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DO: Interview with Zoe Yibowei

Here we welcome our new arts editor, Zoe Yibowei, to AYLY with a showcase of her work. She chatted to us about the energy and emotions behind her art, the need for more offline platforms for artists of colour, and her greatest inspiration: her mum!

What work have you chosen to share with us?

I've decided to go for the "Do" series - that was all based on the etymology of the verb and was aimed at increasing productivity for people stuck in art blocks. I'd also like to share my 50 Years in Soho project which was a construction hoarding design based on representing the historic groups in Soho (LGBTQIA, East Asain communities, etc) who helped shape it into the place it is today. Finally, the branding I did for a Nigerian street food brand in Brixton!

What drives your creativity?

Mainly other people – the energy and emotions others feel, and the emotions I have for them in return give me this impulse to make art – about them, for them. Creating visual counterparts for different forms of art, like music (e.g. album covers, events flyers), for my friends that are musicians also helps me understand their art. I also like representing things in unorthodox ways – deconstructing them and exploring them helps me to learn more about the world – it’s a big learning experience and hugely therapeutic. The more I create, the more I learn about myself.

How important is it that more artists of colour are given platforms to 'do' and make?

Immensely. In the digital age it is getting a lot easier to gain exposure through sites like Instagram and Tumblr, but having real, physical things like magazines, meet ups and workshops make those connections much more genuine. Net art is great and I think that it’s an excellent parallel to real world platforms, however people of colour still need more spaces in which they are free to make art that represents them – this is usually easier online, as it allows distance between the artist and hateful criticisms. Because of this, it’s important that we have more “real world” spaces and platforms for AOC’s (artists of colour) to produce work.

Who is your biggest inspiration (artistic or otherwise)?

I’d say my biggest inspiration just in general is my mum. It sounds so corny but she is my whole world – she came to the UK when she was my age and built her self up from virtually nothing while looking after me and is now really prominent in the art world. She really is incredible! Artist wise, its constantly changing – I’m always inspired by new young talent found on Instagram or other sites. However, I remember watching the ninja anime “Naruto” by Masashi Kishimoto when I was a kid and thinking “wow, this whole universe was in his head, he envisioned it, and he made it a reality”. I found it amazing that he had thought out every last detail, plot line, costume and character – a series spanning 15 years, and I remember wanting to do something similar.


Check out more of Zoe's work on her website!

To contact her or another member of the team about submitting to us, click here.

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