JM: You’ve described art as “meditation and universal communication”. Can you explain that a little more? How can we use art to connect and have real dialogue with one another?
YL: For me, the “meditation” part is what is sometimes called “being in the zone”…. the feeling is calm, grounding and intentional yet my mind is not really thinking of anything. I think we can all agree that art is considered to be one of the universal languages, much like food and music. It is a way we can express ourselves and connect with one another across cultures without needing words.
JM: How do you stay inspired, and energize yourself when you’re feeling stagnant or creatively blocked?
YL: It is weird, but I rarely feel creatively blocked…..I think it is probably because much of my personal work involves a cycle of research and painting. It is like a kind of personal ecosystem where the knowledge inspires the painting and vice versa, and it keeps me going. I am generally a doer, so leaving it up to me, I’ll just keep working and working. So when I feel a bit stagnant or uninspired, I usually just take it as a sign to take a break or slow down.
JM: What’s your morning routine…are you a morning person or do you feel most creative at night?
YL: Definitely morning. I prefer to paint with natural light, so earlier in the day is better. My typical morning routine is get out of bed and make coffee! Feed my cat, Hedwig, and then do French lessons on my iPad (I like learning languages and I got into the habit of doing that a few years ago) while I sip coffee.
JM: What are the main daily actions you take to try and live in more of a balance with nature, and to mitigate your negative impact on the environment?
YL: I feel like I don’t do any more than the average person when it comes to reducing my carbon footprint eg. recycle, avoid single-use plastics, etc. I live in NYC and walking and public transportation is the norm, so I suppose that helps. But one thing I am big about is food waste. I really try to be creative and use up everything that I buy. Since I love to cook, it is actually kind of a fun culinary challenge.
JM: What’s a project you’re working on now, or have recently worked on that you are most excited about?
YL: I am currently working on illustrations for a storefront in Chelsea, NY. It is my first storefront window project, so it's exciting to work on a different scale and medium.
JM: How do you feel the fashion industry can play a role in shifting cultural consciousness towards more respect for the planet?
YL: The fashion industry vs. sustainability is a complex one. I don’t work directly in the fashion space, so I doubt I will be bringing anything new to the discussion. But one thing that seems to have become lost in our consciousness, and is perhaps worth reactivating, is the idea of getting things fixed/repaired….some items are worth an easy fix and they do not have to go straight into the bin. Or upcycle/downcycle them. I am thinking of my grandmother who used to recycle our old clothes into crocheted floor mats and patchwork blankets.
JM: What is (one of) the best pieces of advice you’ve ever received?
YL: Someone once said to me, “Sometimes, there are situations in life where, whether you do something about it or you do nothing about it…..the results are the same.”