ABOUT THE ARTIST
Phil Yeh was born in Chicago's southside on October 7, 1954 and spent his first six years in Wayne, New Jersey. His father was a grad student from China who was studying engineering and his mother was a Chicagoland girl with ancestors from Europe. Their friends represented much of the world and Phil was exposed to art and music from all over the planet very early on. He picked up a crayon and started making art when he was two, and at the age of six was already making his own little books. In 1961, Phil relocated to the sunny climate of Los Angeles near Watts (Rodia's towers remain Phil's favorite manmade work of art on this planet) and grew up with even more cultural diversity. In high school, Phil moved again to Seal Beach, California where he would meet a variety of artists and writers at Los Alamitos High School who would help shape his future. In 1970, while still in high school, Phil started Eastwind Studios to both sell his work and to publish his magazines and books. He was designing t-shirts, pottery, leatherwork, comics, murals, and painting in watercolors and oils at his first studio location in Anaheim. He even painted a 90 foot mural with his partner Mark Eliot that was up for more than 30 years.
In 1973, Eliot and Yeh launched their own art and humor newspaper called Uncle Jam while sophomores at Cal State University of Long Beach. The paper went to full color in 1975, long before most newspapers in America. Uncle Jam would go on for almost 20 years in Southern California and featured some of the best artists and writers in its pages. In 1976, Phil opened his own Cobblestone Gallery in Long Beach to show his paintings and the works of friends, such as Alfredo Alcala and Jean Giraud.
In 1977, Phil wrote, illustrated, and published one of the first American graphic novels (Even Cazco Gets the Blues) and today is often called the Godfather of the American Graphic Novel. Throughout his career of writing and illustrating a variety of books, Phil has always stressed cultural diversity and non-stereotypical characters and has always tried to incorporate a more universal worldview into his work, while at the same time never shying away from serious issues.
In 1985, Phil created Cartoonists Across America & The World to use art and humor to call attention to the global literacy crisis and also to the solutions that the arts can bring to many social and environmental problems. The group has been honored throughout the world; in 1990, at the first Hungarian Cartoon Festival, Phil's oil painting of his reading dinosaur characters was chosen for a postage stamp celebrating the United Nations International Literacy Year.
Phil has often been a guest at art festivals, book shows, and conventions throughout the world and has returned to his father's home country several times, since 1979. In April of 2007, Phil was invited to be a special guest at the 3rd annual China Cartoon and Art Festival in Hangzhou, his father's hometown. He also started a new series of color cartoons with Lieve called The Winged Tiger in China for Little Star magazine based in Beijing.
In November 2014 two women from a small town in Denmark came to see the mural Phil is painting at the historic site of the original McDonald’s in San Bernardino. They asked if Phil would be willing to come to their town and paint a permanent mural. In August 2015, Phil painted a mural at an outdoor park in Ry, Denmark. Ninety 5th grade students helped him paint this mural over a 3 day period. Denmark became the 16th country to have Phil paint a mural since our first mural in Budapest in 1990.
Phil has had solo shows in galleries in San Francisco, Carmel, and New York City and has been a part of group shows in Hawaii, Arizona, and California. In 2006, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History had a five month exhibition of Phil's original oil paintings from his best selling book Theo the Dinosaur. His new work includes watercolors, acrylics and a series of fine art prints. In the year 2015, Phil has more than 90 books to his credit and has painted more than 1800 murals all around the world promoting the arts and literacy.