Street artists Sheryo and the Yok paint a mural in Brooklyn

Two street artists explain the process behind creating an expansive mural at the Bushwick Collective in Brooklyn.

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Brooklyn-based street artists the Yok (theyok.com) and Sheryo (sheryoart.com) spray-painted this mural, Road Trip, at the Bushwick Collective over four days in April 2013, having recently returned to New York after a seven-month, globe-trotting trip in which they put up pieces in Vietnam, Cambodia, Singapore, Indonesia, Dubai, Australia and Mexico. Find the mural on Troutman Street between Irving and Wyckoff Avenues, just down the block from Chris Stain and Billy Mode’s work, Invent the Future. The Yok and Sheryo explain how the piece came together, from concept to location scouting and execution.

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  • Photograph: The Yok and Sheryo

    On the composition
    The Yok: We try and do work that’s specific to the area. We thought it would be fun to have local characters—like the cockroach, or the rat, or the hot dog, or the lonely pizza at the bodega—on a road trip out of Bushwick to somewhere warmer. They’re all wearing summer clothes and flip-flops and sunglasses, and there’s a skull with the surfboard; they’re going to Mexico for the winter.

  • On who sketched the characters
    The Yok: We sketch different characters at the same time.
    Sheryo: Then, when I got sick of it, we’d just switch around. Our attention spans are really short, so this is a good work flow for people with ADD.
    The Yok: We often work like this. We’ve found, remarkably, that our styles work so well together that it seems smooth, not forced at all—which is pretty rare.

  • Photograph: The Yok and Sheryo

    On translating the design to the wall
    Sheryo: You grid it out in your mind into different squares.
    The Yok: We just fold the paper in half, and half again, and go, “Well that’s half, so the hand needs to be at that point.” It’s pretty simple.
    Sheryo: We usually map out the center of the wall, and go from there. If it goes wrong you just tweak it along the way.
    The Yok: I think a lot of people don’t want to make mistakes, but there are really no mistakes. If you have that mentality, you can just go with that line. Maybe it was in the wrong spot, but nobody knows that it’s not supposed to be there.
    Sheryo: And it can always be covered up. That’s the good thing about spray paint: It dries fast. So go back, do it again.

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    On why they chose this wall instead of the one they were originally going to paint
    The Yok: There’s two main reasons. This wall doesn’t need to be primed first, so it saves us a lot of effort and $100 straightaway. Second reason is that we love this background, rather than a fully painted background—it feels nice and weathered.
    Sheryo: It’s got more character.

  • Photograph: The Yok and Sheryo

    On the painting process
    The Yok: You sketch it out in a color close to the wall color, then fill in the shapes, put the outline on top, then tighten up the outline by using the same color that’s underneath—kind of like an eraser. You’re cutting back your lines to make them sharper.

  • Photograph: The Yok and Sheryo

    On painting freehand with aerosols
    The Yok: It’s faster for us. There’s no systems that you have to adhere to—you’re not setting up and trying to tape stuff down. It’s just drawing on the wall, which is more fun. It just feels more natural.

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    On their favorite details
    The Yok: I love doing the patterns on the fabric. This new pattern that Sheryo found is pretty cool. I don’t know what it’s called: party fabric? Party happy-time fabric?
    Sheryo: I like the little dirt on the bike seat, the jizz; and the little cockroach egg. Like, Oh, hey, it’s a cockroach. Why is that there, what the hell?!

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    On funding the project themselves
    The Yok: We’re painting all this for free. We pay for the paint most of the time. Sometimes we get some sponsorship, but it’s all going in for other people to view and just to add a bit of color to the street.
    Sheryo: A can is $7.50, at least. For this wall, I think we’ll use 30, 40, 50 cans.
    The Yok: Generally you don’t get much back monetarily, but we just want to do it.
    Sheryo: Yeah, it’s kinda fun, the social-interaction part. Everyone comes round, y’know?
    The Yok: People stop and play music from their cars. Yeah, it’s good.

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Road Trip mural by street artists the Yok and Sheryo at the Bushwick Collective in Brooklyn

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Road Trip mural by street artists the Yok and Sheryo at the Bushwick Collective in Brooklyn

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Road Trip mural by street artists the Yok and Sheryo at the Bushwick Collective in Brooklyn

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Road Trip mural by street artists the Yok and Sheryo at the Bushwick Collective in Brooklyn

Photograph: The Yok and Sheryo

On the composition
The Yok: We try and do work that’s specific to the area. We thought it would be fun to have local characters—like the cockroach, or the rat, or the hot dog, or the lonely pizza at the bodega—on a road trip out of Bushwick to somewhere warmer. They’re all wearing summer clothes and flip-flops and sunglasses, and there’s a skull with the surfboard; they’re going to Mexico for the winter.


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