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YorkOne interview YARDBIRDS

STRAAT is proud to announce YARDBIRDS v.01, a two-person exhibition at the STRAAT Gallery featuring artists Ottograph and YorkOne. This exhibition celebrates two Amsterdam-based artists that are relentlessly active mural makers, continuously adding to the living walls on the exterior of the STRAAT museum building at the famed NDSM-werf. The opening reception for YARDBIRDS v.01 is Saturday May 14th, 2022 from 5 to 9pm, and will feature refreshments and live DJ’s. The reception is open to the public and the artists will be in attendance. We spoke to YorkOne to reflect on this upcoming exhibition.

STRAAT: You started writing graffiti at a very young age. Did you always want to be an artist?

YorkOne: No, graffiti was something I grew up with, which stole my heart. I only cared about ‘doing’ it, I wasn’t thinking long-term. Actually, my school work at the graphic design school probably suffered from it.

STRAAT: From Amsterdam punk graffiti to, as you describe it on your Instagram, Abstractypograffiti, how has your style grown throughout your career?

YorkOne: After not doing anything with graffiti for a while, I caught the virus again. I saw the developments in different styles graffiti had experienced, and I was particularly impressed by the west coast styles of American crews such as MSK and AWR. These had a certain symmetry that really spoke to me. I went on a quest to find my own style, mostly by doing a lot of sketching. After trying a few styles, I discovered that you can actually also do a lot with ‘normal’, regular letters. Typography has always had my interest. The more traditional graffiti letter styles are obviously often close to abstract art, I always thought that was kind of the idea. Even though it more or less happened spontaneously, looking back now it's a logical combination. And the process of discovering and development interests me a lot in general. 

STRAAT: This duo exhibition with Ottograph is titled Yardbirds, how do you interpret this?

YorkOne: Yardbirds… If you were to call NDSM a yard - it is an old shipyard after all - then Otto and I often flutter around this place. Free birds at a yard. Something like this I guess…

STRAAT: How important is the NDSM-werf to YorkOne?

YorkOne: Considering the fact it’s virtually the only place in Amsterdam where you can do your thing on decent walls, I’d say: very important. It’s such a shame a big city like Amsterdam, with its rich graffiti history, offers so little space to one of the biggest forms of free expression in the last decades.

STRAAT: What else can we expect from YorkOne this year?

YorkOne: I still feel like I have so much more to do. Big walls are on my list, more exhibitions. I want to keep growing.

The exhibition YARDBIRDS is on view through Sunday, June 19th, 2022 and is included as part of a general admission ticket to STRAAT. We obviously also spoke to Ottograph. His interview can be found here.

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