James W. Mataitis Bailey is the man behind the almost cult followed tumblr Yimmy Yayo. Besides gaining enormous amounts of traffic on his blog, James has worked as a designer, photographer and creative director consulting for celebreties like Jay-Z, The XX, Bruno Mars and companies like Vice, LVMH and Oyster Mag. Since James is not a very public person with only one video and a single photograph of himself to be found online, we hit him up with a few questions to learn more about this mystical, creative Australian lad. Originally from Sydney, now based in Los Angeles and always on the road, James has also shared a series of unpublished photos from his never ending travels around the globe.
Tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? Where are you living? What are you doing?
Yimmy Yayo: My name is James William Mataitis Bailey. I’m a Creative Director / Designer from Sydney, Australia, currently in Los Angeles.
What are you working on at the moment?
Yimmy Yayo: As of right now, creative direction for a band about to sign to a major. Editorial and commercial photographic work. Alongside personal bits and pieces as always I suppose.
How has 2014 been for you?
Yimmy Yayo: Incredible so far. I was on tour in the UK working on show & lighting design, in Paris with friends, Los Angeles to pack up my old apartment, family in Australia for a few months, New York for Fashion Week and rounding out the year in Los Angeles where I lived for the past 18 or so months.
When and how did your tumblr begin to get so much traffic?
Yimmy Yayo: I started it in 2008, during the final year of my design degree. It was a spur of the moment thing with no real goal or plan. I guess it started to pick up around 2009/2010, although I turned analytics off years ago, so I wouldn’t know the numbers now. It was never really about that anyway, so I feel better not monitoring the numbers. How? I have no idea. Luck and consistency I suppose.
What are your favourite tumblr’s?
Yimmy Yayo: There are a few like Otaku Gangsta, Dethjunkie & The Grand Archives that I’ve followed for ages, thousands of really random ones and then the usual other non-tumblr culprits, JJJJound, Hrstudioplus, Hawl-Lin etc etc.
You are not putting your own person very much in the spotlight. Why is that?
Yimmy Yayo: I’m pretty shy naturally and have always disliked personal attention, so I guess it was nice to be able to separate myself from the online persona, create a buffer or bubble if you will. Also I always find it super cheesy when people put themselves on blast, I’m not a huge fan of egotism.
Who do you look up to?
Yimmy Yayo: Anyone who works hard and is nice to everyone, not just those who can further their careers or give them something in return. I have heroes, but I hope never to meet them. I have met one or two and the myth has been completely lost.
What is the hardest part of working in the creative field?
Yimmy Yayo: Subjectivity, definitely. It’s tough be able to balance what you think is right, with what the client thinks is right. Justification always helps, but your work can be dismissed based on not very much, sometimes nothing at all, other than a ‘don’t like it’. It takes trust and relationships to really bring out the best creative work in anyone.
Has the popularity of your tumblr opened many doors for you?
Yimmy Yayo: I believe so, I’d like to think my technical skill-set and personality has a lot to do with where I’m at, but I’d be ignorant to think I’d have made it into as many doors without it.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Yimmy Yayo: Hopefully more settled, I’ve been on the road, essentially, for about 3 years now and I can’t wait to be in one place for more than a year. I’d like to hope that my work becomes more refined and developed, both design and photography. Mostly I’d like to decide what I want to do with my life, no complaints at the moment though.
Interview by Carl-Emil Storm Gabrielsen.
Photography by James W. Mataitis Bailey.