Street art is fairly common in urban spaces, but it's an oddity out in the desert. Yote was born and raised outside of Washington, DC, but later relocated to northern Arizona. Four years ago, he began messing around with street art, but it wasn't until last year that he adopted the moniker Yote. "The name 'Yote' is slang for 'coyote,'" he explains. "It's most commonly used by those who hunt them. If you do a Google image search for 'yote', the majority of the images are of dead coyotes."Fortunately, Yote does more painting than he does hunting. In fact, his surroundings profoundly influence his pieces. "Before Yote, I was constantly reinventing my style, making each piece completely different from the previous," he reflects. "I guess I was trying to find my own style and vision. But as Yote, I am focused on rendering animals somewhat realistically and taking whatever I learned from my previous piece and incorporating it into the next." Animals inspire him, but he also loves gleaning ideas from other printmakers. "Without folks like Swoon and Gaia, who knows when I would have learned the potential of the medium on the streets," he insists.
Covering the better part of Arizona from the Navajo Nation to Tuscon, Yote hopes to bring people closer to nature. Speaking of his viewers, he explains, "I would like them to develop a connection with the animal or symbol. Hopefully through repetition, the meaning and power of the symbol will present itself to the viewer, allowing for a deeper connection of themselves and the systems they are a part of."
Conveying a message comes at a price, and Yote's met his fair share of characters while working. "At times I feel unsafe at night," he admits. "In Prescott, I just run into drunks, methheads, and cops, so I try to get up in the daytime as much as possible. In my experience, the more people around, the less likely someone is to say something about me."
At the moment, Yote juggles the responsibilities of studying psychology with creating new pieces. In the future, he plans to push his works further. "I would like to include a lot more colors, patterns, shapes, and symbols," he says. "Currently, I'm painting some large-scale pieces to put up in the Navajo Nation with Jetsonorama." Perhaps he'll even collaborate with some of his wheatpasting heros. He should do it soon before they get too big; when asked to predict the future of street art, Yote imagines, "Ten years from now, I think women will be dominating the streets."
Thanks, Yote! Keep up with his projects by visiting his Flickr.
Also, gotta give a shout out to Sarah's Chor Boogie documentary. They're in the last three days of fundraising, so kick them some change if you have some. This weekend should be great: warm weather! Photo scavenger hunts! Small Black + Washed Out + Tanlines at The Warehouse! Brilliance!