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High Five with Artist Yetunde Rodriguez of Yaytoonday

High Five with Artist Yetunde Rodriguez of Yaytoonday

Welcome back to our summer edition of High Five: Five Serious and Not-So-Serious Questions for our Makers blog post series!

In June we kicked this series off to celebrate the opening of our new brick-and-mortar shop in Seattle. Excited as I was to get the interviews going - I forgot to mention one quick thing: me! I'm Mikko, one of the staff members at Aide-mémoire and the host of our blog posts. 

This month, I'm especially excited to introduce artist Yetunde Rodriguez of Yaytoonday because like me, Yetunde has a background in printmaking. Our shop carries her artfully block-printed plant pot covers and hand painted zippered tote bags that bring a fresh rhythm to your home or wardrobe. 

Let's meet Yetunde! 

 Photo of Yetunde's art studio and image of the Yaytoonday Hand Painted Zippered Tote

MK: Your prints are so colorful and full of spirit. The variety of styles and motifs is incredible. How do you decide on your patterns and color palette?

YR: I create patterns out of my imagination. I prefer geometric shapes that are spontaneous with imperfect shapes and lines. To me they are just more lively. Life is not perfect, neither are my shapes. I typically create a motif, and decide on the pattern design later. I love bright saturated colors that get a reaction. I lean more towards warm colors. My favorite colors to use are coral, yellow ochre, and turquoise/teal. To me they are just happy colors, but also mature.

 

 image of Gem City Market food co-op and Yetunde's exterior mural artwork 

MK: I read that you recently did a mural for Gem City Market, a co-op grocery store in Dayton, OH. What did you learn from that experience that you'll bring to future projects?

YR: Yes, I designed the exterior Mural, as well as interior patterns, signage, and color selections for Gem City Market. Going in, I was super excited to be asked, but I was worried about being out of my depth. I worked directly with the Architect of the building, Matt Sauer, who graciously helped me along. Visualizing the space was tough for me at first, because the building that was just an idea for most of the time we worked on the project. I had to think about scaling my original stamp design to fit on building. I also learned about other considerations. For instance, in designing the aisle markers we had to consider things like building codes for the ceiling height, how far down the signage could be, etc. I got to help source materials for bathroom stalls, and tiles. Things I never would’ve thought about. Most people know about the exterior Mural, but there was so much more to that project. 

MK: In a recent interview with 91.3FM, WYSO, you mentioned "the best part [about having your art-based business], is dispelling the myth of the starving artist, because I think now more than ever there's opportunities out there." I love this quote. What advice would you give to people who are shy of turning their art into a career, or maybe don't know how to?

YR: Yes, I do think there are a lot of opportunities now, but people don’t know about them because there’s no place really to go for that information. Truthfully, the specifics of what led me to where I am may not apply to someone else. What worked for me was making work consistently, and sharing that work consistently. 

I think 99% of getting your work noticed is confidence. Artists (especially young or new ones) tend to lack confidence (in my opinion, I could be wrong). With confidence comes the confidence to pursue opportunities. I think if you are not confident in your work, you will overlook opportunities that could turn into something. I didn’t know whether my work was any good, but I liked what I was doing, so I gave a talk about it. The event was free to participate in and had a large audience. I signed up on a whim. The Architect who gave me the opportunity to work on the [Gem City Co-op] Mural was in the audience. He became a fan of my work and started following me on social media. When he won the contract to design the building, he reached out to me. You just never know what opportunities will come from a seemingly innocuous action.

I also don’t see a limit to the use of my  work. I’m not super precious about it either. I didn’t even really think I was an “Artist” for a long time. I considered myself a "Designer" and “business person” first. I was always looking for a way to get my work out there. If you put your work out there, it will resonate with someone. If it resonates with enough people, you will start to get recognized. In short, be confident, and put yourself out there. 

 

Image of Zulé fabric plant pot cover next to image of Yetunde's art studio interior

MK: In college I studied printmaking. Our department head said that every printmaking studio has a "kitchen witch" -- a studio good luck charm. I read that you just moved into a new studio space. What sort of kitchen witch or good luck charm will you have? 

YR: That is so interesting! I’ve never heard that before. I suppose that mine would have to be my plants. I currently just have 2, but I will add more. They just give me joy to look at… Having living things in your space is always good. 

MK: Ok, totally non-art or printmaking related question here! If you could build your own ice cream sundae what would be in yours?

YR: Anything with nuts: pralines, walnuts, almonds, coconuts. Maybe caramel. No chocolate though.

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It's been a pleasure to interview with you Yetunde! Thank you so much for your insights. And, yum! I would love to share some of that ice cream sundae please! :)

Discover more of Yetunde Rodriguez's work, at her website, Yaytoonday