Wenqing Yan, more commonly known by her alias “Yuumei” is an internet famous illustrator and graphic novelist based in California USA. She identifies as a disillusioned idealist who focuses on environmentalism and cyber activism which greatly shows in her works. Although she primarily focuses on her complete illustrations, she has also illustrated and authored a variety of graphic novels but due to an unfortunate injury her process has been slowed. Yan’s work has earned her a massive following and she continues to inspire many by sending powerful messages using themes such as nature, pollution, hope and mental health.
Wenquing Yan was born in Sichuan China where she was encouraged to hone her artistic abilities in order to stand out amongst the other children. When asked where she learned how to draw she replied “I grew up in China where parents compete and show off their child like some sort of hobby, so drawing was one of the many things I had to learn,” although she considers herself self-taught, because she learned mostly through online tutorials around the time, she joined the online art community deviant art.
At the age of nine, she immigrated to America to reunite with her mother after four years of separation. During this time her parents divorced, later remarrying new partners. The years following she would go through very difficult period as she began suffering from mental health issues such as depression and anxiety because of family drama, her increased self-awareness, and legal issues regarding her headphone company Axent wear. A good portion of her personal illustrations reflect how she is feeling.
“I’d like to pretend that if I somehow draw out pain, and put it on canvas, that the pain will be contained on canvas, and not deep inside me. But that’s not true,” says Yan in one of her Deviant Art journal entries.
While it is easy to get caught up in the bright, vibrant, and highly saturated colours she uses in most of her works, it is the dark and gritty pieces that often speak the loudest. Illustrations such as Dread, Cold, and Come undone all feature women in a curled up position and utilise’s elements of horror and surrealism to depict a loss of control, overwhelming pressure, fear and more. Yan uses nudity to symbolise vulnerability. Her figures use their limbs to cover themselves showing insecurity as well as trouble dealing with traumas and stress (anxiety patients have been known to do this during panic attacks.) It’s Yan’s ability to depict strong emotions and her fearlessness in showing her audience who she truly is as a person that has helped her develop a massive following; because it is not only visually stunning but creates a personal connection with the viewer.