The Story of a Name.

Hello! and welcome to my first blog post on my new site. Brand new name, brand new website and I'm simplifying everything, but first of all...

Who even am I?


I'm Yvette Ja. For long time followers, people used to know me as Yvette Hawkins, but I changed all that because honestly, for 41 years now, I've felt a complete loss of identity and self and a big part of that comes across in my name.

Of course it shouldn't matter what you are called, you make who you are after all. Except when you are an artist your name is not just you, but your brand, what your work is about, your identity.

I've definitely felt a certain discrimination when it came to applying for asian focused artist exhibitions because my name is not Korean. I have also felt discrimination on my English side for being white enough to be accepted into arts jobs but not asian enough for people to listen when I tell them about racism I have experienced in the workplace.

Being mixed race is tough. Then add in that the industry I work in is white, middle class and honestly, very, very blind.

My mother was ashamed of her Asianess so they purposefully didn't give my brother and I Korean names. For some reason I ended up with a first name which includes a letter that isn't even in the Hangul alphabet - so my Korean family would always mispronounce my name. Mad!

I don't want to be asian and I don't want to be white. I want to be both. I am mixed race and that is how I identify, so I changed my name to Yvette Ja. I have French, English, Korean and Japanese heritage. Ja was the name given to all the women in my family, but is actually Japanese. I did think twice about using it as the connotations of Korean people having Japanese names comes from the Japanese occupation and Korean women being sex slaves, something I obviously have a problem with. But this is a family name and being the only daughter, I feel a pull to carry on the name.

So welcome, make a cuppa and take a look around. It's new. I will be adding my installation portfolio when I find the time. You can commission me for anything paper art related. I also make books, run workshops - my work is rooted in traditional craft practice from Korea and UK - I will bring both of these cultures to any project I work on, and hope that it is accepted and celebrated.

Looking forward to sharing more with you.

Yvette Ja.


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1 comment

Hi Yvette, I came upon your site in a random way, but so happy I did. What you wrote resonated so deeply with me, though we are of different particular experiences. I am an artist living in Los Angeles. I am of German and Mexican origin and the whole focus on identity (how others view you) has been a source of great frustration for me…too white, not white enough. Too brown, not brown enough. In fact, I was on more than one occasion called a “coconut” (brown on the outside, white on the inside) It puts you in a sort of limbo space, a space that one must take over ownership of and make it our own. Anyway, I have recently discovered the wonders of bookmaking. Looking forward to seeing more of what you do.

Rene Vasquez

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