We first fell in love with D. Yee’s work through his cinematic photos. Yee has that ability to take slices of life and make them appear like silent scenes out of a movie. Looking through his website, you’ll find that Yee is also a very talented artist. Whether it’s through his smooth acrylic paintings or through his simple but stunning ballpoint pen drawings, Yee invites us to explore our emotions, however complicated they might be. It’s no wonder this his website is called Art Without Words. Truly, you must experience it for yourself to fully appreciate its lasting effect. We were able to get in touch with Yee to ask him some questions. Read our interview, below, after getting lost in his emotionally charged art.
How did you get introduced into art? What started you down that creative path? I’m not sure what introduced me to art, in general, but I know what introduced me to the art of drawing. Drawing at a very young age, from what I remember, was my way of passing time and a means for attracting people to speak to me. I was a very shy kid in school and drawing was my only strength if not showing off my latest LEGO model at show and tell. My interest and appreciation in and for art history came a lot later and so did the realization of a creative path. Can you please describe your art to us? They seem powerful and full of emotion… This part is always the challenging part, I feel. It’s not because I don’t have the answer(s) to my work, it is because I feel that my work has come a long way based on my point in life. Not that any of it reflects a part of my history, but it reflects my thinking and narrative based on life, things around me, people, society. I try to speak little of my work and that it would leave a nice open field of stories to the viewer. Good, bad, strange, beautiful, bizarre, or way off the radar. What’s your favorite piece and why? There are a few, but one that continues to feel quite personal is Feels Like Floating Balloons (4th in this post). It was drawn and painted (digitally) in 2007. I don’t quite remember what was the story was, but it was about an individual who finally allows himself to fall for whatever he was fighting and allow himself to get back up later when he is ready again. Like a fighter who is defeated, but never gave up. The title to the piece came much later when an acquaintance contacted me me to use that specific painting for one of his poems titled as is. The titled struck nicely to the piece and I told him that. I later re-painted Feels Like Floating Balloons on canvas with acrylics in 2009. Whether or not it was “meant to be” with timing, I had painted in accordance to another one of my dismal moment in my life. The whole process of working on that painting felt truly and honestly cathartic and therapeutic. With that, it has likely reinforced my personal favoritism for it. We first found you through your photography on Flickr. Do you prefer art or photography? What about each do you love? I cannot choose from one other or the other. Both my art and photography plays hand in hand with each other and I like that neither of them lose its prominence in my life while, professionally, I like to separate myself of one and the other. I don’t try to showcase myself as both a painter and photographer. I choose to present myself as one or the other. They’re both are media of art that I can express the human emotion. Nonetheless, my drawings and paintings will sometimes, if not most, influence what I may be shooting for my next photo shoot. Drawing and painting forces me to think a bit differently. Kind of like working on various math equations for a result. There is certainly an instant gratification with photography than stretching a canvas, priming the linen, and so forth. Someone once told me that most photographers are formerly disgruntled painters. That they gave up painting for the instant gratification than endured labor. To me, it depends on how one wants to pursue his or her tool. There is certainly a gratification with working on a piece of work over a period of time. I have come across some photographers (and I speak of established ones for this example) who draw and, if any, paint, to inspire a photograph idea. Even if they are simple scrappy looking doodles. Tim Walker (draws and finds clippings to place his ideas – his photography book has a fantastic look into these scrapbooks), Guy Bourdin (if you can find any that are published; I’ve only found scraps of them), Miles Aldridge (he has a whole book published of his fun and interesting drawings), and I’m sure there are others. Oh, and Steven Klein, of course. One of my favorites. He had studied painting before moving to photography. Having seen those drawings fascinate me more than the results sometimes. This gives me an appreciation for both the art of drawing, painting and photography on the same plane. Is there any piece of advice you’d give to aspiring artists? Just go for it. You will fall a little, but get right back up. Stronger. Just don’t give up. Thank you for the interview, D. D. Yee