At the intersection of pop culture, tech, and art lies Yung Jake—the Instagram artist extraordinaire, whose most recent exhibit showcases all of the above.
Yung Jake’s latest exhibit at Dream Downtown features iterations of celebrities who have been composed entirely of emojis: radioactive emojis for Gigi Hadid’s blonde tresses; cookie emojis for the hollow of Willow Smith’s cheekbones. The select works from Jake’s original “Emoji Portraits” collection features other technified depictions of Leonardo DiCaprio, Lil Uzi Vert, Lil Yachty, and the artist’s nephew.
The Los Angeles artist first gained most of his exposure on Instagram, where he bears over 88,000 followers. It was through the platform that his residency at The Dream Downtown came to be. “I had seen Jake’s work before, and I just scrolled upon him on Instagram,” says Vice President, Brand Activation and Partnerships at Dream Hotel Group Rohit Anand. “So I reached out to him, and told him about the program, and how we partner with artists, and he connected me with his gallery who represents him.” The hotel, also known for housing the chic nightspot PH-D Rooftop Lounge, is a natural fit for such a modern take on classic portraiture.
Below, we caught up with Yung Jake on the exhibit via text, his preferred method of communication.
DuJour, 8:15 PM: So I saw the exhibit, it was wonderful. What made you think to combine celebrity culture and emojis?
Yung Jake, 8:20 PM: my business partner vince mckelvie created a web app emoji.ink and i just happened to be good at it so i did a bunch of celebrities
DuJour, 8:22 PM: Haha cool! What made you choose the celebrities you used?
Yung Jake, 8:38 PM: it was kinda based on how famous they were a couple of them i had there numbers and i sent to them knowing they’d post them
DuJour, 8:41 PM: Got it. I noticed the pieces were different sizes- how did you pick the size for each piece?
Yung Jake, 8:41 PM: idk some looked better big
DuJour, 8:44 PM: Ah cool. So how did you pick the emojis for each personality?
Yung Jake, 8:44 PM: random
DuJour, 8:46 PM: Did you make the pieces specifically for this exhibit?
Yung Jake, 8:48 PM: yeah the one of willow is new others are from a while back
DuJour, 8:50 PM: Cool, cool. How has this differed from other exhibits? As in, past solo exhibits you’ve done
Yung Jake, 8:54 PM: this is the first time i️ showed emoji portraits in this context i have other bodies of work that aren’t like this that i️ show
DuJour, 8:58 PM: Right, I saw some of your pieces at the Steve Turner Contemporary and some other portraits on Tripoli’s website. How did showing these pieces in the Dream come about?
Yung Jake, 9:00 PM: this guy ro from dream hit us up and said he wanted me to do a residency and ii was down
DuJour, 9:01 PM: Oh awesome. Did you have anything about showing in the new space that you were either concerned or excited about?
Yung Jake, 9:08 PM: tbh i haven’t even seen the space yet
DuJour, 9:08 PM: Haha okay. Well, do you have anything you’d like to say or add?
Yung Jake, 11:55 PM: “You are responsible for your own happiness. If you expect others to make you happy, you will always be disappointed.”
Main Image: Fred Waterford