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Feature, InterviewFeatured

Jacob Yikes, Multi-Disciplinary Artist

Paint and Print, Street Art, Visual Arts

Neighbourhood Series: An Interview with Jacob Yikes

Jacob Yikes is a multi-disciplinary, Christchurch based artist known for his distinctive street murals which boast a ‘cartoon surrealism’ sort of style. In a recent interview, we discussed his path to becoming a full-time artist, street art in Ōtautahi and a few of his favourite local spots.

Growing up in a creative family, Yikes recalls being interested in art from the get-go. At the age eighteen, he began working as a graffiti writer before dabbling in more large-scale works following the Christchurch earthquakes in 2011. He’s now been living his dream as a full-time artist for eleven years, maintaining a heavy presence in Ōtautahi’s street art scene and creating a ton of paintings from his home studio.

While studying fine arts at the Design and Arts College of New Zealand gave Yikes a good understanding of art history, experimenting with graffiti is truly how he learned to paint. “No course can teach you how to create artwork on large scale walls with spray paint,” he explained. “I’d say I was sort of self-taught through experimentation and lots of practice.”

Street art helped bring a breath of fresh air to Ōtautahi following the tragedy in 2011. Since then, the city has become one of the world’s street art capitals with murals of all sorts representing hope and bringing joy to locals and tourists alike.

Yikes played a significant role in the post-earthquake transformation of Ōtautahi and has maintained a visible presence in the city’s street art scene since. “While street art had always been popular in Christchurch, it definitely exploded after the 2011 disaster and helped bring vibrancy and colour to the streets. The city has become a hub for graffiti artists since which has been really awesome to witness and be a part of.”

Immediately after the 2011 tragedy, Yikes teamed up with a few other local artists to bring ‘From the Ground Up’ – a public art project focused on revitalising Christchurch city walls with large-scale artworks – to life. He’s also participated in several street art festivals such as Spectrum Street Art and Flare Ōtautahi to transform the city’s walls into works of art.

While reflecting on the murals he’s created over the years, Yikes said the Ernest Rutherford tribute he designed on the side of the Hutchinson Ford Building on Tuam Street would have to be his favourite project to date. “Rutherford’s discoveries have shaped modern science, so it was an honour being a part of this project alongside the DTR crew, Dcypher and Ikarus. The style was realistic which definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone – something I believe is really important if you want to grow as an artist.”

Yike’s incomparable, impressive and phantasmagorical style has earned him a reputation as one of New Zealand’s most sought-after artists. Using several different mediums and techniques, he’s able to tap into his subconscious mind and produce powerful surrealist art both within the streets and in his home studio.

“Shifting from a large-scale wall to a small canvas can be tricky at times, but I enjoy jumping between both. With two small children at home, I try to maintain more of a balance between my work in the streets and within my home studio. The work I create at home feeds off the work I produce outdoors and vice versa. They have always fed off each other and I think they always will.”

It doesn’t matter if it’s a large-scale mural or small square painting, Yikes explained that the most rewarding part is “being able to wake up every day and do what I love.”

Head over to planetyikes.com to learn more about Jacob’s incredible work.

Neighbourhood Picks

Yikes has lived in Cashmere for nearly a year and loves everything the neighbourhood has to offer. Check out one of his local spots in the suburb he feels lucky to call home as well as a few of his favourite places to pop into in the heart of Ōtautahi.

Best brewery
Smash Palace for sure. They serve great local beer and have always been big supporters of street art in Ōtautahi. Myself and the DTR crew have done a lot of work for them over the years.
Favourite gallery
Fiksake is well worth a trip to Sydenham. Owners of the studio Nathan and Jenna specialise in urban art and have an incredible selection for sale from a range of Aotearoa artists.
Local spot
Taste@Twenty in Cashmere would have to be my favourite local cafe. The staff are always so friendly as soon as you walk through the door and the coffee and cabinet food is delicious.
Spread the love in Ōtautahi by supporting local.

This series is brought to you by our Creative and Digital Partner, Publica.

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