People of Duke Arts: Sarah Yu ’22

Sarah Yu (@sarahyusarahyu on Instagram), a South Carolina native currently living in Charlotte, is a rising junior at Duke majoring in economics and minoring in Visual & Media Studies. In an art course she took in her sophomore year, she connected with the joy she finds in illustration and creativity. That experience, followed by a springtime job creating illustrations and COVID-19 opening up time for self-inspired creativity, has led her to start seeing herself more professionally—as an illustrator, not just a student.

Animation of girl
Image is a part Sarah’s Yu’s @artstigators social media takeover.

How did you find your creative outlet at Duke?

When I first got to Duke, I thought I wanted to major in music and didn’t do much visual art. Then I took an art class my sophomore year with Raquel Salvatella de Prada and it reminded me of how fun it was to create things, so I decided to do the VMS minor. I also joined the Duke Arts CASTs that semester and discovered that a lot of my friends were artists, too! Being surrounded by talented people who are constantly creating inspires me to do the same.

CAST 2020 – 2021 Applications are live now! Apply by Aug 2nd

Woman looking through binoculars

What is a typical creative day with Sarah Yu like?

I like to jog and do yoga in the morning, then spend the first half of the day sketching new ideas or working on existing ones. A lot of my time goes toward picking the color palette, which is my favorite part of any illustration. I use the evenings to learn, whether it be how to use new programs or finding ways to streamline my process.

When she is not creating, Sarah loves travelling, spending time with her dog Beau, and eating good food.

Can you share a bit about how you got into animation?

I started animation after a final project in one of my classes that asked us to use photoshop to depict a chronicle of seven days. I’ve always loved illustrating and wanted to use photoshop to bring my illos to life. I decided to draw seven runway outfits to represent New York Fashion Week and animate them. If you’re curious about how it ended up, check out my portfolio website.

After that project, I started making more illustrations for fun! I’m still learning a lot and find new ways to improve every day.

runway fashion inspired by flowers

While Sarah is at the beginning of her journey as an illustrator, she’s looking towards using her skills for larger-than-life brands. Four accounts she looks to for inspiration are:






Where do you want your illustrations to take you?

Currently, aside from personal projects, I do editorial illustration but would additionally love to create visuals for beauty, fashion, and lifestyle brands. I also really want to paint a mural.

What resources at Duke do you think every student artist should know about?

There are so many, I don’t think I take enough advantage of all of them! But of course the place to start is the Arts Annex. If you make multimedia and graphic content, check out the multimedia project studio right by the Link—it has iMacs, drawing tablets, VR stuff, a green screen and audio booth, and a ton of other equipment I don’t know how to use. I also borrowed a Wacom tablet for the semester from Duke as a part of my class. I’m not sure if there’s a way to borrow one independently, but I would encourage anyone who needs supplies to try to obtain them through Duke before purchasing them!

Omolola Sanusi is a junior from Maryland majoring in literature with a concentration in film and media, cinematic arts and receiving a certificate in decision sciences. As the captain of the Creative Art Student Team, she supports her fellow team members in developing content for Duke Arts and strengthening the arts community at Duke. She encourages all students to explore the varied opportunities Duke offers in the arts.