Share

The Geometric Illustrations of Yo Az

By Charles Purdy

The graphic designer and illustrator Yo Az works in a distinctive geometric style, creating beautiful, intricate vector images based on colorful combinations of shapes. We spoke to him about his work and inspirations.

Create: How do you describe your work?

Yo Az: It’s always difficult to describe one’s own work. I guess I like to break down objects into different shapes or colors. I enjoy transforming something basic into a multipliable geometric shape. I take inspiration from Cubism, among other artistic styles. I find it inspiring and stimulating to create something out of a multiplicity of geometric shapes.

Create: I’ve read that you studied advertising and are a self-taught artist; how did you make the switch to illustration as a career?

Yo Az: I started out studying visual communication. For me, the best way to illustrate an advertisement was with a drawing or a photograph. During the course of my studies, I began illustrating posters and flyers—I really enjoyed doing that and seemed good at it, and it became apparent that this was where my future was.

Create: Have you always drawn? How has your style evolved over the years?

Yo Az: I guess that just like every child I enjoyed drawing. Then when I was a teenager, things picked up, and I then around ten years ago I really became serious and developed a lot of material.

I think that, in general, when someone starts drawing, they first try to copy reality. Then, with time, you try to put on paper what you have in your mind. Also, I think the way I use Adobe Illustrator has shaped the way I draw—I’ve evolved by using Illustrator. I think more in terms of geometric shapes and in terms of harmony between different shapes.

 

Create: What are your primary influences and inspirations?

Yo Az: For me, Cubist artists such as as Braque and Picasso. Also Pop Art and Op Art. I can’t explain why, but Cubism really speaks to me. I also have no explanation as to why I first started drawing and designing in Illustrator (instead of Photoshop), but this steered me more into the geometric shapes reminiscent of Cubism.  

Create: Do you have any new inspirations these days?

Yo Az: There are always new inspirations. I take a lot of inspiration from traditional painting. I’ve recently become interested in the art of the tattoo, and I am expending my focus into my own photography as well.

Create: What about challenges you’re facing these days?

Yo Az: Evolving my work always remains a challenge—I think that this is a challenge for all artists. I also have an idea about creating my own clothing brand, but I still need to work on developing it.

Create: Describe your work process—do you work entirely digitally?

Yo Az: Sometimes I draw something and scan it; other times I do start in Illustrator (it depends on whether I have an instant idea in my mind or not). Then I use Photoshop at the end, to adjust colors. The majority of the work is done in Illustrator.

Create: What is your studio like?

Yo Az: My studio is my home. I live where I work. My city is Paris, and I am lucky enough to have my own place with a window on a garden. It’s nice, tranquil, and light. I sort of live my work, so in my home, aside from my computer, there isn’t much more than a bed and a sofa.

Create: Describe an ideal workday.

Yo Az: I wake up at a pleasant, not too late hour. I take a walk; during that, I check my email and think and organize my day. Then when I return home, I start working on the current project or projects right away, switching later in the day to something else like drawing a draft or trying to find something interesting for my next project.

Create: Who’s on your client list?

Yo Az: I have been lucky enough to work for clients like Sony Music, Nike, Marvel, Converse, Vice, DJI, and Adobe of course.

Create: Yes, you recently worked on a very cool project for us—you were one of 11 artists who created “data portraits” for Adobe at Cannes Lions. Tell me about that.

Yo Az: I did a portrait of Timothy Armoo. At the beginning I was worried about how to incorporate all the given data and not make the picture to full or too busy. Then I realized that the text could be a part of the face. So instead of the text being the first thing we see, I incorporated it into the design of the face. This made all the difference—it was a pleasure to work on.

Create: How much self-initiated work are you doing these days?

Yo Az: I have ongoing self-initiated projects—I have three or four projects I need to finish right now, and I always have self-initiated work in parallel with my professional work. Sometimes commercial work helps me to find other angles for my personal work, and vice-versa.

Create: What do you do when you’re not drawing?

Yo Az: I very much enjoy traveling—to discover new places, cultures, ideas, and of course food. I like to go out with friends and catch up. To make a walk in a museum is something I enjoy a lot, and that gives me new inspiration. I am always curious to see new movies and series. And I really love music. I would not be able to live without it—I go a lot to festivals or concerts.

See more of Yo Az’s work on his Behance page.