Chris Yee (b. 1989) is based in East Ryde, Sydney where he works as an Illustrator, Designer & Animator specialising in traditional “pen and paper” methodologies. Initially majoring in graphic and textiles design, Chris believes in the power of character and storytelling and is heavily drawn to constructing narratives ranging from the humorous to the monstrous and macabre. Inspired by Comics, Wrestling, K-pop, punk and 2000s rap, it is the Hyperreal and grey area within these genres, the blurring believability between reality and fiction that he finds most engaging. Growing up in Ryde of the 1990s and living in Eastwood, he has been raised at the cultural crossroads of Chinese, Korean and Australian suburbia and is a proud member of the evolving Asian-Australian creative identity. He strongly believes that there is a unique character and original narrative found within this ever-changing community.
Outside his art practice, Chris is a designer and animator who has produced work for some of Australia’s best-known brands, including VIVID Festival Sydney, Apple, Sony Australia, Estée Lauder, Samsung, Sydney Opera House, Vans, Red Bull, Universal Music and Marvel comics. Chris was invited to speak at Sydney’s 2019 Semi Permanent Festival on Future creative youth and industry. In 2019, he created his first Permanent Heritage Artwork, ‘Tumbalong’ for Chinatown, Haymarket, Sydney.
Selected exhibitions include:
52 Artists 52 Actions, Artspace, 2021, Sydney.
Hi MEDUSA! 2019, 4a Centre of Contemporary Asian Art, Chinese Garden of Friendship, Sydney.
No Más (with Andrew Yee), 2018, Wedge Gallery, Sydney;
SOFT, 2016, Superchief Gallery, Los Angeles;
Mad Love, 2015, Japan Foundation, Sydney;
Panorama, 2015, Kind Of- Gallery, Sydney;
Goliath Ballroom (with James Jirat Patradoon), 2015, Goodspace, Sydney;
Menace, 2013, Kind Of- Gallery, Sydney
Commercial Art and Animation include:
Estée Lauder – La Mer 2021 LNY Year of the OX (Art Direction, Branding, Design and Illustration) – New York (2021)
The Galeries – LNY 2020 (Art Direction, Branding, Animation, Design and Illustration) Sydney (2020)
‘Tumbalong’ – Heritage Artwork, Haymarket, Steam Mill Lane, Chinatown – City of Sydney (2019)
Sam Smith – The Lighthouse Keeper ‘Animated music video’ (2020) (Animation, Art Direction, Illustration)
Justin Bieber – Yummy ‘Animated music video’ (2020) (Animation, Illustration) Tokimonsta – Love that Never ‘Animated music video‘ (2019) (Animation, Illustration)
Tkay Maidza – Don’t Call Again ‘Music Video’ (2020) (Art Direction, Lead Animation, Illustration)
Free Nationals ft. Kali Uchi and Mac Miller – Time ‘Animated music video (2019) (Animation, Illustration)
Leven Kali – Too High ft. Buddy, Na’kel Smith ‘Animated music video’ (2018) (Directed, animated and edited)
Zeds Dead X Diplo – Blame ‘Animated music video’ (2017) (Directed, animated and edited)
Zeds Dead X NGHTMRE – Frontlines ‘Animated music video’ (2017) (Directed, animated and edited)
The three artworks “Crossing Line”, “Angels in Play” and “Mirror Ball” are a collection of new Bespoke tapestries produced as a further study into Yee’s experiments with the woven form and storytelling of the Chinese diasporic communities around Sydney. With the works he chooses to recontextualise traditional graphic sensibilities, architectural forms and decorative embellishments to bridge the gap between cultural generations and shared stories of change within his local ‘Ryde’ community.
The process of works begin from Yee’s graphic and textile design background, illustrating with ink, digitally scanning and selecting colour palettes. The digital created image is then communicated through a selective cotton weaving process to take physical form.
Graphically the works interpret modern personal experiences in his community but he believes that by restoring these digital images to a woven form, with studied traditional textile design reference, he can help communicate the blurring of cultural storytelling through synthesising the look of traditional textiles with contemporary artistic expression.
‘Crossing Line’ refers to his immediate living community of Eastwood, Sydney. He is fascinated by the geographical train station acting as the dividing line between the generational Korean and Chinese Communities. As he lives between and has been influenced by both communities, he wishes to harmonise the relationship between the two borrowing from mixed cultural ornamentation and composition referencing the principles of national flag and colour.
‘Angels in Play’ is a manifestation of young Asian-Australian communities trying to grasp the complex ideals of religion, culture and what it meant to be Australian in a developmental stage. Yee reflects on the cluelessness of ‘track pant’ wearing boys, from various cultural backgrounds funnelled into Scripture during high school not understanding any of the concepts put forward to them. He states at the time, friendships were about play, ignoring these religious values. Graphically he has interpreted these experiences basing the composition on a children’s ‘hopscotch’ design, colours and design based on Strained Glasses windows of a church and fusing Asian Ornamentation within the patterns.
‘Mirror Ball’ is a humorous translation of the traditional Lion Dance mixing composition and ornamentation with modern Rave Culture of the West. A contemporary style of music made completely digitally, Yee tries to reflect this through infusing geometry of microchips and rasterised symmetry amongst the Chinese pattern and characters.