Andrew Yan

Name: Andrew Yan

Year: Senior

School: College

Major: History with minors in Art and Theology

Tell me about yourself:

I graduated in December, and currently all my free time is spent illustrating in some way. I’m not sure where it’ll lead but I hope its a passion that’ll keep growing! I am currently working on an illustrated book inspired by a trip to Iceland I went on last year. Its working title is “A Pathetic Mythology”. It’ll be full of surreal scenes and landscapes, and hopefully the best thing I’ve ever made.

I’d say who I am now as an “artist” started in Junior year. I got super anxious about graduating, maybe even going to law school -- and then I would be finished. I thought that I had so many visions and unrealized images that would never come out. With the help of the Art Department, The Corp, I finished a 30 page graphic novel. It had no words or coherent story because the whole thing was just an excuse to “get it out of my system”. That didn’t work, because now I’m making another book.


What motivates your art?

I enjoyed doing art as a kid, and I kept going back to it until it became very central to me -- the excitement of creating things never wore out. I can’t pin down exactly what it is that motivates me, because art encompasses so much. It’s therapeutic and fun, it's angry and obsessive. It’s something I can really focus on. It lets me express myself without the clumsiness that comes with seemingly everything else in life. I can get articles written about me!

What is your favorite style of art?

There is a term called “outsider art” which is art that doesn’t fit into art history. It is people that come out of nowhere and create crazy, unexpected work. There was this guy named Henry Darger who spent his whole life drawing a 15,000 page book about an alternate universe about kids and monsters. I like that sort of really immersive, down-the-rabbit-hole sort of art that builds entire worlds. Like when you were a kid and under every rock you lift you’d find hidden cities of bugs and worms. That sense of unexpected wonder is what I really want to achieve.

How has your style changed since high school?

My stuff used to look like something made by hippies in the ‘70s and now its become much more organized  and conservative. But underneath all the change I’m still chasing the same sort of feelings and ideals. 

Can you tell me more about the book you are working on that was inspired by your trip to Iceland?

I applied to the Art Department’s Misty Dailey award, which gave me money to travel and make an art project. I proposed to make a portfolio of illustrations based on driving through Iceland. I brought my friend along and we had a great roadtrip.

The portfolio idea soon grew into an illustrated book with some attempted poetry. It’ll be full of real landscapes and places mixed together with the personal, fantastical, and imaginary. I’ve always been fascinated by creation myths, and I wanted to make one myself, so I named it  “A Pathetic Mythology”. 

Why did you choose Iceland?

Beyond all the amazing photos, the idea of this isolated cold island in the Atlantic really appealed to me on some subconscious level. I remember when I was in the 3rd grade or so wanting to become a potato farmer in Idaho. I think going to Iceland was the same idea aged 15 years. The barren landscapes and the daylight that stretch on forever captured my imagination. Why were hermits, shamans, and Jesus all bent on running off into the desert? There has to be something there! Maybe I just like being cold and alone?

Tell me about your pen drawings of Healy Hall and similar pieces. 

I don’t do many of them but they’re a lot of fun and a great exercise. There’s so many different ways you can render and re-invent the everyday places you pass by. Not the best work, but people seem to like them a lot and I’ll keep doing them.  

What was your reaction when you saw that your photo got shared by Georgetown University?

There’s not a lot of artwork on Georgetown’s social media so I figured my chances were good! I was very happy to get a bunch of followers on my small instagram account. When they shared it I was excited but strangely nervous because it wasn’t the best work. Small things like this show that as comfy as it is to stay behind-the-scenes all day, you need to put your stuff out. Everything that prevents you from sharing work is all in the mind. The average viewer isn’t going to critique, “the pencil lines are still showing!”. They’re just happy that you expressed yourself.