YONK: the VR Sculpting Duo

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Welcome to YONK, an artist duo that creates vivid, tactile, maximalist imagery and animation, all within the confines of virtual reality.  

YONK is the brainchild of artists Niels van der Donk and Victoria Young, who met during their studies at The Royal Academy of Art, The Hague (NL). The couple began collaborating in their VJ’ing class, creating a band to explore their love of music and visuals. It was clear from this point on that their playful approach to creativity and visual aesthetic aligned, yet both had to finish their studies in different countries.

With Victoria in the UK at Central Saint Martins and Niels remaining in The Hague, the duos distance didn’t stop their unconscious collaborations. Both artists made numerous features on each other’s work and always helped each other out with technical glitches and issues. It wasn’t till both became graduates and moved in together, that they realised the potential they had as an artist duo and decided to set up YONK.

YONK is an expression of both Niels and Victoria as people. It is fun, playful and damn right weird at times. It encapsulates everything they have ever wanted to see in a 3D form, with the addition of vivid colours and polished textures. They let their imaginations go wild, resulting in a portfolio of eccentric, unearthly beings and creatures. “We are always creating for the sake of creation without stopping to reflect. It allows us to run on our intuition and not overthink. Sometimes our best work has no explanation and just exists”.

A notable part of their practice is the process of using virtual reality to sculpt their assets. This process enables them to work intuitively and spontaneously. The tool offers a 360 virtual studio space and digital clay in which they can deform, smooth, cut and shape into their wildest dreams. It also creates a whimsical aesthetic with drawn-out, rippled edges and ceramic characteristics. It has become the very thing that places YONK outside the box of clean 3D and pushes them into an art style of their own.

A great example of this unique style and creative process is the ‘Biker’ series which is featured on SuperRare. The origin of these artworks was a night out in Amsterdam city centre, sitting on the terrace of a bar, “Whilst watching people pass by, we realised the similarity between people and their bikes, much like the uncanny similarity between people and their dogs. We started to discuss how a bike and be just as expressive as clothing or your hairstyle. It can become an extension of you, especially here in the Netherlands”. The artists began to explore this by sculpting characters on bikes, paying attention to recognisable human aspects such as keys or umbrellas. The more mechanically correct the bikes became, the more the artists wanted to play with the shape and composition. For instance, the bike’s wheels melt into the ground rendering them completely unusable, yet they still convey a feeling of movement. The use of colour is also a great example of YONK’s style, with gradients flashing across the various characters and the bikes shiny, vibrant veneers lighting up the image.

YONK will continue to create unique pieces in their distinctive style that lighten up your day and bring a smile to your face.

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Edition 1 of 1
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