DRINK TO REMEMBER
“Good Artists Copy; Great Artists Steal”. I never really understood that quote growing up, but as I got older, it dawned on me how much design is inspired by what came before it. Inspiration for creative folk is everywhere. But how many artists do you know who steal from their own mum?
Enter Mr Kentaro Yoshida. Kenny is a Japanese artist who now calls Sydney’s Northern Beaches home. He’s been a friend of the Heaps Normal fam for some time, with tons of common friends and connections. A while back we started riffing on the idea of working with Kenny on a project together. We really wanted it to be interesting and meaningful to him and to us, so we worked with him to dive into his backstory. Man, did we find an interesting tale.
Kentaro left his native Japan aged 18. An aspiring illustrator, from a small fishing village, he couldn't speak a word of English and landed down under with a pencil case and a dream. He wanted to surf, create art, make enough to get by, and live a happy and fulfilling life under the sun. With no social network and limited English skills, he did what a lot of us do and went down to the pub. If he could get a few beers in him and work on his confidence, surely he could find some mates. Just like his drawings used to connect him with his peers at school in Japan, chugging beers down at the local watering hole helped him connect with strangers in a foreign country. The crazier the night was, the more those friendships blossomed and deepened. A slippery slope for some, but not for Kentaro. He’s got his head screwed on properly. Knows right from wrong. Probably a result of good parenting.
Today, you’ll find Kenny’s work far and wide. He’s collaborated with bands like The Pixies and Blink-182, produced murals for General Pants and Calvin Klein, and calls brands such as Vans, Converse, Fuji and Fanta clients. He spends his time working in his home studio, surfing most days up and down the coast, and spending quality time with his beautiful wife, Aco, and their two little girls - Lily and Coco. I ask him what his biggest inspiration is in the way he works and operates. “My mum”, he says, without flinching. Didn’t even have to think twice about it. For the last 30 years, his mum has worked as an independent glass artist in Japan, honing an ancient skill and putting her own spin on it. She’s mastered the art, has a solid customer base, and she’s the reason Kenny now lives the life that he lives. She wanted him to grow as a person and have the best opportunities in life, so she pushed him to leave home and chase his dreams. “If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be here doing what I do, with the family and the lifestyle that I have. She’s my biggest inspiration for sure”.
We’re stoked to shine a light on Kenny’s work, and we’re proud to launch the limited edition Heaps Normal x Kentaro Yoshida merch drop. ‘Drink To Remember’ is Kentaro’s take on his relationship with alcohol. What used to be a bit of a crutch to help grease the wheels of those early expat pub chats now take on a different role - he has a beer with his mates, spends time with his family, and besides being a hyper-talented artist, he’s a genuinely good dude.
The limited edition Heaps Normal x Kentaro Yoshida capsule is available to buy now.