Many people refer to him as the “T-shirt” guy, but in fact, Shimmi Yo represents the true creative generation of today. His studio is known for its edgy graphic designs on merchandise for independent artists along with its production work for charities. Shimmi is also a DJ with a deep passion for the music industry, which he calls his ‘home’. And yes, he is the one who printed our WAA t-shirts!
You help other artists with their branding and design, but would you call yourself an artist too?
I wouldn't necessarily call myself an artist, but I don’t mind other people calling me that. Actually, my father was an artist when he moved to West Berlin in the '70s. At that time, West Berlin was the only part of West Germany where you didn't have to serve in the military. Many young people, like my father, in the '70s and '80s moved to West Berlin to escape the army, which resulted in a creative bubble being formed in the west part of the city. They used to call it an "Island rule" as West Berlin was like an island surrounded by East Germany. I think all these historical dynamics lead to the foundations of Berlin we are experiencing today.
How did you decide to venture into the creative world?
I am a DJ and the music industry is my home. I acquired a vast network of creative people that I met throughout the years of living in Berlin. Since I was a kid I have always been interested in graphic T-Shirts, so one day I just decided to start designing my own.
Most studios in Berlin are huge, and usually only care about big clients, so there is a real gap in the market to create cool graphic merchandise for smaller independent artists. I wanted more people to have access to cool merchandise without having to go through the big guys, so that’s when I decided to kick-start my own printing studio.
What does the local Berlin community mean to you?
What is important for me is that I have met a lot of young people with a migrant background who have tremendously impacted the creative scene. I am especially excited to see how young women have changed things in the music scene. Journalists like Miriam Davoudvandi and Salwa Houmsi worked for German music outlets before they started doing their own podcasts (for example) on mental health, how the music scene works and political things. On top, Salwa is now co-hosting a political show at ZDF. As they are so young, they hugely impact how the scene discusses specific topics, and I think that’s awesome.
Do you have women role models that you would define as your Women Authors of Achievement?
Of course! Pop Culture icons like Sade, Barbara Kruger, Toni Morrison and Nina Simone. Not only because they set a whole new tone with their art, but because of the way they promoted their art and what it stands for. They changed the status quote in their scene, and I find this inspiring. But I’m also inspired by the extraordinary work the women I work with are doing daily.
What’s your favorite episode on WAA Podcast?
The one that resonated the most with me was the episode with Kelley Franklin (E.03). I found it very interesting that she moved to London to get to know the local musicians as she wanted to really get to know the roots of the scene. On some episodes you had guests coming from a background that I am not familiar with, but I still learned a lot!