Tuesday, October 7, 2008

What does the wanderer wonder? Exclusive interview with Yoskay Yamamoto

Yoskay Yamamoto is an artist who is receiving much attention both nationally and internationally. His work has caught the eye of serious art buyers and art lovers from around the world, while he himself is a humble character with a creative energy that is fascinating. Watching him work in his studio, hunched over and fully focused, you can just tell he is in his element with the world at his fingertips. He took a moment out of his busy schedule to sit down and discuss his career a bit more in depth.

(Left: Collecting the stars)

TZ: So Yoskay, tell us what part of Japan are you from?
Yoskay: I was born and raised in Toba

TZ: When did you make the long journey to come to America?
Yoskay: When I was 15 I moved to
Santa Barbara, California and I lived there for 7 years. I graduated from high school and attended Santa Barbara City College during my time there.

TZ: Out of all the places, why did you move to Santa Barbara?
Toba, Japan is a sister city of Santa Barbara, Toba used to be a big tourist spot, it’s a small town by the ocean so people would come on vacation there. There was a couple called Mark and Sally, they taught English at an elementary school in Toba, and my family met them. We went to go visit them when I was 10 in Santa Barbara. Around the time I was about to graduate Junior high school, I made my decision to study aboard. That couple did a lot for me; they found me a school and gave me a place to live. They really have helped me and supported me, and I am grateful to have them as my American parents.

TZ: And then a few years later you moved up to San Francisco, what made you go North?
Yoskay: I wanted to do that whole art career thing, so I thought it would be good to move to SF. I was there for a year, and I had to go to school to keep my student visa, I worked 3 jobs and showed at a few coffee shops in SF, like Canvas. I had a show even at the coffee shop I worked at, I convinced the boss to let me put some work up.

TZ: Scott Belcastro said in his interview that you two worked together during your time in Santa Barbara?
Yoskay: Yeah we showed at a few coffee shops there in
Santa Barbara, which were more of a get together than art shows, but it was fortunate that we got to sell our work.

TZ: Where do you go to get inspiration, or what triggers you to get inspired?

Yoskay: I don’t think that I have one place where I get my inspiration. I have interest in certain things that I do, like certain shapes, colors and textures. But I don’t have my own personal reference. It’s just that doing this, I know it will progress in a direction. To see what will happen

TZ: So by doing art you feel like you are progressing as a person in the right direction.
Yoskay: Yeah, basically.

TZ: So with 3 words, can you describe yourself?
Yoskay: I don’t even have three words.......

Soy milk, tofu..miso.......
water, rice and fish. (laughing)

(left: Yoskay in his studio at work)

TZ: What artists could you say that influence you?
Yoskay: There are a lot; it’s hard to narrow it down.

TZ: When you start a painting what do you do first? I noticed when I walked in you were working on a piece with an already finished background, do you start there with the background?
Yoskay: Well first I have to build the frame for the canvas and then Sometimes I sketch it all out first, and other times I just go directly on the canvas.
It really depends; I try not to have a routine when I work.

TZ: So are you a night painter as well?
Yoskay: Yeah, I am an all night painter. I work sometimes until 5 in the morning, it helps too to be living with Tessar Lo, we have similar working hours.

TZ: Do you have preference to a size to work on?
Yoskay: I like painting small little things sometimes, painting for days hunched over, and other times I need to stretch out and go big. I go back and forth a lot.

TZ: So, speaking about your current work: How did you get involved with Project gallery, how did the team form?
Yoskay: I started showing with Beau Bassie at the old space in
Venice, but it was more of a party event then. I did a few group shows, and he started mentioning about starting a gallery full of young artists. He asked me if I would like to join.

TZ: How long have you been working with Beau Bassie?
Yoskay: My first show was in 2005 with him.

TZ: So do you feel like you are part of a strong team of artists?
Yoskay: Yeah it’s nice to see the selection Beau made for the Project team, I think it was the best, some people have left and new ones have come, but I think it was a good choice. So now I feel really comfortable. It’s like we have this healthy competition that keeps pushing me.

We help each other out; it’s a give and take relationship we have formed.

TZ: How are you feeling about your success in the LA art market at the moment?
Yoskay: happy:)

(right: The Will)

TZ: Do you have any new toys coming out soon? As your last one was a great success at Comic Con 08?

Yoskay: no comment....

TZ: What are your future goals? Any dream shows you would like to take part in?

Yoskay: I definitely want to show in my home country of Japan. It would be so nice to show there, and maybe one day move back to my home town, Toba.

(Above: Yoskay in his Downtown LA Studio. )

To see more of Yoskay Yamamoto's fantastic work please visit his website :

Thank you so much Yoskay for this great interview!

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