We had the good fortune of connecting with Bryan Yonki and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Bryan, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
My thought process came from the (maybe cliche) idea of “Choose a job you love and you will never work a day in your life” I’ve always been drawn (no pun intended) to painting, even when my mom used to throw away my paintings and even while attending psychology school for 6 years. Ever since I discovered painting in high school through graffiti I knew I there was something there that I needed to keep pursuing. Back when I was living in Chile (where I lived all my life until 2013) I was already interested in Sign Painting, all my school years I’d admire the hand painted signs on the buses that would take me there every morning. But it was a dying art form. It wasn’t until I moved to LA and discovered that there was a tradition of painting signs by hand and the only school in the world that was still teaching the craft in a traditional manner. I never attended that school, I’m self taught, but just knowing that I was living in a city that was still putting those craftspersons in the market it meant there was a demand and I knew I could enter the market as well. Sign painting came to fulfill my need for painting but also, and I’m a fan of the bauhaus so I need my art to be utilitarian.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
What sets me apart is probably the fact that I don’t try to set myself apart. I don’t sign my paintings. I’m not attached to a particular style or a color palette. I just want to be a part of the critical mass of craftspeople and connect with them. I think the old idea of the “artist formula” in which you marry a style in order to make your work recognizable is something I don’t agree with. If you can look at something and you are not be able to tell I did it, is something I aspire towards and something I’m proud about also. i don’t think my path was particularly easy when nothing in my environment was enabling me to pursue painting but when you love something and you have the fire in the belly you MUST do it, so I can’t imagine not pursuing this regardless of it not being an easy road. Probably the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that what I do is not for everyone therefore my focus shouldn’t be on the mass but in the smallest viable audience that would miss what I bring into the world if i wasn’t here.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’d take them on a bike ride to Hollywood boulevard at night to admire all the neon signs. A hike to the the Griffith observatory. Venice Beach on a Sunday afternoon. Sign spotting in Downtown during the day. Volunteer for a day in Skid Row. Show them my favorites vegan restaurants which includes Japanese, Ethiopian, indian, Mexican and Korean. Take them to as many places I’ve painted signs for as I can. Camping in Joshua Tree for a night.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My shoutout goes to the people I’m already constantly shouting out and trying to bring attention to: the sign painters that came before me. I’ve visited many old school sign painters in different countries and I’m always fascinated by their confident humbleness. When the plotter came around in the late 80’s most traditional sign makers bought one and stayed in business just to make a quick buck cutting plastic letters. The one’s who kept painting and never quit are the ones that made possible that my generation had awareness for this craft so I’m trying to inspire the next generation. I also grew up in a punk scene so the “Do it yourself” part, as opposed to the traditional mentorship or academia, is something I try to push through my own personal story and how I present my work to my audience. There’s nothing more inspiring that knowing that you are just a link the chain but also you need to find out what that link looks like and make sure it works as a link, otherwise you’re breaking the chain.
Enkrypt Los Angeles