Updated: May 10, 2019
Dayi Tofu is who you wish you could be: creator by day, creator by night, and someone who, in their 20s, can still rock fringe bangs.
The 21-year-old graphic designer and painter moved to the U.S. from China when she was four years old. She found her love for the arts through messy arts and crafts during preschool — Elmer’s glue stuck on palms and everything. Art was the only way to get her to stop crying.
So she stuck with it. Pun intended.
What influences her art is not the people around her, her location, or even the artists she used to love.
She describes it as her “stupid evil scary childhood and wanting to be ok, happy, and peaceful in my head.”
It’s extra space; metaphysical extra space to be angry, or sad, or anxious.
“These paintings are supposed to be escapes for me,” she said. “They’re places my mind can go to have more room to feel anxious or space to look at bad memories in a manageable way.”
To just be.
On top of being quite possibly the most “aesthetic” person you know, she’s also smart (street and book-wise): Dayi graduated as valedictorian at her high school in 2015.
Don’t worry. She’s still human.
Like others, she struggles with getting past the figurative plateau—the one that, if you’re standing in the middle, feels endless. The figurative plateau is the creator’s paradox: in order to create well, you need to be motivated; in order to be motivated, you need well-crafted content.
When you’re a growing artist, it’s an uphill battle: “I get depressed and angry if I hate my recent work. That makes me not want to paint sometimes.”
It helps to be motivated by something. And Dayi? Well, she’s motivated by something else: solar light.
Keep up with Dayi here:
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Words by Ry X / Spread design by Kathryn Zix / Photos and Art by Dayi Tofu