Welcome to volume one of Sophisticated Banter; an enlightening and raw reveal of about the different members of the OTIS family. From Western Australia to Southern California, we'll shoot the shit with some of our favorite artists, musicians, surfers, designers, models and everything in between. No bells, no whistles, just good old-fashioned conversation, preferably over beers, or coffee, depending on the time of day.
The first face we'll welcome into the mix is Japanese born and raised, Sydney-based artist Kentaro Yoshida. He moved to Australia when he was 18 and hasn't looked back. He boasts an eclecticly talented portfolio of work, from international brand campaigns to locally commissioned pieces, he'd prefer to round out his art days with an evening surf and a pint full of suds.
Clock in and learn more about what inspires Kentaro as an artist, what he likes to do outside of the studio and some of his proudest moments as an artist.
Where are you originally from and how has that shaped who you are today?
I am from a little fisherman town in Toyama, which is the middle north part of the main island in Japan.
I moved to Sydney when I was 18 and I have been living in Manly since then.
What’s your favorite aspect of living there?
I started surfing when I moved to Manly and have lived here my whole Australian life, so I feel really comfortable living here.
How did your passion for art begin?
I was a doodling kid back in school and always liked drawing. My mom was a glass artist so art was always around me when I was a little boy.
Just like surfing, art has no rules. Kentaro, drawing whatever lines he pleases.
What artists are you most inspired by? Did you look up to anyone growing up?
I have many favourite illustrators and artists who inspire me. If I were to pick one, I have to say it’s my mom. She has a little glass studio in my home town and has run it by herself for the last 30 years. She’s always producing and creative and she challenges herself still at the age of 60. She never changes her attitude and is the greatest thing to watch her work beside her.
Kentaro, in the zone at his studio
Why do you make art?
Drawing is something I am best at so I want to keep making art, developing myself and my world. Also I like surfing, but I am not good at it so I chose to pursue art and illustration for my career. This provides me slightly more chance to do better things haha.
Kentaro mixing his passion for surfing and painting to create these beautiful sleds for Mambo
What does art bring to the world? What would the world be without artistic expression?
I think it helps communicating, entertaining and enhancing our lives. I use art in this way to adapt living in new environments I had no idea about.
Do you listen to music while creating art or silence is needed to be in the zone? If so, what types of music..
I do listen to music while drawing and painting. I listen to quite a broad genre of music but I like to listen to Japanese 90’s Rock n Roll brands while painting.
Kentaro's official gig poster for the Pixies
If you could eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Maybe just stay classic with rice and miso soup. I would be sick of eating ramen or sushi everyday although those are my favourite foods.
If you could live one place for the rest of your life where would it be?
That is a hard question as I feel Manly is my second home and have almost spent half of my life here. I would say my hometown in Japan. I could still have a good surf there with colder water and my family is there. It is a pretty cozy town.
Kentaro's rendition of Australia Day - fairly spot on we'd say
If you could listen to one band for the rest of your life, who would it be?
Maybe “Thee Mechelle Gun Elephant”, which is a Japanese Rock n Roll band from the 90’s and my heroes in high school. It was music we listened to while we were teenagers that will never get old or die.
If you could surf one type of board for the rest of your life what would it be?
Shortboard – I still wanna rip and enjoy hollow bowls.
If you were stuck on a remote island and could choose one person and one thing to bring along…
That is a super hard question! I would have to bring my wife and my little girl – can’t choose between the two!
What’s the project you are most proud of – that moment when you hit cloud nine?
It would be the solo show I did in 2016 called “Solo”. It was all about interpreting my experience of living overseas for the last 12 years. I like how it all came together and the pieces were based on my unforgettable and meaningful memories.
Night surfing never looked so good
Walk us through your process – from picking up your tools to your finishing touches – what goes into creating your work?
For my personal work, ideas come from anywhere. It can be daily life walking the streets to hanging out in the pub. Then I try to visualize ideas and concepts I came up with by sketching them. I then execute in either digital or hand paint.
What do you love most about the lifestyle you lead?
I have lived in Manly for the last 14 years and finally started knowing more locals in this town. I still remember the moment when I first moved here and I felt I was in the middle of nowhere. So, I feel super comfortable living here now and love it here. Surfing with my mates and going to local pubs never gets boring and I am happy to know I am adapting more to Australian coastal culture and living a good life.
Kentaro adding his unique flair to the streets of Manly
What does your perfect day look like from sunup to sundown?
Surfing offshore glassy waves from first light. Then eating late brekky or early lunch with my girls and smashing a couple beers. I’ll then have a nap or paint and draw and go back to the ocean for a second surf before sunset. Round it off my having dinner locally, smashing a few more beers at the local pub or out the back of my house.
What’s the most challenging part of your job? What is the most rewarding?
I think the most challenging part of my job is refining myself and my work, which includes execution and perception. At the moment I feel my work has been changing each year so I am happy about it. The most rewarding moment can be as simple as when people get what I wanted to tell them through my work, making them laugh or be emotional.
What does the future hold for you and the OTIS team – any collaboration opportunities?
Yes for sure some collaboration opportunities. I would love to do something like make T-shirts or a painting for you guys – lets make it happen!
Where do you see yourself in ten years? Any big goals or life aspirations?
I would love to continue what I am doing now in the next years and to become a better illustrator and artist. I would like to have more art shows overseas also. I also want to be a better surfer too ahha!
We've always felt each of our ambassadors have a unique lust for life, and this remains true for one of our favorite Australia-based artists. Stay inspired and follow Kentaro on his artistic adventures around Sydney @kentaro_yoshida.
There's no topping mineral glass when it comes to lens materials. But what goes into actually making our glass lenses? It's a uniquely special process that OTIS global ambassador big wave surfing legend and environmental activist Greg Long feels passionately about. Tune in as Greg breaks things down; from sourcing the materials to refining the glass pucks before frame installation.