Reeling in customers by the dozen right as they walked through the doors, Fleeing Fish’s Yeon Poche and Yvonne Yu made their off-campus debut at Minna Art Market.
Showing off their brand-new table bought just for the event, the artist duo displayed their brightly colored prints, stickers and keychains at their booth at the front of the market. A variety of franchises were represented, with selections from the MMORPG “Final Fantasy XVI” and anime “Hunter x Hunter” to the iconic Garfield attracting attendees.
ATEC senior Poche and ATEC sophomore Yu have been friends since high school and started making merch last year. Known on all social media as @eoryuu and @yifxnnn respectively, the two joined to create their shop Fleeing Fish after tabling at campus artist alleys together. Currently, their online shop can be found at https://eoryuu.bigcartel.com/.
“We’re on the same brainwave, so we have similar tastes,” Yu said. “It makes it easier, because we have similar ideas and we’re able to come up with ideas together.”
While on a bus, the two brainstormed the shop title “Fleeing Fish” by mixing their artist names. “Fish” is the English translation of Poche’s “eoryuu” from Korean, and a Chinese character from Yu’s name means “fleeing.” Their logo, showcasing two fish in little hats, was inspired by Cartoon Network’s “The Amazing World of Gumball.”
“We just thought it would be like funny and silly,” Yu said.
Not only are the two able to share the workload and financial burden of running a business, but Poche and Yu found that two minds are better than one to run all aspects of their shop.
“I think the biggest thing [about our partnership] is that we motivate each other,” Poche said. “Because I feel bad that I don’t have something done, I’ll hurry and finish it, because she’s already finished her half. We have these little gacha stickers for Minna. They’re little Sanrio Valentine’s things and she finished hers super early.”
It is early on in Fleeing Fish’s partnership, so the pair are still working to develop the shop, but beyond all else they are focused on creating for a community.
“We made some little loyalty cards because we have a lot of repeat customers,” Poche said. “So like our friends especially but like John Mai [an art club officer]. He buys a lot of our stuff…. so we just wanted to have like a little reward kind of thing.”
Minna Art Market is Fleeing Fish’s first off-campus event. Though they wanted to table at Minna Art Market’s Halloween event, the boothing applications filled up before they were able to fill it out. This time around, they were able to send in an application with the help of a burgeoning Discord server, UTD Arters and Crafters, where resources are provided to support campus artists. The local art community is a large source of inspiration for Poche and Yu.
“I find that very motivating because it’s pretty common for artists at artist alleys to trade art with each other. So it’s just like really fun to see where everyone else is at,” Poche said. “Since a lot of us on campus table at the same campus events, we have a lot of each other’s art already. It’s just like ‘so, what do you have new?’”
Before Minna Art Market, the two tabled at campus events such as the Women in Animation (WIA) Art Connect in spring 2022, Comet Con and the Asian Artists Association’s first artist alley for a Lunar New Year festival. Yu’s tiger stickers decorate laptops and water bottles of students across campus, and Poche’s holographic shard “Trans Pride” print, which he made for a WIA zine, is one of his best-sellers.
“And I think one that might sell more is the trans rights Reigan [from anime “Mob Psycho 100”]. One that says ‘trans rights’ and ‘bottom text,’” Poche said. “I think it’s very telling of the UTD student body.”
It’s a battle for time for Fleeing Fish to balance schoolwork with running their shop. However, with their passion and teamwork, they make it work by communicating constantly and meeting four to five times a month.
“With school, I have to plan things ahead and figure out because a lot of times I end up having to sacrifice certain things,” Yu said. “So I come up with a bunch of ideas for art that I want to make.
Poche created a resource document for artists who are wanting to start a shop and is excited to share his knowledge from running Fleeing Fish with Yu. The pair even dropped useful tips in conversation, like handing out free card readers, which helps artists expand their payment types and keep track of purchases during the chaos of boothing at different events.
“If you’re thinking about selling art, you should do it,” Poche said. “It’s a lot of work but I think it’s very rewarding.”