Over the Chinese New Year break, Singaporean-born street artist Sheryo was toiling with her partner, known as The Yok, over a new artwork on the wall of Moosehead Kitchen-Bar. Inspired by the bustling vibrancy of the bar and the tropical weather of the country, they transported the bar’s moose mascot, now decked out in a pair of jazzy shades and a cap, onto the beach and enjoying a pina colada. The original artwork has also been made into limited edition totes and tshirts, available at Moosehead. Meanwhile, Men’s Folio manages to catch a few words with the elusive street artists.
1. When did you each begin drawing?
Sheryo: I drew as soon as I could hold a crayon. Mom probably threw it out, but I remember trying to draw an apple but all that came out were red scribbles.
The Yok: I’m not exactly sure when I began drawing but it was at an early age. I remember drawing on the walls in our family home and getting in big trouble for it.
2. Choose one word that best defines your work.
3. What would you say influenced your style? Where do you draw inspiration for your work? Have you ever run dry before?
S: I grew up watching a lot of cartoons. I would say Ren & Stimpy, Tom & Jerry influenced my style. I travel a lot and that helps keep me inspired all the time.
Y: Reading Mad Magazine and growing up with cartoons fueled my style. Reg Mombassa was a big influence. I get a lot of inspiration from traveling to new countries and exploring their cultures, new customs, and folklores all help me with ideas for new works.
4. What is your personal favourite out of all your collaborative works so far?
S: I can’t really say because it changes ever so often. We’ve done so many paintings, drawings, sculptures in the last three years working together that it is so difficult trying to pinpoint which exact work I like out of all of them. If I really had to choose I would say all the work we made in Indonesia for our “Nasty Goreng” show, because the process was so much fun. There was adventure and curiosity and wonder in all of that work.
Y: The new one, I’m most excited about the one that’s in progress.
5. When you embarked on this career path, did you face any major objections or doubts from your friends, family or even yourself?
S: Definitely. As artists we question ourselves all the time. We try to never let that get us down and keep going. Doubts are all part and parcel of it and that helps us improve.
Y: There was some opposition from my family early on when choosing this path, my friends were very supportive and pushed me and motivated me to stay on the path. We have to keep questioning our work to keep reinventing it, making it better and progressing.
6. How did you both start working together? What’s the best and worst thing about working with each other?
S & Y: We started in 2011, we met by chance in Singapore and then again in Cambodia where we painted our first wall together. The best thing is that the ideas are always fresh with two heads putting in thoughts it creates some surprising combinations.
Y: The worst thing would be that I usually have to carry the ladders! (laughs)
S: Haha. Yok’s afraid of colours!
7. Before you teamed up, did you ever try collaborating with anybody else? How did that go?
Y: Yes, I have collaborated with other artists. Each artist is different so each approach is different, but it’s usually fun.
S: It’s always fun, but I have the most fun collaborating with Yok, and that’s why we stick together.
8. Tell us about your globetrotting experiences. Where have you travelled? How does geographical locations and culture affect street art?
S & Y: A lot of our travels are focused around Asia as it’s our favourite place to travel. The culture is so rich with colours, stories, costume, dance… there is so much that inspires us. One way that the locations affect the art, is by limiting the color palate down to a few colours, as it is difficult to find spray paint in some villages in some countries. We normally choose our subject matter based on the country we are in so the country and culture has a direct influence in this way.
9. Have you ever met with any trouble from the authorities or others while working?
S & Y: Yep. Let’s not talk about that!
10. Graffiti and street art has always been linked to delinquency and crime. How do you deal with such stereotypes? And what needs to change in the art scene or people’s perceptions for it to escape those stereotypes?
S & Y: We’re not concerned with how other people view or stereotype it. We don’t think anything needs to change and we like it the way it is. Perceptions are already changing and it’s affecting how the art is made, making it more commercial.
11. You recently collaborated with Moosehead, a bar in Singapore, to paint a mural. Where did you get the concept from?
S & Y: A lot of our work is based around our travels and our search for endless summer. We decided to combine the two themes and came up with a moose man enjoying a day at the beach.
12. To The Yok: You previously named the cartoon Ren & Stimpy as a source of inspiration. What do you think about such ‘adult’ cartoons, like Adventure Time, and how do they inform your art?
Y: These types of cartoons like Ren and Stimpy informed my art in the beginning and helped to form the style and a sense of humour that I still use today. For new projects, I look towards other cultures and folklore to shape my art.
13. What is the meaning behind street art?
S & Y: To surprise some one as they walk through a city.
14. What do you personally hope to achieve as a street artist?
Y: To inspire an unsuspecting viewer, to let them know there is some life in the city.
S: To inspire and inject some humour and surprise in people’s lives as they walk through the city.