“Season change intensifies the memories and feelings, whether it’s happiness or sadness, I welcome both.”
I first met her through her “living alone” series. I am in love with her artworks and I am sure that you are going to fall for her work too. Happiness, nostalgia, sorrow, but above all hope. Seems like her prints are the definition of the famous The Smiths’ lyric “there is a light that never goes out”. An inner light. The light of our souls.
And if you look closer, I am telling you, you’ll see another you coming out of the pictures!
She ended up in L.A. following her dream. Animation production companies like Disney and Netflix are included in her portfolio. She lives with her other half and her lifetime furry friend Parker. She is in love with colors, adores autumn and has learned how to embrace life with its ups and downs…
Meet Yaoyao Ma Van As and her sparkling illustrations…
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Yaoyao, welcome to ART.harbour! I am really happy that you accepted our invitation. I must admit that it feels a bit strange to me ‘cause it’s like I’ve known you through your prints a long time now…
Thank you! I’m honored to be part of your article!
Tell us a bit more about you… You live in L.A. and you work there at the time, right? But… what’s your story? ☺
I moved out to L.A. to pursue a career in animation and somehow fell into layout/ background painting along the way, and now I’m taking some time off to discover what I really want to do, because after working in the industry for a while, I realized that there are so many things I want to do with my life.
How would you describe yourself as an artist? Which are the bullet points in your creative path?
As an artist I am super critical about what I do, which is good but also kind of bad because I am so hard on myself.
I start off with an idea, usually about a point I’m trying to make or a story that I have in mind. Then I do a rough sketch to get the composition I want (this is the toughest part because I don’t want to always have the same composition and it has to read instantly, so it takes some time for me to figure out).
After that, I do the line work of the characters, and depending on what style I’m going for, sometimes I go straight into painting the background without doing a clean line pass. Lastly, I work on the lighting.
We can find your works in several animation series like Rick and Morty (Adult Swim), Future Worm (Disney) and BoJack Horseman (Netflix)… Is it “easy” to work for such huge production companies?
Yes, it’s pretty straightforward, especially if you have a good team and an organized production.
I “met” you through your “living alone” series. Oh, those colorful magnificent prints of yours… It’s like reading every girl’s diary! What’s the message you want to give to the women of the world via those series?
To me, it doesn’t matter if you’re living alone or living with people, every girl (actually everyone) goes through similar emotions, whether it’s love, heartbreak, loneliness, or pure joy… and I just wanted to depict some of those.
It’s therapeutic for me to do these, and hopefully, it reminds everyone that we’re not alone in feeling these emotions.
Seasons change… How does that affect the heart of an artist? Your heart…
I used to hate season changes as a child, and I used to especially hate autumn. But now as an adult, I love it so much, especially autumn. Season change intensifies the memories and feelings, whether it’s happiness or sadness, I welcome both.
We can see from your bio page on your website a lovely picture of you and your doggie. Is it a boy or a girl?
Parker is my little boy!
The dog-human relationship described in your prints is so adorable – more like a partnership – and I can admit it’s pretty close to mine with my dog! How would you describe it in a few words?
Parker is my best friend, my son, my world, and I’d be lost without him.
What’s the print that best describes your present? Mine is “Can’t Stop Eating” for example haha!
Haha, “Can’t Stop Eating” is definitely my constant struggle. But mentally I suppose, as of right now, it’s “Carry On”.
Animals, friends, broken hearts, a good meal, a relaxing bath, a bad day at work… simple moments of happiness and sadness… What’s your path in life?
My path has been winding, complicated, and messy. These are just tiny fragments that I’ve held onto along the way.
Even the “duller” drawings of yours express an inner light of hope. What are you hoping for?
I usually draw the hopeful ones when I’m having a bad day, and I do those to try to remind myself that things will be alright.
Let’s talk about colors… What are your favorite colors? What do they symbolize for you?
I used to think “I love all colors” is a cop-out answer, but I really do feel that way. Colors and color combinations can portray so many different emotions, and they are all important for certain ideas.
What inspires you?
I’m inspired by a lot of things. I like to let inspiration come to me when I’m working out when my mind is wandering. I like to listen to music and get inspired by the melody or the lyrics. Life’s ups and downs are definitely a huge inspiration to me as well.
Music… Is that an ally in your creative process?
Yes! A huge chunk of my work is inspired by something I heard or the feeling a song gave me.
What does “art” mean to you?
Art is a way to express yourself. For me, personally, I like to make art to explore thoughts and feelings that I can’t really articulate any other way.
The Art and the People… How deeply do you believe that Art can change or affect someone’s life?
Art can speak to everyone in different ways. Someone can look at a piece of artwork and feel pure joy, whereas someone else looking at the same artwork might see themselves in that situation and have a different memory..
Do you remember your very first drawing? Do you have maybe any of your primitive sketches?
My dad has all my old drawings stored somewhere… I don’t have any with me because I moved around a lot.
Really, how do you create your art? Paper, canvas, pc screen… Is really painting a matter of material choice?
I use Photoshop on a Cintiq. I’ve recently started using the iPad Procreate but those are just sketches to get used to using that program.
Where do you draw? Could you describe us your personal art-space?
I have an office at home that I share with my husband. Our desks are side by side, he has his computer and I have mine. Parker has a chair next to my desk, and a couple of his beds that he can sit at while we work.
A more practical question… Where can we find and buy your works?
You can find and buy my work on my website.
Who is your favorite artist?
I have so many favorite artists because they are all so talented and make such beautiful artwork. Glen Keane is my all time favorite though.
Months ago I was working on a project regarding “Women in the Arts”. What’s your opinion on how women are treated in the art field? Are there any women artists that you admire?
Thus far I’ve been pretty isolated from the art scene, I haven’t participated in any conventions. As far as in the studios, I’ve been fairly lucky and been treated really well. I’ve heard stories about sexism in the industry, but personally, I haven’t experienced anything.
What’s your infinite favorite book?
Have you ever been in Greece?
No, but it’s on my list of places to visit!
One final question… more like a game. I would like you to tell me the first three words that come to your mind and start with A, R & T, as for ART.
Appeal, Respect, Time
I promise you that if I end up in L.A. I will come and meet you! You are always welcome in Prague and Athens. Thank you for sharing your sparkling art and thoughts with us ☺
Thank you so much! Yes, please let me know if you move to L.A.!