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Art & Life with Bryan Yonki

Today we’d like to introduce you to Bryan Yonki.

Bryan Yonki is a self-taught lettering artist and sign painter based in Los Angeles, California. Originally from Chile, he started in the world of letters painting graffiti in the streets of Santiago around 2005. He’s been working with letters in a variety of analog formats for the last seven years after quitting psychology school. Experimenting with graffiti, hand lettering and calligraphy he explores and uses letters to both form words and create images; transmitting a message simultaneously verbal and iconic.

In 2016, he started his own company called “Well Done signs” to dedicate himself completely to the craft of traditional sign painting, he has done work for several small businesses around Los Angeles as well as the film industry. Most recently he started teaching workshops to help keeping the craft alive, under the slogan of “Always hand painted” he show folks the fun of painting letters with a brush.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
I paint letters for a living, primarily in the form of signs for small businesses and independent artists. I have a studio in Highland Park which is where I make most of the signs but work a lot on-site as well, painting windows, storefronts, vehicles, etc. Recently, I’ve been really into cutout signs, which means that I draw a design on wood and then cut it to shape with a jigsaw to create eye-catching signs. My practice is mostly commercially-oriented but every now and then I paint pieces just for the sake of doing it or just to get something out of my chest.

In these paintings, I usually try to mix a little bit of my influences as an artist: graffiti, old signs, neon, books, and 80’s music. Sometimes they are meant to be read literally and sometimes the message is secondary and the aesthetic takes the main role but they’re usually on a positive note. I’m really aware of the weight that words can carry. They can provoke a physical reaction or help you get through a negative mindset, or, of course, the reverse. If I can choose between making a negative or positive impact on my viewers, I’ll always choose a positive message.

Sometimes, behind these apparently random words, there is a personal story; a phrase that someone said to me or a word that I overheard that sounded funny to me. I also get a lot of influence from music and books. Still what I really enjoy is analyzing colloquial English language, since I’m not a native speaker. Every day I learn new words or expressions that people use without thinking; they just take it for granted. I do that a lot as an effort to make something more interesting than writing the day of the week, or the name of the latest popular movie. I see that a lot and I think it’s pretty boring, or just not really thought out. You don’t have to write “shaky” with a shaky lettering to make a point.

What responsibility, if any, do you think artists have to use their art to help alleviate problems faced by others? Has your art been affected by issues you’ve concerned about?
I don’t think of myself as an artist, but more like an artisan. Given that most of what I put out into the world is commercial art. From this perspective, I think I still have the power to shape a better place, for example starting in my community and helping businesses have a better-looking storefront or helping them communicate to their customers what they are really about through a hand-painted sign. The appeal and the visual language of a hand-crafted piece has an implicit message that vinyl signs cannot replicate and I take full advantage of this. It tells a story about the pride that the owners have on their business, it brings warm and really makes a difference when you they’re trying to distinguish themselves from the big corporate chains. I see as a political statement and I take pride on this by always trying to deliver something that suits their needs and they can be happy just by looking at it.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
People can find my most recent work on my two Instagram accounts: @BRYAN.YONKI which is oriented towards my personal work and journey and @WELLDONESIGNS strictly for commercial stuff.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Portrait and action shots by Fernanda Requena @fernandarqn

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