Artist Spotlight: A Studio Visit with Oak + Bindi
Lydia Yang, the brains behind Oak & Bindi, is an illustrator who depicts the impact of fashion in other visual industries. From collaborating with notable brands such as Madbury Club to the Guess x A$AP Rocky collection, Lydia brings her own identity to each and every project.
We spoke to the Singapore-based creative about her illustrations, how streetwear culture has helped shape her career, and what it means to be a creator.
Photography by Anton Lim.
Niki Frias: For those unfamiliar, what is your background and what do you do?
Lydia Yang: I received a visual communication diploma, started working on illustration and graphic design jobs after graduating. I started off with Oak & Bindi as my illustration moniker working on commercial mural projects and illustration commissions. However, recently I’ve been working on a personal label called Die Hard Lover (DHL), producing tees and collaborative merchandise that’s more graphic focused. In addition to this, I’m the co-founder of the creative collective, Tell Your Children—we’re in our 4th year running.
NF: What influences the artwork you create? How would you describe the aesthetic and
direction of your creativity?
LY: The influence for Die Hard Lover is largely driven by my local environment. My creative aesthetic usually revolves around current-day artistic and visual language, specifically in street culture. I tend to base my designs off the textures and colors of my immediate environment—anything from street signage to gaudy storefronts/fonts are inspiration to me.
NF: Your work translates into illustration, digital, painting, and cut and sew. How did your multidisciplinary approach to art and design evolve? Where did you start?
LY: Illustration started off as an early interest for me, it was something I was interested to pursue both personally and for commercial work. My interest in style and ways of creative expression definitely grew along with me, I wanted to produce work that reflected what I was into and what I was about.
What I really like doing now is contributing and being part of the conversation of current
day visual art and streetwear, although I still try to instill illustration within my personal work. I guess the first real evident switch was probably when I dropped the Nikes tee as I was already very absorbed in a more graphic creative scene then.
NF: How has your personal work and Tell Your Children cultivated a community?
Both my work and TYC resonates with many creative youths in Singapore. I came across this recently in the latest issue of ACCLAIM Magazine: “Every Sub-culture is really a community self-actualising. Often rejected from establishments and systems of power, people seek to express themselves with language, art and music these expressions become armour during difficult times and a secret code for accomplices.” With Singapore being a relatively young and a small country, there’s an evident lack of subcultural pioneers and streetwear or modern day creative-agencies to look up to locally. I guess we feel almost responsible to fill that void and exist as an independent entity.
NF: Tell Your Children has collaborated with collectives like Madbury Club in New York, what values are shared amongst these creative houses?
LY: A couple parallels I can draw are the independence of our establishments, striving to carve a significant subcultural identity, and pushing for personal creative ventures and working on them as well and as often as we can. We function best as a team.
NF: What do you value most about collaboration? What have been some of your favorite
LY: I try to collaborate across various practices (e.g: music, food) and with creatives who work with different mediums. I find that it helps elevate and bring a different dimension to each other’s work—it’s like taking a step up and adding to your creative body of work. When two entities have a similar vision and need each other to fulfill one another, that’s when a collaboration is successful and significant.
I loved working with The Refinery (a local brunch & bar spot) for the latest edition of Die Hard Lover. I curated a DHL Menu Special that featured a coffee I concocted with the barista and a Summer Ale produced by a local brewery that had custom DHL labels on them. We also collaborated on a range of merchandise and a collection of tees for the pop-up.
NF: How would you describe the creative community within Singapore?
LY: Well-informed, genuine, hardworking.
NF: Where do you find inspiration when traveling? Do you find yourself illustrating the
majority of the trips you take?
LY: Just being in a different environment I try to take as many photos to capture the vibe and the mood of each city. I look out for interesting typography and graphics wherever I go. I hardly make it a point to illustrate while I travel, but I try to put pen to paper when I have the time.
NF: How has streetwear, hip hop & sneakers played an impactful role in your life?
LY: I only really got into it a couple years ago, but hip-hop and streetwear both have largely influenced how I curate my style and the kinds of brands and music I’m into—even the way I create and live. Similarly, with sneakers, I was never too big on it growing up, but just following and being involved with street culture really made me notice the nuances of the “shoe game.” Now I consciously curate what I choose to buy and wear.
NF: How would you describe your personal style? What are your favorite brands and pieces
you carry in your closet?
LY: Tropical and Utilitarian. Some favourite brands are GEO, Araw (a Philippine Clothing line), Helmut Lang and Nike. Some of my favourite pieces are a pair of Helmut Lang painter pants, an Undefeated x Nike ComplexCon exclusive tee; and Daniel Caesar’s Freudian World Tour tees I managed to cop at his recent Singapore show.
NF: What is your Grail piece?
LY: This Loewe Hammock Bag created in collaboration with M/M Paris for the launch of LVMH’s online retail site 24 Sèvres.
NF: What is to come for Oak & Bindi in 2018?
LY: There are a couple of unique projects in the pipeline with various brands that I’m excited to see roll out this year. I am also working on a solo show of sorts in collaboration with a local store out here so I’m stoked to see that one through as well.