As both a youth worker and an artist, Yohan Daza utilizes his art to help young kids work through their struggles and draws attention to social issues kids are dealing with today. Heavy topics such as bullying, mental illness, and the complex foster care system can be challenging to explain or even talk about with children, but it’s a challenge Daza has taken head on. Through his illustration and writing he conveys difficult subjects in a simple to understand medium with a magical flair.
His book, Bigfoot Gets Bullied, delves into the struggles that student’s go through with fitting in, as well as simple techniques for getting along with others. It empowers kids to manage their emotions and stop mean behavior. Daza wrote and illustrated the book with his friend Jeff Veley.
Originally from Chile, Daza moved to Michigan and attended Kendall College. He graduated with a fine arts degree specializing in illustration and motion graphics. While taking a children’s book English course and a children’s illustration course, Daza shared with us, “I became fascinated with the idea that I could tell my stories in a very magical way.” He began to write and illustrate his first book while in school, however he didn’t get the chance to publish it at the time. It wasn’t until years later that he picked up the practice again and made Bigfoot Gets Bullied.
Daza has now just finished his second book, soon to be released, titled Luis the Little Pirate and His New Foster Home. Daza writes, “This is a magical adventure book that deals with the foster home system. The idea is to bring awareness to families that are thinking to foster or adopt.”
Aside from writing and illustrating children’s books, Yohan is an avid guitar player, records his own podcasts called “Find Your Reason to Live”, and creates a variety of colorful illustrations. Check out his Instagram @artyohandaza to see vivid drawings of insects, superheroes, musicians, sneakers, and more. Some of our favorite works of his are his ink-on-wood paintings. Whether it be on the bottom of a skateboard or a musical instrument, the contrast and detail look beautiful!
Daza entered ArtPrize in 2017 with an illustration and story series called “Seven Reasons to Live”. While dealing with kids who struggled with suicide ideation, and then watching the show 13 Reasons Why, he felt compelled to create a counter-narrative. In a WGVU Interview, Daza goes into his process of asking his friends around him “Why do you live?”. Some of them had answers right away, but a few replied, “I don’t know.” After diving deeper with questions, Daza collected a handful of stories from friends and acquaintances and began to illustrate their responses. The result was a touching and informative series showing how people find all kinds of different reasons to have purpose in life. You can view the illustrations and read the stories here.
Daza plans to enter ArtPrize again this year, likely submitting an ink-on-wood piece. Look out for him there and watch for the release of his new book in the next month! All of his current work can be found on his website theartofyohandaza.com.