Meet the guy who draws York’s Yik Yaks

He’s bloody talented and internet famous

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In the midst of exams we thought why not meet the guy behind the York Uni: Yik Yak illustrations. 

He’s also a Big Name on networking and news site Reddit, going by the name of Shitty_Watercolour.

When he’s not making paintings to hang on Obama’s presidential campaign HQ wall or creating quirky art for the BBC, he’s a University of York student.

Hector Janse van Rensburg, or Shitty as he prefers to be known, is a second year PPE student from Alcuin college. Now for the good stuff.

What made you start illustrating Yik Yaks?

Amidst the revision blues, library encounters, and sea of people expressing their yearning for sexual contentment, there are some very paintable things to be found.

Since I always have my shitty watercolour goggles on, I was inspired to commit to being the artist that would breathe some colour into the musings of University-sans-identity once a day.

What was the hardest Yak you’ve illustrated?

This has the be the ‘last fuck’ painting. I woke up feeling unusually ambitious that day and decided to paint a lakeside shot of campus, because I suck at drawing buildings and I want to paint more York related stuff.

You have to get all the lines nice and straight on a building or else it’ll look stupid. I think I pulled it off, probably helped by the fact that the University of York’s campus was apparently designed by someone whose chosen medium of expression is differently proportioned grey rectangles.

Have you ever used the line “I’m the guy who illustrates York’s Yik Yaks” as a chat up line? If no, would you consider it?

If past experiences are anything to go by then it would probably result in protest as to why I didn’t paint that one dank yak they posted one time, but maybe I’ll give it a shot.

I’ll need to up my game if I’m to find someone to draw like one of my French girls any day soon. (inbox me serious enquiries, must provide own Heart of the Ocean).

He’s single, ladies

Why aren’t you doing an art degree if you’re this bloody good?

I’ve spent years securing my position in the lucrative but fiercely competitive shitty watercolours market, why would I jeopardise that by deliberately trying to better myself as an artist? You’re one of those people who wants me to change my name to ‘not_so_shitty_watercolour’, aren’t you?

Honestly, I only started painting in sixth form, and by then the process of applying was already over, so I never really got a chance… I do sometimes catch myself staring out the window, a neglected politics essay waiting in my lap, thinking about what might have been.

Can we see the standard of your “I’m not listening to this lecture so am going to just doodle on my notes instead” doodles?

I wish I could show you, they were quite impressive. Sistine Chapel worthy.  But after first year my note-taking went digital, because it was so distracting.

However, if you happen to be marking my Deramore Arms pub quiz on a Monday night, then you’ll probably see several sloth reimaginings of famous works of art drunkenly scribbled in the margins as I struggle to identify 80’s pop music.

Better than your stickmen doodles

Have you been recognised for your talent on a night out/in the library etc?

Yes. Usually I’ll get a message saying ‘I saw you at X today’, and nothing else. This would perhaps be more useful if I was an amnesiac trying to keep a diary.

I especially enjoyed the person at 3am who approached me mid-flow at the Willow urinals to ask about ‘my videos’, although I’m not sure what video that occasion prompted you to remember.

Would you consider yourself a BNOC because of your amazing talent?

Thank you for asking. Yes, absolutely. Huge. Although it can sometimes get in the way of things, especially during exams when they don’t have enough space to fit all 22 characters in the name box.