Artist Yeye Weller about working with our kids’ drawings: “I think it's pretty charming to be naive”
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We’re proud to announce to you that Yeye Weller is our artist of the month! Yeye’s clean and colorful artworks are everywhere: in The New York Times, walls in London, skateboards and of course: T-shirts! In fact, for Face This, Yeye designed two tees, a sweater and a tote bag, by collabing with some Indonesian kids from the Duduk Atas school on Lombok, Indonesia. Get yours as soon as possible as the proceeds will contribute to the kids’ needy school.
Although Yeye has worked with the biggest brands in the world, he never collabed with children from Indonesia. In this interview we talk with him about this collab, but also about themes like recognition, how to stay creative and what he has learnt from working with the kids from the Duduk Atas school: “I think it’s pretty charming to be naive.”
Face This: Can you tell us something about your cultural background? Where did you grow up? Did you always like to draw?
Yeye Weller: I wasn’t the typical stay-at-home kid, who drew pictures for hours in his child’s room. I grew up in a small village in Germany and most of the time we stayed outside and did classic childhood things like playing football and roaming through the woods. But there was always a special interest for nice things. Since my early childhood I have collected stickers and beer mats and I love them until today. Later on, I started to collect all the ads of my favorite skate brands and this was also the starting point of being creative. It started very simple with filming our awkward teenage skateboard skills but it’s getting more and more every day. When I was about 14, I cracked a version of Adobe Photoshop and I immediately became addicted. Shortly after we sold our own produced T-shirts to friends and classmates and things took their course.
FT: Is there one drawing that you can recall from your childhood? What was it about?
Yeye Weller: Oh that’s a tough question. I don’t have a specific drawing in my mind. But most of my childhood drawings have been about spaceships and football. I can say that for sure.
Detail shot of the Yeye Weller x Face This collaboration.
FT: Are there specific moments in your life that made you decide to become an artist?
Yeye Weller: No not really. It was more of a process than a concrete decision. As a kid I always wanted to be a singer. I have never played an instrument and I cannot sing pretty well, but I like the fact of standing on a stage in front of a crowd. Today I am very glad that this dream didn’t come true and that I work as an illustrator in the background, right now. No spotlight, no crowd, no screaming. Just me, my studio and some good music.
FT: What do you like most about being an artist?
Yeye Weller: One of the nicest things of my job is that there is never a daily routine. Of course most of my days are really busy in the meantime. But for me it is a great privilege to be your own “boss” and have the freedom to organize the day by yourself.
FT: What is the biggest challenge for you, being an artist?
Yeye Weller: In my early life, everything I did was striving for recognition and maybe it’s still part of my work. But in the meantime I realized it’s not that important what others think about my work. A few months ago I saw an interview with Niki de Saint Phalle and she didn’t care what other artists had to say about her work. She just wanted to make the observer happy for a while. It sounds a little bit hackneyed but I think that’s what it’s all about.
FT: As an artist, do you have any dreams? Are there some goals you would like to achieve? Is there something you’re building up for?
Yeye Weller: Yes, of course. I think you should never stop dreaming, that’s the magic energy which pushes you every day. I think this “job” would be so boring if the feeling sets, to a state where you have achieved everything you wanted. At the moment I’m dreaming of doing some big things. Something far away from the digital or print section. It would be so nice to see my illustrations as big sculptures in the urban area. That would be a project that changes the whole thing.
FT: Pablo Picasso once said: ‘Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up’. How do you remain an artist? And do you have tips for non-artists to cultivate their inner child?
Yeye Weller: A really interesting point of view. I think everything in life is like cooking: if you prepare your favorite food day by day it gets boring sometimes. So keep your eyes open, love the new and care for variety. Besides that, the most important thing for everything you do in life is having fun. It doesn’t matter if you repair cars, write books or be an artist. Do it with love, be ambitious but don’t take it too seriously and don’t forget to laugh about the little things.
FT: You designed an artwork by using some of our Indonesian kids’ drawings. With the proceeds of your artwork, we will be able to provide the kids you’ve collabed with a playground. How important is playfulness for you as an artist?
Yeye Weller: Playfulness is the basis of everything creative. Think differently, don’t be narrow minded and have an eye for the little details. It’s pretty important. But on the other hand, all the ease and lightness would be nothing without hard work. It’s so important to have extensive skills and being a master of your craft to live out your creativity on point.
FT: When we reached out to you, what made you want to join?
Yeye Weller: There were so many reasons. First of all it’s always nice to work with kids and create a connection with people from the other side of the globe. Besides that, I´m aware of my privileged situation of growing up in Germany and I think it’s very important to help others where you can. And if I could help with my drawings, I just feel very lucky.
FT: When you received the drawings, what was your first reaction? What did you see in them? Can you describe them a bit for us?
Yeye Weller: It’s always nice to see the world through different eyes. That has always fascinated me. And I think childhood drawings bring this different point of view to another level. Little details become big, things which become normal over the years for us, are still exciting for kids and everything is more spontaneous and based on feelings. They don’t overthink things. And all these aspects are reflected in their drawings. I think it’s pretty charming to be naive.
FT: Can you tell us something about how you have experienced this collaboration?
Yeye Weller: The way of working was totally different to my usual working routine. Usually it always starts with listening to music and doodling on the paper and if I get something nice I digitize it with a Wacom tablet and Photoshop. But it was fun to get a totally different input and start something new based on these lovely drawings. I love colors, humor and balance. These are the three necessities for my work. So finally I tried to keep a balanced relationship between the clean Yeye Weller style and the rough drawings of the childrens. And I’m sure that these different styles fit great.
FT: To conclude, is there something you would like to say to the kids who made the drawings you’ve worked with?
Yeye Weller: First of all, I want to thank you for this collaboration and all the nice drawings you sent to me. It was really fun looking at these drawings. You did a good job. I hope you like my final artwork. I definitely tried my best. When I was younger I was always afraid of witches and bandits. Luckily I´ve gotten rid of those fears now. But I still have the fear of failure. But that´s very stupid. Defeats and failures are part of life and they mostly lead into a positive thing. Even if it may not seem so at the moment. So please do me a favor:
be brave and run the risk of making mistakes.
Yeye Weller’s artwork is available on tees, sweaters and tote bags. Go grab one as the proceeds support the Indonesian school from the kids who made the drawings.
So every month a new artist will drop an artwork he/she/they made by using our Indonesian kids’ drawings. And the artists we will be collaborating with within the coming months are truly exciting:
Wanna know exactly when? Want to read exclusive interviews with them? And do you wanna make a chance of nifty giveaways? Then sign up for our newsletter, by filling out the form below:
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