most of your time doing?
Playing and drawing. Making little horror movies and stop action films with Barbie dolls. Running around Salt Lake trying to break into old houses to find lost treasure. I was obsessed with finding secret undiscovered places. Illustrating countless little books and stories that I still intend to publish someday. I remember dancing a lot. There was always music and dancing and playing on the trampoline.

What made you become an artist? What influences did you have?
My parents did a lot to pave my way into being an artist. Even though we didn't have a lot of money growing up, I was always enrolled in extra art classes because I think they knew that the hour of drawing lessons I was getting once a week wasn't doing it for me in elementary school. I did everything from textiles, stained glass, sculpture, and also a lot of theater.

Did you go to art school or alike?
I went to The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. I thought fashion would be a good way to be an artist and be able to make a living. But then I found the fashion school experience to be quite painful. I quickly took what I needed to learn from it, the sewing, pattern making, and draping aspects, and then was quite bored. I pushed myself in my illustrating abilities, but had already developed a heavy handed signature style that never quite qualified as being a floaty fashion illustration. Everyone told me that my fashion work was more like costume design, but when I had been working in costume design in years prior, everyone told me to work in fashion. I was confused. But I was a hard worker and had my head on straight, which meant that I could get a fashion job in New York.

You make the Most beautiful dolls I've ever seen! Let's talk about them.


How do you go about creating your dolls (including the designer clothes they're wearing)? How is the creative process?
Well, in the beginning it's not very creative. I work in a very production line style when I'm making all the doll bodies; tracing, cutting, and sewing components for anywhere from 50-100 dolls at a time. Then it goes into stuffing and assembling, and then I get to the fun part.

Depending on the order, I work from a picture off the runway for my 'editorial' collections. I source the fabrics in the garment district, but take a lot of liberties in terms of altering it from the original. I think of my dolls as 3D fashion illustrations, but on doll terms. As a doll collector I know what feels good to hold, to handle. I try to capture the essence of the runway look without copying the look literally.

But the doll is really nothing until she has her face and her clothes.

I think I've read somewhere that all your dolls have their unique stories, tell me about that?
Oh yes. That was something I wanted to work on from the beginning. Most of the dolls in my signature collection have stories. I feel like I have more ideas and stories than I'll ever have time to make dolls.

Even when I first started making fashion dolls I wanted to do little model stories for them, but then my orders got to be a bit overwhelming and I didn't have any time. But, I like to think whoever takes home the doll will create their own story.

Other than being a designer and creating dolls, do you explore other creative areas?
Yes, I am working on an illustrated children's book. I do a bit of fashion styling and artistic direction for music videos and editorial, mostly for my friends. I am dabbling in performance art with my dolls.

What influences inspire your work today?
What influences don't inspire my work?

A typical day for you, how does it look like?
I wake up, answer emails, update my website, work out, clean, take care of my cat, and then walk to my studio (ten minutes away....I'm so lucky!) and do whatever work I set out for myself to complete that day. Whether its sketching, sewing, face painting, or hair sewing. I work straight until late in the evening, and then go back home. I try to keep a pretty rigid schedule, most of my socializing has been relegated back to the weekends.

Some random questions now...:)

What is your life mantra?
Be your dreams.

How would your perfect day be like?

Secret Talents?
Hmm...My roommate calls me a "freestyle chef." I think of it as "improvisational cooking." I love creating a gourmet masterpiece when there's nothing in the fridge.

If you could make one wish, what would it be?
That I could speak any language I want to whenever I want to.

Which movie have you recently seen that you would recommend?
BLACK NARCISSUS!! I am obsessed.

Favorite song at the moment?
"Apply" by Glasser.

Favorite location in this world? why?
My bedroom. Wherever it may be. But it has to be mine, even if I only rent it for a few weeks. I don't like hotels very much.

What makes you laugh?
My cat is a terrific comedian, he just doesn't know it.

What makes you angry?
Ignorance. People who don't work hard for what they are capable of. Waste.

Any news? Anything happening right now that you would like to share with us?
I'm working on several exciting projects-- there are more dolls in the works, including Limited Edition Kouklitas, and The Lovechilde (A collaboration between myself and illustrator J.David McKenney.) I am also working on an illustrated book, and a life size doll that will tour Hong Kong and Paris this time next year. I am also busy promoting the first short film I've conceptualized and co-directed with Neon Lighthouse creator Ramon J. Goni, titled Swoon Ephemere. It debuted on the Showstudio blog.

What are your plans for the future?
I want to create more art. I just got back from London, Paris, and Milan, and it seemed like everyone I met wanted to become famous. Everyone was a dj, a promoter, a fashion designer, or a rock star who thinks they are amazing, even though they spend more time doing every thing other than their work. It just made me want to lock myself in my studio and draw, and paint, and sew. I want to keep making films, keep telling stories.

You can view the Wonders of Andrew Yang here:






Shop his Work here:



Images top to bottom: Alexander McQueen doll created for Barneys New York,"Gaga" doll created for Showstudio Gallery, London, Alexander McQueen doll created for Barneys New York, Still from the film "Swoon Ephemere", Andrew working in his studio with Soteris Kallis, "who goes above and beyond the title "assistant"."

Thanks So Much Andrew!!!

Much Love
Linda Portman Sagum

And Last but Certainly Not the Least....Doll Dreams:

JOYCE Doll Dreams from NEON LIGHTHOUSE on Vimeo.

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