Some artists use paint, others use make-up, and some use everything in between. Dain Yoon is the artist using all of the above.
With the whole world at her feet – and most of the population staring back at her – Dain Yoon is the artist using her own body as a canvas to express her emotions through the surreal “illusion art” that she is quickly becoming globally recognised for.
Having already graced the pages of Italian Vogue and starring on The Ellen Show; I was intrigued to know more about the girl beyond the impressive artwork that often lies on her skin.
As a graduate of the prestigious Korea National University of Arts, Dain Yoon is more than just an artist. “I find that I am a very sensitive person and so my emotions often tend to become a source of inspiration for my work. Painting is the language in which I express these emotions; in the same way that a musician uses music to communicate theirs.”
Dain remembers being creative as a little girl and wanting nothing more than to draw and to paint, and nothing has changed. Dain’s longing to express her artistic flair has only progressed and deepened as the years have gone by which has led her to where she is today.
When studying scenography at university, which is the painting of theatrical sets to you and I, Dain quickly realised that she didn’t want to be creating the backdrop for others to take centre stage. Dain wanted her own stage and her own platform to showcase her very own works, and so that’s exactly what she did.
It wasn’t long before Dain’s work went viral online, and it’s not difficult to see why. Creating surreal looks through a combination of make-up, paint and artistic aptitude, Dain Yoon has the whole world staring at her work in utter disbelief.
“When I create a look I curate everything. It’s not just about painting body parts. It’s about the background, the atmosphere, the movement of body, the objects, and the lighting. It’s about carefully considering every single detail. Studying scenography taught me how to look at the scene as a whole” she said, smiling fondly. “It helped me move my focus from the subject to the bigger picture”.
The works of Dain Yoon certainly aren’t what you would describe as ordinary so I was curious as to why she creates such unconventional works, and the answer she gave me was not one that I was expecting. “I believe that we all live in an illusion” she said.
Dain continued, “people perceive everything and anything in their own subjective way, so what you may perceive as real, I may not, and vice versa. The illusions that I create distort the reality and perception that is shared by most people.”
She added, “a lot of people mistake illusion for tricking people into believing something that isn’t real but I do not think of it that way. I do not see illusion as a form of trickery, but rather a wider concept that anything that seems slightly different to its original form could be an illusion or momentarily take you out of the illusion that you are living.”
The more I spoke to Dain, the more I found myself just as intrigued in the way that she creates illusions as I was in why she created them. She told me, “I use many materials, but I use mostly paint. Whether it be body paint, the paint that’s put on walls or paint preferred by artists; my body is often always my canvas and my face in particular.”
“The very first step when creating a look is to conceptualise ideas, and it is this step that takes the longest. Actually creating the look can take anywhere between three and twelve hours.”
Dain continued, “the presentation of the work is just as important as the making of it, if not more. Whether it’s finding the right frame to place the work in, or creating the perfect caption to accompany an Instagram post; the presentation plays a part in how I express and communicate the emotion of my work to my audience.”
Though Dain’s work has been hung in galleries around the world at the likes of the Palm Springs Fine Art Fair and in cities the likes of New York and Las Vegas, Dain interestingly regards the internet as the biggest and somewhat most important gallery in the world.
“Real life is undeniably more important than virtual life. When a person views my work in a gallery they will respond to it physically with both their mind and their body, whereas when they view my work online it will not have that same impact.”
Dain continued, “in a gallery you can perceive the size and volume of the work. You will feel anticipation as you make the journey to the gallery, and you may even be thinking about your gallery visit a few days prior. It’s a whole experience. It’s the same as when you listen to music on your iPhone as opposed to live at a concert. The experiences are just incomparable, and it is the same with art.”
However, Dain strongly believes that she wouldn’t be where she is today without the power of the internet. “You are able to discover art with just a few clicks and a few strokes of your finger. You are then able to repeatedly look at that piece of art, and dig deeper to discover more art by the same artist if you wish. The likes of Instagram and Twitter allow artists like me to be discovered.”
Since taking the internet by storm with her out-of-this-world artistry, Dain has featured on The Ellen DeGeneres show and has been interviewed by Vogue. Undoubtedly having had a huge impact on Dain’s career; Dain still uses Instagram as a way of getting her work out there.
“I tend to use social media as a platform for showcasing some of my works, but I never think of it as an end-goal” Dain said. I replied, “what is the end-goal?”. That’s when she smiled humbly and said “to be an artist with global recognition for all that I do”.
Then, I smiled because something tells me that Dain’s end-goal is more of a certainty.