In Conversation with Joy Yamusangie

You’ve gained a worthy following over the last few years, but how did you get to this point? Where did your artistic journey begin? 

When I was in college I started a Tumblr. I didn’t really know what I was doing but with Tumblr you easily find your community and like minded people through shared interests. I followed hundreds of artists there and felt inspired to start using my page to share my work and document my drawings throughout school. As I moved on to university, I felt like I was a part of something online and enjoyed seeing, sharing and connecting with other artists. It has given me confidence in my own work and pursuing this career full time. 


You’ve developed a very recognisable aesthetic very early on in your artistic journey. What (if any) is the significance of your colour palette and the materials you use? 

I had quite a difficult time in university and it reflected in my work, I almost exclusively worked in black or white only. Coming out on the other side of university, building back my self-esteem and starting to connect and have new exciting experiences. I wanted to use as much colour as possible in my work and reflect feeling through reds, yellows and blues. 


You offer glimmers of insight into your process through your social media. How do you like to work and what is your process? 

Most things are ideas that are in my sketchbook, developed. I usually create a thumbnail sized sketch and then translate that into painting, collage, drawing, whatever I feel is most appropriate at the time.


Your work is often dealing with huge topics such as racism, gender and sexuality and yet remains intrinsically personal. As an artist do you feel a responsibility to tackle such issues or is this a natural occurrence?

I see my work as auto-biographical, it is a reflection of my life so these issues are simply a natural occurrence in my reality.


You’ve collaborated on several commercial projects, is the process the same on such projects?

It’s a similar process, but usually faster in pace and unfortunately has a lot of limitations. But these projects enable me to have a studio and have the time to work on personal works freely and at my own pace.


How have Covid-19 restrictions affected you and your work?

I was in the studio on a new series of work and planning a collaborative exhibition before all of this, so my work has come to standstill at the moment. I’m still adjusting to the change, not being able to access the studio and the lack of paid work. But hoping that freelancers and self-employed people overall are better supported by the government in the weeks to come.


What advice would you give to an artist who might also have to hold down a full time job to survive in a city such as London? 

This is such an expensive city to live and work in, so I’d suggest re-using materials as an alternative means and remember that you can claim a lot of things (like your art materials) under expenses if you are registered as a trader.


We’ve had lengthy conversations about QUEERCIRCLE’s plan to open an art centre dedicated to LGBTQ+ artists and the community. What do you think is the significance of such a space and what do you hope it to enable?

It will give a physical space to many emerging LGBTQ+ artists, allowing them to take up space, interact with other LGBTQ+ artists and I’d hope would bring along some exciting exhibitions to come.