Imagine being caught in a stare down with a Hell Sloth and just when you’re about to make for the exit, a life imitating art Flying (Fighting) Peacock descends, fanning out its wings as their feathery colors make your head a little dizzy. You feel a searing and burning pecking sensation to your feet.
You look down to see a Fire Rooster voraciously attacking your ankles as your knees turn to jell-o and you fall to the ground. Just when you think it couldn’t get any worse, a menacing figure looms over your slowly but surely weakening body. A Honey Badger looks down at you with a knowing yet menacing smile.
“Tap and it’ll be over,” it said. But you’re not done yet…
The above is a snippet from a dream I had when Seymour Yang agreed to my request for an interview. I swear by my Shoyoroll it was an actual dream!
But who’s Seymour Yang? Well for one, he’s one of the most humble and creative person I know; an awesome all-round guy to put it simply. He’s also THE man behind Meerkatsu. The man is the illustrator, designer and creative think-tank behind the brand’s collection of beautiful and arresting designs. He even finds time to blog! If that’s not enough; not only is he a genius on canvas, he’s pretty deft on the mat as well! Seymour is an accomplished Brown Belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under Nick Brooks at Mill Hill BJJ (Roger Gracie).
So you can tell how stoked I was (still am) that despite his busy schedule, he agreed to have a little tête-à-tête with yours truly.
Hey there brutha Seymour! Before anything else, thank you first of all for taking some time out.
Hi Ke’es thanks for the opportunity to chat.
Cheers brutha, let’s roll then. Transitions are part of our lives as we continuously evolve from one phase to the next. How has Time and Life in general, been to you through the years as an artist brutha?
I’ve been very fortunate. I’m 44 years old so I’ve experienced several phases of personal development and growth. Currently I’m in a really good place. I have a great family, day job, BJJ and of course my art, which has always been there from the start. I remember when I was 15 or maybe 16, some kids in school wanted me to draw on t-shirts for them and they were giving me money for it. I couldn’t believe people wanted to wear my stuff. I still can’t to be honest! I draw for me but when others emote with the designs and concepts, it’s a big thrill.
I’m always trying to improve my technique, I study form, light, anatomy, design when I can and I try to bring something new to each new assignment, so it’s a continuing work in progress.
How has picking up BJJ influenced and shaped your life and art?
BJJ is a fantastic sport and martial art. I chose it because all my adult life I had been training in the traditional martial arts but one day I felt it was time to move on…BJJ called out to me and after that very first session, I was hooked. BJJ has influenced the artwork I create I guess by default since most of my work is drawn for grappling apparel. I choose concepts, ideas and themes that are common in the sport though I also try to be as inventive and creative as I can. To be honest however, even without BJJ, I would still be drawing…maybe not as much and maybe not to the same level of detail, but I doodle and sketch every day. It’s just a part of me.
Your dedication, commitment and participation in charity events and other good causes are exemplary and inspiring even. If you could create or hold just one such event, what would it be and why?
I’ve been honoured to contribute to fund raisers and good causes these past few years and they’ve been widely supported so I’m thankful to the jiu jitsu community. We are all united a common training ethos – that we train to better both ourselves AND our partners. It’s a unique situation where by learning techniques that could perform serious damage, we also learn respect for our fellow man and woman. I like to think this translates really well across to other aspects of our lives – and reaching out to help support good causes is definitely one of those aspects. As for what would be the ideal event? I honestly do not think you can top the sheer awesomeness of rolling over a 24-hour period, the so-called Grapplethon. It’s an amazing experience, something that anyone can do if they pace themselves properly. You reach highs and lows emotionally and physically but by the end of the 24 hours you will have learned a lot about yourself. I genuinely recommend every grappler tries the full 24 hour Grapplethon experience at least once in their lives.
End of Part I
You can check out Seymour’s designs or stay in touch with him here:
— Seymour Yang (@Meerkatsu) April 17, 2014