Kentaro Yoshida: Illustrator: Sydney

I’ve started doing live painting and murals this year. More excitingly though, I’ve started getting to knowing and connecting with more artists, illustrators and other Sydney-based people in creative industries

Name: Kentaro Yoshida
Occupation: Illustrator/Graphic Designer
Hometown: Toyama, Japan
Current Location: Manly, Northern beaches

Kentaro Yoshida was born and raised in Japan, and moved to Australia when he was age of 18 to study English. It’s quite hard and competitive to get into University in Japan so his mother, a fellow creative and glassblower encouraged him to travel and study abroad.

Kentaro studied at UTS in Visual Communications for 4 years with an internship the surf brand O’Neill. Then he worked as a Junior Graphic Designer for experience which also helped secure his working visa.

Kentaro’s personal style comes from his love of surfing. He is often drawing his creations on surfboards and more recently on mural walls working alongside local legends The Beach Burrito Company. AR spent the afternoon with Kentaro…

When I was a child I wanted to be… A manga (cartoon) artist

The mentors/heroes in my life when I was growing up were… Manga artist Akira Toriyama. He created Dragon Ball and many other comic books and was my hero growing up. I used to look at his books and posters all the time. I was also into the Manga called ‘CROWS’ by Hiroshi Takahashi when I was at high school. Motor cycle gang from that comic was so badass and my favorite.

The studies I took to get where I am…My mom has been a glass artist since I was young and she often took me to her studio where I could draw and play with clay. I then took drawing classes at high school. After high school, when I came to Australia, I studied a Bachelor of Visual Communication at UTS (University of Technology, Sydney). In my third year I did an internship at O’Neill Australia and I started working more with marker/line drawing & digital illustration. I also started painting on surfboards around this time when one of my friends, a professional Japanese surfer, asked me paint her surfboard.

When I finished studying the next stage in my life was… Finding full-time job as a graphic designer in order to find visa sponsorship and stay in Australia. I didn’t consider working as an illustrator at the time — it seemed much more difficult to get into than graphic design. To me, staying in Australia was my primary goal. It was also kind of an instant decision as I just wanted to spend bit more time in northern beaches after uni.

I’m most creative when… I’ve thrown back a few energy drinks and got my earphones blasting.

The tools I can’t live without… Ultra-fine black POSCA and Heineken

I’m inspired by… a lot of different things like Japanese traditional drawing and cartoons, traditional American tattoos, flowers and plants with natural intricacies; I also love the insanely detailed work from I LOVE DUST, Jeremy Fish, Ben Brown, Broken Fingaz Crew and heaps of other super talented artists and illustrators.

I’m currently reading… Not reading, but I am looking at ‘TATTOO COLOURING BOOK’ by MEGAMUNDEN, an artist from the UK. I haven’t coloured it in yet and probably won’t unless I get spare one.

The website I hang out on the most… Dropmark, where I collect all my visual inspiration images digitally.

I’m currently listening to… A lot of Japanese hip-hop at the moment: KOHH, 5LACK and Shing02 as well as freestyle rap battles which are so much fun to listen to. I wish I could rap hahaha.

My favourite place in the world… Sydney’s Northern beaches. I’ve done most of my surfing here and got to know a whole bunch of cool locals: surfers and people from the creative industries alike. I feel like it’s my second home.

I would like to travel to… Any great surfing spot. I’ve always wanted to go to Mexico and small islands in south part of Japan to surf in just board-shorts.

My travel essentials are… iPhone, Posca and notebook.

One thing I would like to do but haven’t got around to it yet… Make some good quality screen-printed poster, t-shirts and trucker hats for my friends and, hopefully, set up an online store to sell a few later in the year.

The obstacles that have come my way… Forging my own style has always been an on-going challenge. I like using popular motifs often in my work but the challenge, for me, is in reinterpreting them in my own way. It’s a challenge in avoiding cliché and, instead, giving popular ideas a fresh perspective.
Personally, sorting out my visa in Australia is difficult too. It puts pressure on me and my work with a lot of uncertainty. Fortunately, that should be resolved soon and I can concentrate on my work again.

The highlights over the past 12 months have been… I’ve started doing live painting and murals this year. More excitingly though, I’ve started getting to knowing and connecting with more artists, illustrators and other Sydney-based people in creative industries.
Until recently, I’d only been connecting through social media — Instagram, Tumblr, etc — but now I’ve met more people face-to-face, gained bit of exposer for my work and been able to hang out with awesome and talented new people. It’s all given me some great opportunities with group shows, artist collaborations and commissioned work.

The latest project I’m working on… I’m working on a few commissioned surfboards paints, as well as little illustration for sunglass label and street wear brand. I am also painting a mural live this weekend, which is exciting too. And soon I’m about to start collaboration with my mate to produce a set of skull sculptures, which will, hopefully, turn out well too!

Advice I have to share for those who want to get into this profession… I’m still pretty new to the profession myself so I’m still working that out. But, if anything, I’d say keep drawing and keep getting inspiration from things you like and trust. Use other artists/creators as inspiration by keep honing your own style. That’s perhaps what will make you stand out from everyone else, no one else can do you better than you.

Do What You Want (finish this sentence)…and worry about the hangover tomorrow.

Draw your current state of mind…


Website // Instagram

Photography: Katie Kaars

Interview: Michelle Owen