"Never Limit Yourself in Any Way" : An Interview with Allyssa Yohana

July 27, 2016

We had the incredible opportunity to ask artist Allyssa Yohana (@allyssary) a few questions this month! You may know her from Rookie where she publishes her photography and comics featuring "Al."

Check out her Tumblr here and website here

DISSOLVING FILM: What was your first commission? How did it make you feel?

ALLYSSA YOHANA: My first commission ever was a horse painting in the 4th grade for the Houston Rodeo in Texas, hahaha. I really wish I could find it for reference, but honestly it was. And that was my first experience that made me feel like art was My Thing.

Tell us about your rabbit!

Pancake bunny is my best pal. I adopted him about 2 years ago from a shelter, they found him in a park in nyc, and it really was love at first sight as cheesy as that is. He's a free roaming snuggler and spends most of his days napping, stuffing his face, and bullying me at all hours of the night. I am a big advocate for people adopting rabbits, I don't think many people realize that they are more like a dog or cat in responsibility and up keep and have the silliest personalities.

Who/what inspires you?

I'm inspired most by my mom, thought she isn't with me now, I try to always think of her kindness, and she taught me to love making things. 

What has been your favorite musical experience?

Gosh, hm, I think my favorite live music experience would have to be 2 summers ago I went to see Patti Smith with one of my dearest pals, it was out on the beach, the sun was setting making everything burnt orange, and she started to sing "pissing in a river" while the baby with one sock on was running in circles. It just felt right.

Do you have a process and if so, can you elaborate?

I work in so many different ways that the process varies for each one. For photography it's very academic for me, it's about truly understanding the intentions and functions of an image, and looking at a lot of painting and gestures in the world around me and proving some sort of witness to that. For comics it's SUCH a different part of my brain, they are ultimately for my teen self and everyone like her, I try and do a little self portrait daily as a warm up, and from there tap into more of a diary mind-- which can range from my silliest to most sensitive self. 

How did your relationship with "Rookie" start?

I started to work for Rookie back in 2012. They are a very special place for many people, but are incredibly dear to my heart. I was keeping a pretty consistent photo diary back then and was in a great community of artists from school and the city and through all of that I was graciously given a platform to share things I had been making. Really it was just being around a lot of motivated and kind people making great things and this great platform just starting to bloom, and honestly just putting my work out there. 

What advice would you give to a young artist?

I guess the best advice I can give to a young artist is to never limit yourself in any way when it comes to your practice. When I was 15 I thought I'd be a painter, at 16 I was so convinced I was going to be a filmmaker or a DP or something, and from there I found photography and fell in love with that, which carried me into my studies in college. It wasn't until I was 22 that I started making comics-- and at that time only in secret, and now it's the form I'm most visible with! There is definitely photos I've made and comics I've done that I'm not super proud of, and would't say are Great by any means, but they are so so important because although a little embarrassing, they are how I'm able to get to that Next Thing. So, yeah try everything that interests you, or expand on that thing you might think is silly or bad or not Your Ultimate Art, because you never know where is could take you. Make things for yourself first.

Interview by Zoë Bridgwater