• Billabong Gallery - Kentaro Yoshida

Kentaro Yoshida was born and raised in Japan and moved to Australia at the age of 18 where he's spent the last 10 years of his life. He spends his days working as an artist on Sydney's Northern Beaches applying his craft to hand drawn illustrations, digital art, painting walls, surfboards and just about any blank surface that he can find.

How did you get started as an artist?

I have been drawing since I was a kid. But I think I started being an artist / illustrator as a proper career a couple years ago. I thought I was too late to get into the industry but I think I am slowly working it out.

What was the inspiration for your capsule collection with Billabong?

I have been exploring loneliness and incorporating feeling solo into my art since last year and I think it somehow reflected to everything I did for this capsule collection. I think the art means to be more like the feeling of being a gypsy or escaping to the middle of nowhere rather than just surfing and beach life. It sounds dark but it's not meant to be negative and I tried to execute my mood and what was connecting me to surfing and beach culture visually.

What makes this collection with Billabong special?

As I mentioned before, mood of loneliness. These are coming from my past 13 years experience of living overseas and how I have adapted to somewhere I never knew before. I think surfing is a solo practice and releasing yourself somehow and that’s what I like about surfing even though I like to surf with my mates too. I have been transforming these experiences into pieces of art and that's something that I think makes my artwork more unique. I was really glad to work on this stuff with Billabong as they gave me complete creative freedom. The fact that they made this come to life is special to me and hopefully the clothing will be liked by audiences too.

What’s your favorite piece from your collection?

I think the one skeleton sits on the beach by himself [the Vagabond Tee]. It represents myself in illustration and is a key graphic of the collection.

Billabong Gallery Collection Vagabond Tee Kentaro Yoshida

If you had to describe your art in one word, what would it be?

Line work. (sorry, 2 words)

What’s inspiring you at the moment?

Apart from checking out what my favourite artists and illustrators work on, studying English again is inspiring me a lot these days (I am originally from Japan). I have collected bunch of Aussie slang and expressions from conversation with my friends and I'm thinking of making my own English book with my illustrations. Visualising these words is sometime difficult but it's a fun exercise for me and it is inspiring and motivating me to work on new personal stuff.

If you were stuck on a desert island, what’s the one thing you would want to have with you and why?

A case of Stone Wood beer, a craft beer from Byron Bay and my long time favourite beer. At least it’d release me from thirst for a bit.

Your bio also mentions that you were born in Japan and spent a decade in Australia – can you tell us about how each of those places have influenced your art and the connection you have to each place?

I was born and grew up in Japan. I was that kid who loved manga comic so much and always doodled characters on my notebook. And I moved to Sydney when I was 18, where I met surfing and coastal culture. When I started drawing again here, it was really natural for me to draw stuff with a clean outline which is one of basic techniques of drawing Japanese manga comics. Through life in Australia, I have been drawing bunch of different objects, concepts and messages which are influenced by my experience of living overseas. But they are based on the way of execution I have been building through my background, Japanese visual culture, I believe. Now I try to let myself be free for any experiences & opportunities happening in Australia, as well as try to respect, re-learn and consider my background and what I connect with my home, the country of the Rising Sun.

Thanks so much to Kentaro for his time! Check out his Billabong Gallery Collection here. See more of his art at kentaroyoshida.com and follow him on Instagram at @kenatro_yoshida

Shop the Billabong Gallery Collection by Kentaro Yoshida