Tales From Sheryo and Yok
Sheryo and Yok have been on a tear, crushing walls and creating captivating installations around the world, prepping for shows here in the US, and recently meeting with our friend Bill Dunleavy of Superchief Gallery for a studio visit and interview. The duo pulls inspiration from the wild world they travel, including spiritual, Sailor Jerry-esque classic tattoo, and psychedelic imagery. They pick their opportunities with intention, growing and exploring with each new wall and new city. Read below to hear about their recent move to Costa Mesa, their upcoming projects, and some tales from the proverbial "road."
Bill Dunleavy: Hey Sheryo and Yok! It's been a while since you've been in LA! What brings you to Costa Mesa, how has it been for you so far?
The Yok: Spray tans and chasing botox beauties. We set up shop in a garage and it has been a very productive time.
Sheryo: Ahhh Costa Mesa! never thought I'd be here but never say never! we needed some studio time after being on the road for a year and a half, our friend had a spot she was seeing the lease out, and it had a sweet garage.. we also have no friends here so no distractions, 88.5% productivity sessions.
What did you guys do while you've been out here? Any good exhibitions? Fun adventures?
S: Scrawled some caveman gems with a killer group of peoples in a decommissioned mine with a lot of cave-ins. Magic shrooms, stolen jamos, microdoses of LSD, in between cave paint time, art shows at Superchief, twerk dances, short trips to NY (where I met Sauceman), and another short trip to Seattle for more large-scale sprays with Sodotrack. That kind of concludes the last 4 months before we hit the road again.
Y: We went to the mountains and explored an old gold mine with some good peeps. We camped in the mountains and then drove down into the desert and spray danced in an abandoned air force base. Pretty hard to beat that. As for good shows, a highlight was the Hammer Museum's Made in L.A, some very inspiring work in there. We both loved the installation by Candice Lin and the piece by Aaron Fowler, there were so many good works, definitely worth a visit.
You've always been ones to change up your styles and color palettes. The newest style on this body of work looks like a lot of reds, whites and blacks, and a mix of raw line work overlaid with cleaner illustrations. Can you tell me what you're experimenting with, and how this new style came about?
S: We actually adopted that "red-white-black-gold" color palette pretty early on, partly due to Yok's partial color-blindness (and partial fear of colors hah!) and our traveling habits. We then started experimenting with other colors for about a year, but found out we still very much preferred the old palette. It just goes so well with our Southeast Asia-meets-Western-culture style. This new looseness reflects our current state of mind, I like to think each body of work is a representation of certain points/phases in our lives. These works with the new looseness reflect our current state of mind; displacement issues, bleak events ongoing now, beach life, waves, we are also using a lot more red than we used to.
Y: Our color palate has been dictated by necessity and traveling, being on the road and normally on a busted up rental bike in Southeast Asia. You can always find black, red and white in any mum and pops hardware store in most corners of Asia. Gold is a color we lifted from Southeast Asia in our very first paintings together and has been a mainstay ever since. We were heavily influenced by the temples we visited there and we think the gold adds a great flavor to our artwork.
Y'all have been on global spraycation for a while now. Where have you been this year, and what's on the docket for next year?
This year we were in Shanghai, Dresden, Florida, Stockholm, Mumbai, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Australia, Bali, California and headed to Moscow next, and hoping to visit Lisbon, Papua New Guinea, Cuba, Peru.
How do you feel about street art being about a decade into it, and what changes have you noticed in that world?
S: Street art has thrived so much and come so far! I would never have thought 10 years ago that I could be making a living out of this, It's a fucking dream come true! I like painting on the streets because it allows me to get to know a neighborhood like a true local in a short period of time, something you can't get as a tourist. The connections that have come from painting walls are real, and it's so fun meeting people from all walks of life whose paths you would never have crossed if not for painting a wall in their neighborhood. There is still a stigma for galleries to show street artists works though, and I hope this changes down the line.
Y: Street art escalated from stickers, stencils, and posters, to artists painting huge buildings. I love to see that progression. I can't wait for what will happen in the next decade. Artists are producing so much work, and so fast, it's great to see each artist pushing the next one to improve, go bigger, and get better.
Which galleries are your favorites around the world these days? And what would you say are the best and worst things about working with galleries as professional artists?
S: We prefer working with people we know and have formed a relationship with throughout the years. Superchief gallery boys are good homies!
Y: Superchief, because it feels like a clubhouse, a welcoming place where everyone can hang out. The family and the community is the best part.
Do you have any favorite substances/drugs to use while making art?
S: My brain's a drug.
Y: I have never done any substances.
Tell me about some of the larger installations you've been building, and which ones you're hoping to build soon.
S: We would really love to build a skatepark someday, as well as a permanent rooftop clubhouse, boats/island made out of all that shitty single-use plastic, a weird Lamborghini shack, temples, Fengshui dragon, the list goes on...
Y: We're headed to Moscow next to build a temple that celebrates being "offline"
Photos by BIll Dunleavy and Geoff Fortune