Artist Sam Yong has been a long time friend of Side.Life. Having worked on multiple graphic projects for Mr Simple over the years, we took a moment to ask him some questions about his recent exhibition, ‘K E E P S A K E S’, his journey through Iceland, and his curated page of face swaps.
With the progression of our friend the internet, it’s allowed me an insight into your world, I’ve been creeping your Instagram account and came across some beautiful photography of your journey through Iceland. Did the locals have any weird Icelandic quirks that you’d never seen before?
Iceland has got to be one of the most beautiful places on earth, it is amplified because it’s such a small land mass, I bet there’s more beauty per square metre anywhere. It’s very remote so I didn’t actually get to interact with many locals. But everyone we encountered (which is very little as I spent 90% of my time camping) were super lovely and friendly. I found the language very entertaining, trying to read or pronounce the insanely long place names and road signs was very interesting and got us lost a few too many times.
The landscape in Iceland looks almost surreal, what was the most memorable part of the journey?
Haha all of it! I flew 40 hours each way to and from Melbourne to go camping for 6 days. The first proper day I had in the country was maybe the funniest/ exciting time. My friends arrived and i met them and we hired a car for the week and decided to drive from Keflavik airport all the way to this remote swimming pool (Krossneslaug) near the top of the country on the north western fjords. With no prior knowledge or driving experience in the country. It was an amazing coastal drive filled with abandoned towns, waterfalls, mountains, oceans and Icelandic horses. We didn’t anticipate the drive taking 5-6 hours so we didn’t get to the pool until about 10pm at night. From the pool you can sea the beach and then infinite ocean views. Which wasn’t the best thing we saw but the drive there was so fun. On the way home at Midnight we watched the sunset over the coast and honestly it’s gotta be the best sunset I’ve ever seen. The drive back was interesting, we almost run out of gas, frantically trying to find petrol at 1am with 5 hours drive to go in the middle of nowhere. Lucky we randomly found a self serve pump on the way. At about 4am we got stitched up by google maps and it led us down an hour long detour that resulted in a road that was on someone’s farm property and then it turned out that the road was flooded over completely with water and we couldn’t make it through. Add another 2 hours doubling back, and then a windscreen wiper decided to break off the car to become the most annoying thing in the world. We made it home at 6am.
The world is a big and unusual place, have you got any trips planned for the future?
I’m heading to Hawaii at the start of October for a month because I snagged some really cheap flights. I leave in a week and I have nothing booked for accommodation. The last two weeks I’ll be hanging out with some friends on the big island doing some art related projects so stay tuned!
Besides embarking on some epic journeys, I see you have a slight face swap fetish, when did the idea spark in your head to start @meonyourface?
I have a really dumb sense of humor and need to constantly entertain myself as I don’t own a TV like a normal person. The upside of this is that I’m really easily amused. I guess Instagram is more like a place to keep my weird ideas instead of having random files on your Hard drive you never look at. But I didn’t want to clutter up my art account as I use it more like a mini blog / portfolio / business page. memes are really great. They are my true passion.
The best thing is, we don’t stop at @meonyourface, you’ve got another account, @theyamsong were you do your versions of iconic (Britney, Mariah, Rhianna) pop songs. How did this come about, did you have dreams of being an R&B singer growing up?
I honestly don’t know where these weird ideas come from, except that they are always born when I’m alone in my room thinking about how I can have a quiet laugh to myself. I should really get a TV or a girlfriend or something or even leave the house. Weird fact, I actually wanted to be a paleontologist when I was younger.
It’s good to see you have a sense of humour mate, but back to reality, your ‘ K E E P S A K E S ‘ exhibition recently finished up at Outre gallery, what were the themes behind the body of work?
The show was a cathartic process for me, I’d been reflecting on a few of the past fleeting relationships and the kind of emotional aftermath and bits of memories and feelings that are always left behind. It was titled keepsakes for this reason. So I created physical tangible keepsakes to illustrate intangible feelings.
The paintings are incredibly detailed, how long did you work on ‘ K E E P S A K E S ‘?
I worked on the show for about 5 months (not solidly; I still have a part time job to pay for rent, travel, beer and 4am dumplings). And minus the time it took to do the Iceland trip.
Are you going to take some time out or are you straight back on the bandwagon working on new work?
No rest for me ever! I’m definitely a bit more relaxed and not thinking about a definite theme for new work and planning lots of cohesive pieces; but I’m still trying to paint or draw every day and hopefully that will lead into a new collection without forcing anything.
You’ve had a long-standing relationship with our friends at Mr Simple, creating detailed yardages for shirting and t-shirts, do you enjoy the process of seeing your work come to life on wearable pieces?
Yeah definitely, I really like working in new mediums and trying different things. I’d love to get involved with jewelry and sculpture at some stage.
Finally, we’ve got the Top 3 Side.Life road trip questions, what’s your favourite…
Road Trip Song: Shannon Noll – what about me?
Road Trip Food: Sausage in bread
Road Trip Must Have: Roads
Thanks for your time Sam, looking forward to seeing what the future holds for you.
For more Sam Yong, check out: