Artist Yukai Du designs T-shirt together with Ayu (10) from Lombok. Read more about the process and the proceeds of this tee.
What does art mean to you?
Art is my life, my passion. The fire I have inside is there just to create art. It is hard to explain, I need art as breathing, it is part of my life, soul and body.
Did you always want to become an artist?
Yes, my father was also an artist. I was born in his painting studio, so since my very first day on this earth my path was already clear.
What was the first artwork that inspired you to become an artist?
I remember my father’s comic books, and I believed that visual language based on drawings was the best! I was obsessed with the Conan comic books, so those were my first source of inspiration.
Do you remember your first drawing? What did it represent?
Of course not, haha! We all start to draw intuitively at a really young, so it’s impossible to remember the first one. I do know that when I was already drawing consciously every day, my art was just different characters inspired on Lord of the Rings, Conan The Barbarian, Dragon Lance… Fantasy books, basically.
How important is it for you to express yourself through art? (When you were a child and in the present)
When I was a child I was not interested in expressing myself. I was using art to develop all the amazing stories I had in my mind. Now it is different, of course. I’m really interested in minorities, outsiders, or just the people that are considered less standard in our society. Now I use my art to give them a voice and show them with all their magic.
You are a self taught artist. How did you roll into it?
As I mentioned, my father was an artist for a while, so he was my teacher at home. That helped, and also to be strong and patient until I had found my place in the art scene.
How would you describe your work? What defines the Ricardo Cavolo style?
I think it is a mix of my love for early medieval art, the usage of symbolism, processing complex and adult subjects and all of that captured with a vibrant, powerful color palette.
What is your biggest source of inspiration?
I especially admire the medieval art. I love that eternal imagery full of symbols and hidden meanings. Outsider art and tribal art are also a huge source of inspiration to me.
You collaborate with big names in the fashion business such as Gucci, Alexander McQueen…what made you want to design a Face This T-shirt?
Recently, I have found the way to use my artistic activity to spread the messages I’m obsessed with: based on my interest in social politic situations. So this project fits perfectly with my way of working lately. I’m always honored when my art works for these types of projects. And these are the projects that make me feel completely happy and grateful.
How different was this project -with a Indonesian child’s drawing as a starting point- from other projects and collaborations? Did it require a different approach/working method than usual?
It is the first time I do something like that, but it’s been fun and interesting. I’m really fascinated by that naïve way of drawing kids have. All artists try to get back that way of working at some point, so being able to collaborate with a kid is just a dream. I just understood the vibe of the kid’s drawing, and the info Face This gave me was good enough to build something meaningful and still attached to the spirit of the kid.
The drawing you were assigned for the Face This T-shirt design is ‘Engki’: an angry, bad-tempered boy but with a good heart. What is your addition to his story?
I just wanted to emphasize on the primary meaning and story. When there’s a good story, it’s all about underlining it and giving it a stage to shine and prosper.
Are there other ways you use your art (or hope to use in the future) to make a difference in the world?
I’m pretty sure I will find more ways to do so. However, ‘making a difference’ is the main spirit of my activity, so I will find different ways to spread the message.
Do you have future projects you are excited about and want to share with us?
I’m about to open my new exhibition in Montreal. It is a collection of hand painted flags. But these flags, instead of representing countries or borders, are representing concepts and ideas to handle a revolution, to change things in our world. I’m really happy with this show 🙂
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