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Take Five with Kim Youdan

Kim Youdan is an artist who uses her need for travelling around the world to photograph her temporary environments. She then takes these black and white photos and adds dynamic and bold splashes of colour which capture the atmosphere of each place. Minimalist but very striking, the images are of people, architecture, landscapes, textures which most represent the places to which Kim travels. Beautiful as artworks in themselves, they could also serve as superb reminders of your own travels when you are back home.

In your professional life, what is the single best thing about what you do?

The way I structure my process allows me to live nomadically and work remotely, being free to travel and explore new places is definitely the best! It gives me so many opportunities to see new things, be introduced to different ways of life and experience culture at a deeper level. Having the freedom to travel ensures I have a constant source of inspiration for my art practise. To be inspired on such a regular basis is a huge part of my creative life, something that I try not take for granted!

Do you have a creative hero / heroine and if so, why?

I have many! When I was developing my technique a few years ago, Fabienne Rivory and Gerhard Richter really gave me a lot to think about. I also love the work of Sven Pfrommer. These three artists have been a constant inspiration for my work. They have all used photography in such different ways throughout their careers and they continue to be a go-to resource when I’m in need of eye-candy and inspiration!

In the last couple of years I'm beginning to become more and more influenced by the cultures and places I travel to, rather than specific creative people. I always explore the history and colour culture when I'm immersed in that country. These experiences have a big effect on me, something I want to capture in my work.

What piece of advice do you wish you had been given at the beginning of your career?

‘Don’t be precious’. I am still learning this. I grew up in a frugal household and find myself wanting to make the most of every piece of paper and photograph, not wanting to waste a scrap. I believe it’s a great value, but within my art practise I need to let go!

I have recently found a great way to help me discard mediocre work…”if it’s not a big YES then it’s a NO and it has to go”. From choosing imagery to print, and what pieces make the final series of works, this tag line has really helped me be decisive and progress with more flow, rather than fighting to keep everything on the table.

If you hit a creative block, what is your top tip for getting through it?

Change your state. Two things I tend to navigate towards are exercise and dipping into a creative book.

Exercise is an obvious one, it helps clear my head and such a great way to generate ideas. If I don’t have time for a gym session or to go out for a run -and I need something a little more immediate- I find flicking through a book really helps. I have a few in my studio that are great to dip in and out of when I’m a little stuck. Sir John Hegarty’s ‘Hegarty on Creativity. There are no rules’, Elizabeths Gilbert’s ‘Big Magic’ and ‘Show Your Work’ by Austin Kleon, are all to hand when I’m working and I need a little push to keep going.

And finally, for fun, if you were a shoe, what type of shoe would you be and why?

Great question! I love shoes but with our current lifestyle (living out of a bag) it’s not conducive to having a big choice of footwear. I would be one of those high heeled Nike trainer shoes! What an invention…a sporty look with the feminine touch and if you ask me they actually look pretty comfy!


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