Sometimes you need to break the barriers. Once you get through the barriers, your life becomes easier and easier. The best way is not just to survive, but to thrive.
Kentaro Yoshida is an artist making his mark on contemporary Australian surf culture with his own style of imagery inspired by Japanese myths and comic books.
A full-time graphic designer and illustrator for creative agency M&C Saatchi, Kentaro is also now gaining a profile as an artist. He’s designed art for surfboards and clothing as well as taking part in exhibitions.
Illustrations of animated skeletons and skulls adorn the walls of his apartment near Sydney’s famous Manly Beach where he’s made his home.
“I did a mural in my friend’s surf shop. It was quite big, and then people started recognising me as an artist,” he says. Since then he’s had group, dual and solo shows and also does commissions for Billabong, Hurley, Mambo, Vans, Converse and other brands.
He’s lived in Australia for about a decade and completed a Bachelor of Visual Communications at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), as well as becoming a keen surfer.
As a child, growing up in a Japanese fishing village 300 km northwest of Tokyo, he spent a lot of time in his mum’s studio drawing comic book characters. His mum, a glass artist, encouraged his creativity.
“Seeing my mum make a career as an artist made me think that I, too, could be an artist or creator,” he says.
He came to Australia at the age of 18, having chosen Sydney as the least expensive international destination to learn English. He first went to language school and then took an extended Diploma of Design at UTS Insearch.
Kentaro learned how to write academic essays and do presentations, as well as gaining experience collaborating with people of many different nationalities.
“There were students from Indonesia, Hong Kong, China, Korea and some Europeans. I was the only Japanese student – so it was kind of easy to hang out with these different groups,” he says. After three semesters at UTS Insearch, he’d laid a foundation to transition to UTS.
During his degree, Kentaro did an internship with the surf brand O’Neill and created designs that were later used on some of their clothing. For the first time he saw how he could combine his passion for surfing and art.
After he graduated, a friend helped him find a job at M&C Saatchi where he’s worked on campaigns for large corporations such as the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Google, Optus, NRMA, IAG and Lexus over the past five years.
At the same time, he’s expanded his creative practice, advising other young people to network. “Sometimes you need to break the barriers. Once you get through the barriers, your life becomes easier.”