INTERVIEW

SKATE OF THE ART

An Interview with Haroshi

August 4, 2021

Have you always aspired to create art, or did you discover your calling later in life?

I was the kind of a kid who got sick and went to the doctors often. My beginning is when I spent time making various things with my grandfather at home. I was creating things all my life, but I had never considered myself an artist when I was young. The word, “artist” sounded unrealistic to me until people started telling me that what I created was art.

I went to jewelry design school and got a job working for a jewelry production company. At this company I worked independently and was in charge of making and mass-producing prototypes- making 100 identical molds which I was skeptical about. I thought that every piece needs to be unique and so I started creating jewelry out of wood. My partner, Haru, said to me, “why don’t you use those?”, point at the large pile of used skateboards in the corner of the room.

Tokyo Pop Underground, Jeffrey Deitch, Los Angeles, CA, 2019. Photo by Elon Schoenholz
Courtesy of Jeffrey Deitch and Nanzuka

Do you find inspiration from artists or other things in life? How do these inspirations inform what you create?

There are many artists who have inspired me. Now I find most of my inspiration from nature, historical monuments, and religions. It felt to me that simple shapes of ancient art were made from what people felt instead of what they saw. To create something precise, you need your skills, but I learned that creation should come from the heart.

 

What was a pivotal moment in the evolution of your work? Can you talk about your first show and how that felt?

I have always been consistent in creating at the same pace so there is no pivotal moment I can think of. For my first show there was a typhoon, and it was raining so hard on open day. I remember waiting for a long time and being sad because no one came to the gallery until it was closing time. Unlike now, there was no social media, and we were handing out flyers back then to advertise. I still think about that day from time to time.  

A Vulture Awaits the Dead, Haroshi exhibition Pain at StolenSpace Gallery, London, England.
Top Image courtesy of Designindaba.com
Bottom Images by Sasha Bogojev, courtesy of Arrestedmotion.com

Tell us about your process. Do you begin with an image or a concept?

With a vague image in mind, I start my creation. I do not have a clear picture of the end product at the beginning because I believe that there is the ultimate answer within myself.

 

What informs your work? As a visual artist, are you inspired by music, film, science, literature or other art forms?

I usually listen to audiobooks while I work. Thoughts and imaginations of various authors inspire the creation of my sculptures. I always try to think about ‘not thinking’. I don’t get inspired by anything specific. What I have around me is always original, so I don’t go out of my way to search for inspiration. If I do that, I get uninformed with the world.

Left: Skull. Right: Skateboarder’s Unity
© Haroshi. Images courtesy of Haroshi.com

What do you enjoy most about the work you do?

I look forward to and enjoy creating something new every single time. Although we are not machines, we can’t help but create something similar to what succeeded in the past – so if my current work starts to resemble a piece I created before, I take a step back once, then restart my work.

 

What was the most challenging project that you worked on?

The most challenge project that I worked on was MOSH PIT, that was exhibited at Jeffrey Deitch. It usually takes a team to create such a large project, but for me, it was just me and my wife. It took about a year for us to finish it. My wife and I have always been working together from the start. She does not want to be seen, and I am the one who is in public as Haroshi. It’s my wife’s job to cut the skateboards. I truly believe she cuts more skateboards than anybody in the world.

© Haroshi. Mosh Pit (2021). Carved skateboard elements H182 x W365 x D2 cm.
Courtesy of Nanzuka from the Haroshi Solo Exhibition: | Versus | Image from Tokyoweekender.com

How do you think NFTs will change the future for artists?  

Artists have always had difficult and bitter experiences; they don’t get much profit from the art that is sold at high price at the auction houses, and they don’t have the rights for their past procuts like music or movies. I hope that NFTs will shift that dynamic and will help artists to share all the benefits of the art created.

Haroshi

Haroshi was born in 1978 in Tokyo, Japan, where he is currently based. As a passionate skateboarder from his early years to present, Haroshi possesses a thorough knowledge of the anatomy of a skateboard and all of its parts, including the decks, trucks and wheels. With no formal art training, he adapted the determined perseverance, freedom of expression and DIY ethos of skate culture, into creating works of art.

haroshi.com
instagram.com/haroshi