»We just like making stuff«
For Yuk Fun, a design duo from seaside town Brighton, animals are the better humans, and so their clothes and art are bustling with creatures
Soon after Lucy Cheung became a member of the official Patrick Gildersleeve’s fan club, which her classmate had launched at the Leeds Metropolitan University, the two art and design students became a couple. Having worked separately for many years, they founded Yuk Fun together in 2014, and today they are known best for their screen-printed clothing, with their cheeky cat Dora grinning at you, with rabbits balancing on paint tubes, and with pockets sized to fit an A5 sketchbook. We talked to Yuk Fun about screen-printing in the smallest places, about improvisation and the importance of having fun, which runs through their entire work – and about why they turned quite serious in between. sd
Fun is not just very central to your work. You even named your label after Lucy’s middle name Yuk and combined it with “Fun”. What makes fun so important to you?
Lucy: I think having fun is very human and the main reason for existing. And it is really great fun for us when we bring people some joy with our work. Patrick: Or we’re just hedonists (laughs).
Hedonists with a big heart for wonderful incorrectness and for animals like the seagulls sitting on their eggs, breeding, and having a cigarette break . . .
Patrick: Oh yeah, I like that one too (laughs).
Like the other Yuk Fun designs, it’s based on your illustrations, Patrick. What are these characters about? Often they seem like a mix between humans and animals.
Patrick: To me, they’re animals with human traits, but definitely more animals. We even try to avoid drawing humans, because humans are trouble. They always fight and argue (laughs). Whereas animals just try to survive and have a reason for the most things they do.
Lucy: Their world is like an imaginary utopia for us. It’s a world that we would also love to see exist for us humans.
What do animals have, that humans don’t have, in your opinion?
Lucy: There’s just something funny about them. It’s no coincidence that children’s books are full of them doing humorous things. I can’t even remember many books I read as a child with humans in it. Patrick: I really love the Richard Scarry books with animals doing jobs and going about their business in a very human world. Like raccoons wearing dungarees or carrying a briefcase. They are just more fun (laughs).
You do commissions and work for brands, but mostly you are known for your Yuk Fun clothing line. It seems like it kind of saved you after a very long time of bad jobs. But at the same time, it sounds like it came about almost by accident.
Lucy: There was a long time with badly paid jobs in retail or care, and it was hard to get home after a day working full-time and then do something creative. But then Patrick got commissioned to make some illustrations for the children’s brand No Sugar Added. We never thought about doing clothing but when this happened, I got the idea that we could try to do it ourselves (laughs) and without a middleman involved.
But you had never done anything with fashion before?
Lucy: No, no. I only had taken some textile evening classes. But it was just a hobby, learning to sew and making my own clothes. We also had done some screen-printing at the university where we studied contemporary creative practice. So, we kind of just combined our hobbies.
And now you’re doing almost everything by yourself. You even make your own brand films for Yuk Fun with colorful paper worlds and models wearing rabbit hats or mouse ears.
Lucy: We just like making big props. Working with papier-mâché is really easy and also very cheap. You can make something look really cool without having to spend a lot of money. That is always great. Patrick: That was our first brand film and maybe we were too ambitious. We had made an elephant
»The world of our characters is like an imaginary utopia for us. It’s a world that we would also love to see exist for us humans«