Dav Yendler ’03 named 2024 Life in the Arts recipient

Dav Yendler ’03, a graduate of the Harker Conservatory with a certificate in theater, was named as the next recipient of the conservatory’s Life in the Arts award, which recognizes Harker Conservatory certificate program graduates who have pursued careers in the performing arts after graduation.

Yendler was highly active in the performing arts as a Harker upper school student, appearing in the fall play and spring musical every year from 2001 to 2003, including such productions as spring 2002’s “Little Shop of Horrors” and fall 2003’s “Dracula.”

He also got involved with student-organized activities, such as hosting open mic events where students were invited to perform.

While attending the University of California at San Diego, Yendler studied theater and spent a year abroad at London’s Queen Mary School. There, he discovered an interest in directing and returned to UCSD to coach a short-form comedy troupe. “The year abroad was definitely the highlight of my college experience,” he said.

Yendler eventually ended up in Chicago working at theaters in the area as an intern, directing assistant and sometimes-director. He became heavily involved with About Face Theatre, which specializes in producing work by LGBTQ+ artists. Yendler began creating artwork for About Face’s billboards, advertisements, brochures and marketing materials, and later shifted his focus to being a full-time illustrator.

During this time, he also attended “Salonathon” variety events organized by his friend Jane Beachy, which he said “was the fabric of my social and artistic life in Chicago. I developed my own artistic voice at Salonathon and learned how to synthesize my visual arts and performance sides.”

After relocating to Los Angeles in 2016, Yendler worked odd jobs (including graphic design for Women of Wrestling) while continuing to pursue his career in illustration, and published a visual essay entitled “MY BOD,” exploring his struggles with body image. “MY BOD” caught the attention of internet media giant BuzzFeed, which produced it into an animated short.

Yendler has since found representation from a literary agent and is slated to publish his first graphic novel, “TSILYA,” in 2026. He also began his own version of the “Salonathons” he attended in Chicago. “It was nice to make a community in LA, especially as a bunch of old Salonathon-ites from Chicago began moving here,” he said. “I was able to introduce these two communities together and they’ve wholly come together.”

Yendler will be presented with the 2024 Life in the Arts award on May 18 during the Senior Showcase, during which all of this year’s Harker Conservatory grads will be featured.

The Harker Magazine

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