Known for his loud, grinning murals, Japan-based artist yoshi47 has been on our radar for Random Acts of Art for many moons.
He’s friends with our pal Kentaro and the Single O Japan crew (he’s even tagged the Japan tasting bar wall!) and is currently travelling all over the world to soup up bare walls with his signature smiley. Read on to learn how this surfing painter, creator of our 13th art bag design, found inspiration in animation, his talented wife, and the emperor of Japan!
FIRST THING’S FIRST. WHAT’S YOUR COFFEE ORDER? DO YOU BREW YOURSELF?
It depends on my mood actually. I like sour stuff sometimes in the morning, especially before surfing, but I like bitter roasted coffee when I eat something sweet like donuts. I do brew myself when I feel like it, but not every day.
CONGRATS ON YOUR RECENT WEDDING! WHO’S THE LUCKY LADY & IS SHE A CREATIVE AS WELL?
Thank you! Her name is Rutsu, the sweetest person I’ve ever met. She is a painter as well and we don’t have any similarities in our styles, but recently, her work has inspired the way I paint so much!!!
YOUR SMILEY FACE MOTIF IS ICONIC! WHAT’S THE DEAL THERE?
In my childhood, I guess around 1989, I watched an animation called “WARAU SALESMAN’which was a total black comedy and super creepy. Since then, I started drawing that creepy salesman’s smile on any place I could and have kept doing that till now. I really liked the way that creepy salesman punished people who had a greedy mind toward money, sex, status and all the negative stuff that you can think of in this human society. He sells mysterious products to the customers and they use them wrongly…even though they know that something terrible thing will happen if they break the rules.
OF ALL THE MEDIUMS YOU USE TO CREATE YOUR WORK, WHICH IS YOUR FAVOURITE AND WHY?
Right now, I like house paints and spray paints more than ever. I do murals a lot these days and when I visit different countries you realize that each place has a different climate. For example, Mexico has high altitude and it can be hard to breathe, North China has severe air pollution issues, South China has subtropical climate so you need to deal with guerrilla heavy rain and sudden temperature changes, August in Portland is severely hot. Being a muralist is more like doing an outdoor activity; I need to be physically strong first of all and consistent in using sprays and rollers up and down. Say hi to sunrise and bye to the end; you are out there forever, alone, dealing with a gigantic wall. I just love outdoor activities so much, so it fits me perfectly.
WHAT’S YOUR CONNECTION TO THE NUMBER 47?
When I was in junior high, I had an English-speaking contest in my state, and won 3rd prize. Then I got a ticket to a national competition speaking in front of the Emperor of Japan in Tokyo. My number was “47” and I thought it was my lucky number, and since then “47” appears in my life a lot — like my basketball jersey number was 4, 7, 47. I decided to put that number on my first e-mail address along with my name. Then, as you can tell, it became a part of my artist name in order to differ from others named “Yoshi” in this world.
WHICH ARTIST HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST INSPIRATION?
Absolutely my wife, first of all. David Choe, Damon Soule (his collective for sure), Ferris Plock, Kelly Tunstall, OG SLICK. I mean, there are so many artists who I’ve met through my life.
TELL US ABOUT THE LARGEST CANVAS YOU’VE EVER WORKED ON!
A 25m x 15m wall in Portland. It was humongous. I want to paint the biggest face in the world, so if you know any places that I can paint, then please let me know. I want aliens to see my big face from the sky!
YOU’RE CURRENTLY LIVING IN THE COUNTRY – WHAT DO YOU ENJOY ABOUT BEING AWAY FROM THE BIG SMOKE?
I do enjoy being part of a nature society. Living cost is amazingly cheap out here and we are able to buy a big house and big land with full of nature someday. Air is good, food is good, time runs slowly, and people are shyer, so I don’t have to deal with those who speak too much. It’s 30 minutes to the city, 4 hours driving to Tokyo, and my lovely surf ocean is right there. I can’t think of going back to the city and living in a small house and small world anymore.