We recently had the privilege to collaborate with Los Angeles- based artist, Yoskay Yamamoto, on a local private commission project. With a wide repertoire of materials and subject matter, his work is whimsical, graphic and fantastical. His pop-style artwork takes us into his imaginary world, to a happy destination. Born and raised in Japan, he moved to California for high school and never looked back: he has since called CA his home. We interviewed him about his inspirations and his creative journey.
1. You work in many different mediums, from painting, sculpture, murals and toys. From which medium did you start? Does one particular medium speak to you the most? Why?
Originally, I started working on my art in sketchbooks, drawing some characters and copying other artists’ work that I admired. Then I picked up painting when I was in college and eventually moved on to sculptures which led to designing toys.
At the moment, I really enjoy creating installations. I like that I can incorporate all the different mediums into a single art work. Also I enjoy that installation can take over a space and the audience can engage physically with my art.
2. At which gallery are you represented in CA?
I work with Giant Robot on Sawtelle Blvd in Japantown in West Los Angeles; that’s my home gallery and my happy place. I have a solo exhibition coming up on 11th of November. I’m still playing with the title and so far I came up with “ Homebound, “ but not sure if that’s gonna stick. I like the idea of people in search of their place to call home. Being part of the immigrant culture in the US, I feel that’s an appropriate title for my next show.
3. You mentioned that you used to live in San Francisco. How did living in the Bay Area shape your artistic vision/growth?
I lived in San Francisco 12 years ago, first by Candlestick stadium and then relocated to the Mission district afterwards. I moved to the city to pursue art; at the time, it felt very exciting and a lot of the artists that admired lived there.
I always carried my portfolio with me and went to a lot of galleries to see if they would give me a show. In the end I wasn't able to exhibit my work in the galleries I had hoped for, but it definitely taught me how to handle rejection and work harder to create my art. I ended up dropping out of school to spend more time painting.
Another good experience for me was meeting the local artists and having a chance to talk to them about art. People like David Choong Lee, Sam Flores, and Mario Martinez were very inspiring to talk to and had a very genuine way of talking to a young artist like me. It wasn’t much of a technical growth period as an artist, but living in the city definitely fueled my creative soul and helped me to commit to my art on a deeper level.
4. Which artists inspire you? Who do you respect and admire? One artist from the past and one contemporary.
I have too many artist on my list to just name one, but people that inspire me the most are my artists friends and others artists in our art community. A lot of Giant Robot artists inspire me greatly and I feel lucky to live near the city where great exhibitions take place constantly at different galleries and museums.
5. What is the single most important message you want to relay through your art, to the viewer?
Currently, I’m focusing on creating art work that sends or creates positive energy or a good vibe when the viewers see them. If I can uplift people’s sprit or make them smile, I feel that I have done my job as an artist. :)