It's good to be Yung n' Dum...
(Bleached Jeans by Yue Wu)
Instagram is home to many artists. Some carefully calculate every move they make on the app, while others post what they feel as they feel it, or upload whatever they happen to create in their spare time. Regardless, if you use the app frequently and post with the desire to reach other users, chances are you have run into problems with the app over the past few years. Instagram saw the most changes, censorship, and imposed user limitations of all the social media apps ever since it was acquired by Mark Zuckerberg and company, but no amount of algorithmic experimentation is a match for art that truly stands out.
Sure, the general reach a user has towards their followers is intentionally limited to encourage users to sponsor their posts. Posts are no longer in chronological order on a user's feed, and that same feed is flooded with ads, but anyone who has spent at least five years using the app must know by now that the basis of Instagram’s algorithm is to be a digital representation of the “word of mouth” phenomenon. If one person likes something, eventually others will end up seeing it, so beneath the spammable content like self-help "tips", memes, and pseudo-news media pages lies a plethora of talent that has bypassed it all, proving that good dope sells itself.
(Beach Circle Sparke by Yue Wu)
One of these talents is Yue Wu (@yung_n_dum), a 22-year-old Canadian freelance illustrator with an insanely beautiful and provocative retro anime art style. She represents a notable internet success story wherein her casual sharing of her talents led to a real-life career. We had the privilege of conversing with her to dive into the mind behind the work.
First, let’s start with an introduction for the people. Who are you, and how would you describe what you do?
My full name is Yue Wu, but you can just call me Yue. Most of my works are anime-styled illustrations. I also started making animations in recent years. However, I wouldn’t consider myself an animator.
(Miku Desktop by Yue Wu)
How long have you been visually creating?
I’d say since childhood, like 5-6 years old. I did drawings of my favorite anime characters and created a bunch of OCs [original characters]. I looked through old sketchbooks that I still keep around recently, and I noticed there were mostly incomplete pencil sketches with a lot of anime eyes scattered on the pages.
(Untitled by Yue Wu)
What first made you want to draw, and then, what made you say to yourself “I want to keep doing this”?
I think because I always drew and my surroundings gave me a lot of praise and support, I kept drawing, but I was always uncertain if it was a sustainable job. I think it was when I reached my twenties and started to get bigger commissions that I realized that I could do this for a living.
What are your go-to methods (For example, digital creation over hand-drawn creation)?
Most of my recent works are all digital. Sometimes, I start with sketching on paper because
it’s quicker for me to get my ideas down on paper. I have more grip and control of the strokes on paper compared to the smooth surface of the tablet. Then I scan the rough sketches to render the drawing on Photoshop or Clip Studio.
(Love No Jutsu by Yue Wu)
Who are your main influences? Who or what inspires you the most?
I can’t name all of them, but I’d say the ones that come off the top of my head are Yoshiyuki Sadamoto, Naoko Takeuchi, CLAMP, and Hisashi Eguchi. They really kick-started my art style. I take inspiration outside of the anime sphere like fine arts, photography, and fashion. I’ve discovered a lot of amazing artists on Instagram, and I think they also have a significant impact on my artistic choices, especially at the moment like @dodleyz, @littleniamh, @aokabisaya, @niptong, @okniceok.
Do you have any specific routine or things you must have present that create the right setting and get you in the right mood to create?
A lot of ideas come when I listen to music actually. I kind of envision the whole drawing as I listen to songs. Then I create a mood board to form a coherent aesthetic and color palette. After that, it's more of a technical process.
You have a dedicated following on Instagram, always happy and eager to see you post new art. Do you remember any specific pieces you posted during your early days that you saw made your page gain traction?
I’ve been on Instagram since 2011, and I thought it was a photo filter app. I only used it because I thought the filters were neat, so I posted a bunch of photos with heavy filters. Then I realized that it was an actual social media app where you can interact with other accounts like gain followers and follow others. I saw people posting their works and have tons of followers. So I thought that it should be pretty easy for me to have a following because my 12 y/o self was pretty confident in her skills. But, in reality, it's not that easy. You have to post consistently to gain a big following, and there are also a lot of other factors that play into it. In 2015, I noticed an increase in my following because I think my work was on the explore page a lot. It was also when I started to develop a distinctive retro anime style.
What are your most memorable commission works up to date?
I have to say being part of the Jean-Paul Gaultier Logo Collection. As someone who takes interest in archival fashion, it feels surreal to me even now. I also want to add OuiOui just because we’ve been working for so long and in a way grew together.
(Cherry Soda by Yue Wu)
Who is the music group OuiOui? How and when did you connect?
OuiOui is an indie group with two members Blueny and Meijee based in South Korea. They make mostly RnB songs. We connected via email but I’m pretty sure that they found me on Instagram. It’s an honor working with them.
(OuiOui Cover Art by Yue Wu)
What’s next for @yung_n_dum?
The next step is to find a job, haha. I want to continue to work as a freelancer, but I also want to try a full-time contract job. One thing is for sure, the past five years have been pretty busy with school. I was only posting on average a work every 3 months, and I’m finally graduating for good, so I’ll finally have more time for my personal projects.
(Logo-ltier by Yue Wu)
Catch Yue exclusively on Instagram, and trust that every time she posts, it's a banger.
Until Next time!