The Modern Alien, Kendra Yee
This article was originally posted on my old blog, OH! Parasite, back in 2013.
At only 17 years old, Kendra Yee has already developed a prominent online presence. Her doodles, regularly uploaded to her blog Dumb Drawings, as well as her unique comics featured on Rookie Mag, have attracted the attention of thousands. I had the great pleasure of interviewing this up and coming artist about her past, present, and future in art.
Grace: On your blog you describe yourself as a "17yo alien from Toronto." What planet are you originally from?
Kendra: It's only a few light years away, you turn left at the moon. It's quite similar to here except, the colours are more vibrant and the sky is always filled with stars.
G: Have you always drawn?
K: I don't remember a time when my hands weren't stained with ink!
G: Walk us through your creative process. What do you use to create and what inspires you?
K: It changes from piece to piece. I usually seek inspiration through people or places around me. I love to draw on the subway or people watch at cafes. Sometimes I have no direct influences or process at all. I just recreate the images and creatures that I see in my head. Spontaneous imagery!
G: Many of your drawings appear quite personal. Is it difficult to share such personal or intimate thoughts online?
K: For me, the drawings on my blog are less personal than the ones I create in my sketchbook. Most of those drawings have been inspired by conversations that I have heard from other people rather than my direct thoughts or experiences.
G: You have developed quite a following on Tumblr through your blog Dumb Drawings (previously Unadoptable). Has this influenced your work at all? Do you feel more inspired, or perhaps inhibited by, your followers?
K: It still freaks me out that I have "followers." I'm so used to flying under the radar at school. My followers definitely inspire me! The internet has allowed me to meet so many cool people.
G: Who has influenced your work throughout the years?
K: So many I can't even list! A lot of the artists that I follow on tumblr have inspired me.
G: You are currently a contributor to Rookie Mag! Has this role come to effect your creative processes or artistic subject matter in any way?
K: Rookie Mag is the coolest job. They're the most inspirational people and I'm so thankful to be working with such bright women. I have learned so much from them! Working for Rookie has pushed me to become more involved with design and creating illustrations for clients. I never worked on "proper" comics but now, I'm able to have one published every month.
G: Can we expect a bound collection of your drawings in the future? Or perhaps a small comic book?
K: Hopefully! I've created a zine and I hope to work on another one during the summertime.
UPDATE 5/20/2017: Yee has since made many zines. Check them out on her online store.
G: You are still quite young and yet show great promise. Do you have any big plans for the future? A dream job you're pursuing, perhaps?
K: Ahh I don't want to think about the future! I might study illustration next year. I just want to show my work in galleries or magazines and collaborate with interesting people. I'm just seeing where the future will take me.
I like to ask a couple of random questions that don't really pertain to anything. That way readers can get to know you a little more. These are like rapid-fire questions – it's all about your gut response – so don't think about them too long.
G: If you were a superhero, what would your name and superpower be?
K: Tough. Maybe Kiki cause that's my nickname. Is the power to "draw stuff that will come to life" cheating? If so, then probably something simple but practical, like flying or stopping time.
G: You can have dinner with anyone (dead or alive). Who would you eat with?
K: I would need a very long dinner table: Frida Kahlo, Jean Michel Basquait, Henry Darger, Grimes, Beyonce, David Shrigley, Bjork, the Rookie crew, the list goes on and on !
G: If you found a magic lamp with a genie in it, and were granted three wishes, what would you wish for?
K: A gallery that I could run for underprivileged youth, an endless amount of art supplies and a house/ studio filled with potted plants.
G: Exotic food you'd love to try?
K: Fish and shellfish. I'm allergic to fish but, I really wish I could have a bagel with cream cheese and smoked salmon.
G: If you could be any mythological creature, what would you be?
K: I'm an alien, why would I want to change???
G: Favorite film of all time?
K: Again, tough. I either like coming of age-super-cheesy or killing-action-corruption movies. Big fan of Mystery Train, Submarine, Inglorious Bastards, Ghost World, The Departed and Fight Club.