As anyone who’s read a picture book knows, the words only tell half the story. The other half is told by the images themselves, and that seems to be especially the case with What Is Punk? the playful, all-ages history of punk rock as told by author Eric Morse and artist Anny Yi. Yi’s images, incredibly fun Claymation recreations of iconic locations like CBGB and bands like Iggy and the Stooges, and The Clash are just one reason you — and the lucky kid who you’re reading this too — are likely to go back to this story again and again. Below is our interview with Yi on What Is Punk? as well as other projects.
Q: You have a history of making clay-art dioramas and stop-motion films. How did you get paired with Eric Morse for the What Is Punk? book?
A: I have been posting my art, illustrations, and photography on my blog. But then I decided to separate just my clay art and started a Tumblr called Hey Ho Let’s Doh. I posted my clay art of the Ramones, to begin with, among others. Eric found my Tumblr and contacted me and asked if I wanted to work on his book. A kids book about punk, kid-like clay art of punks… it was a perfect match and I’m happy he found me.
Q: I understand you’re a big fan of the Dead Kennedys. What’s your favorite song by them?
A: I’m actually a fan of almost every important punk band, really. Well, many bands. But Dead Kennedys is definitely an awesome one. I am also bad at naming favorites, but the first song I ever heard by them was “Kill the Poor.”
Q: Which was the most challenging tableau to make for What Is Punk?
A: Most challenging to make was CBGB, because of the scale of the background and buildings. It had a lot of details, and it was quite a large set. The London scene was also pretty challenging to make because I had to play with perspectives and scales.
Q: In the sequel What Is Hip-Hop?, there are shout-outs to Queen Latifah, Missy Elliott, Salt-N-Pepa, and Nicki Minaj. If you were to add one more female hip-hop artist to the book who might that be?
A: I would say, Mary J Blige. I know she is more R&B and that is why she didn’t make it into the book, but I think she is important to hip-hop as well. It kinda goes hand in hand.
Q: What happens to the claymation tableaux after the books are finished?
A: All the sets are dismantled right away after the photo shoot. The figurines and small pieces are stored away neatly in a labeled box. The backgrounds or sets, I also put away in bags. Whatever is left of it anyways. I worked mostly with Play-Doh, and they don’t age very well in a big scale, so some things I had to throw away. The small figurines are fine, they air dry pretty rock hard.
Q: Where else should we go to find additional artwork by you?
A: My Tumblr! You can check it out at HeyHo-LetsDoh.Tumblr.com.
Photo Credit: Images of Anny Yi — both real and in clay — courtesy of the artist.