YO YO! My name is Oscar Joyo, I’m a multi-disciplinary artist based here in Chicago.I work in both digital and traditional media. I’m originally from Malawi, Africa but I’ve been in the states for about 17 years. I enjoy mixing and matching subjects that I enjoy together to create new perspectives and potential hybrid topics. I continue to push to be a better artist and person each day by creating and witnessing the world around me.
When did you first start getting involved with art?
I’ve been drawing since I was a child. My mom recalls me drawing on walls. Most of my family members were musicians but they would doodle small things to make me happy. I would try to copy them and do better than them. I remember vividly being drawn into shows like Rugrats, Saber Riders, and Power Rangers and trying to emulate that but what really got me was seeing Disney’s Tarzan and how visually astonishing it was. However, when I moved to the US and discovered more cartoons, especially anime like Dragonball Z, I knew I wanted to draw stuff like that. Like many black kids I grew up with, you were on track to be a great artist if you knew how to draw Goku. Since then, I’ve used art as an outlet and a way for me to connect with people, especially being socially awkward growing up. It was a common ground that could start a conversation….even if the person says they only know stick figures, it’s still something.
From a young kid to your SR year of college, you only created ‘traditional art’. You said you got to a point where you felt like your pieces were missing something. What led you to that realization?
Around 2007 when I got introduced to digital art from a friend… I thought it was really fascinating drawing on a computer screen and not getting your hands dirty. Since then, I’ve been trying to balance both traditional and digital art styles until my sr. year of college. I’ve always wanted to see how the two mediums would work together so I used it on a piece called “Grapevine” for a Canvas Wines scholarship. Using digital helped intensify my palette, and add things quicker than how I would do it traditionally. Plus, I could animate if I wanted to, which was a big factor in why I tried to incorporate digital as much as I can.
Not being from Chicago, how have you enjoyed your time being within the art community here?
Haha, I really love Chicago and I’ve always seen myself living here since I was a kid.The people are very cool here and the friends, creatives, and vets that I’ve gotten to know and befriend are some of the most genuine crop of people I know. I do have my issues, of course, the weather and the politics but there is a sense of community ESPECIALLY when times get tough. I hope to find a way to stay here and blossom.
Has the scene influenced you to try out new styles?
Yes, it has! One of the biggest things was animation. Not a lot of people are accustomed to the fact that Chicago has some extremely talented animators. After being influenced by friends who use animation as a tool to enhance their pieces, I too used it in my work. Another one which I want to get familiar with is spray painting. The culture for spray painting and mural work is massive. I wouldn’t have thought how much can be done with using a can of paint and some brushes. It’s another world I want to dive into next. And, lastly would be augmented reality and seeing things in a different perspective which is the biggest thing Chicago’s art scene has taught me.
It seems like most of your work revolves around music, anime, and film…
Haha, yeah like a huge majority of the time. Those are what I generality consume the most as far as inspiration. I’ve always had music playing in the house but I’ve always wanted to conjure visuals for a song I listen to. How would a scene or picture start with this beat right here or what color would that roaring guitar be? And film and anime have such vivid stories and beautiful imagery. It’s been what I’ve been thinking about when I create new work most of the time. Some scenes have nothing going at all but how it’s shot or acted makes a huge difference to me. Anime was incredible stuff for an outsider like me. It’s explosive, energetic, and has this sense of style like flashy, yet calm. I don’t know how to put it but it brings me back to a time in my life where I discovered it for the first time. So together, I’ve wanted to create images with a sound to back it. Image that is as animated as a scene from the craziest movie ever.
There are so many pieces I want to dive deep into the meanings of. Lets first start with Florasia
Florasia was one of the pieces I did during my final weeks of college. This was a do-over from the first Florasia which was more allegorical and a homage to pre-raphaelites and art nouveau. My original intent was to do a piece of my friend surrounded by flowers, which was more of an elemental motif but at the start of the new one, I thought it was cliche.
Instead, I retooled it to be my friend’s head splitting to reveal a pixelated flower. The flower to me resembling personality traits of generosity, kindness, and positivity but being pixelated brings it newer context.This was the first time experimenting with animation and applying it to traditional media. I thought that felt more like it came from me rather than ripping it from older painters.
Second, SHIFT 1.1
SHIFT 1.1 was done within the same headspace as Florasia with the head split. I wanted to keep pushing my technical abilities in addition to working on my glitch concepts. Originally, the head had nothing inside it, which to many people can take it as being void of emotion or empty-headed. However, I had a hard time finding a way to conclude the piece. About a year later, I included the patterns as a homage to my African heritage. I thought patterns could better inform the characteristics and personality of an individual and they have their own story to tell. Together, it made SHIFT into SHIFT 1.1 and the point 1 was there to show that I’ve worked on pieces more than once, months or years after the fact. Also, it was a Kanye reference.
And lastly, XTAL
XTAL was done when I was brainstorming for my Inktober topic for 2016. At that point, I was inspired by making a story about a woman trapped in space, trying to make her way back home. However, she was exposed by the elements of space and transformed her into an alien. That idea stemmed from stories, comics, and music I’ve experienced that really made me think of a story like that or an arc about her and her upbringing. It also stems from coming to the US and my everyday experiences, however, having someone who was once human come back as otherworldly. What would people think, would they accept her for what she has become or shun her.I hope to revisit this story one day when I have a better grasp on writing a story. Back to the drawing. This drawing was also playing around with taking traditional into digital again. It gave me different options, and possible decisions I could take a drawing into, like a different planet. It only reinforced the story I created and what I could do with it when it’s time to revisit it.
Looking at a few of your pieces, are you looking to make your way into animation?
I want to make my way as an animator one day or at least do something with effects and augmented reality. Animation is extremely tedious and time-consuming but at the end of it, you get to see what I’ve created have a life of its own. Honestly, I wouldn’t have thought that I would be using that at all since I wasn’t inclined to draw multiple frames but again, my friends made me enjoy it and study what makes a picture move. I do want to do a short film sometime down the road when I get a better grasp and more focused but in the meantime, I’ll be adding them into my drawings.
For me it’s like this, having my work being seen in real life vs. a computer is like an album experience vs. the live show experience. I want people who view my work to have different areas of observation when seeing them from a screen to a gallery. It should be a new world that you enter into every time.