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Usugrow interview on LTRHDS blog

The LTRHDS show will be launching this his Friday.

The LTRHDS blog has daily updates of some dope mini interviews with the artists, including the following interview with Usugrow.

Keep checking for more.




You have described yourself as a Shinganist–an outsider. You seem to have adopted a very simple way of life… In consumer-driven Japan do you feel like an outsider? Or do you feel that your art is distinctly Japanese?

Certainly, I chose to live very simply in this consumer society… My lifestyle is like a cave person, digging up a potato and exchanging it for a necessary thing. However I don’t consider myself in this world as an outsider even though other people say so.

Sadly but also happily, I am surely a part of society. There are lots of crappy systems… On the other hand, there are also the systems that help us in society. Everything has two sides. You can’t just nibble here and there. I think it’s important to strive and fly the flag… I am not willing to run away from there.

You might get drunk with your mohawk hair, crying against society at a punk rock club, but you will be lining up at the ATM to get some cash and using a post office to send mail to your friend. Don’t you think it’s inconsistent? I am definitely a Japanese artist. You can tell that from my work and lifestyle, in a good and bad way.

wfYour work tends to feature skulls and motifs of death, yet it has a great sense of peace and beauty to it. To what extent is this a reflection of your own philosophy towards being? Do you consider yourself to be a spiritual person?

I used to draw skulls before because they just look cool, but things have changed recently. There is no more interesting motif than a skull, and I think they fit my philosophy. A skull is a symbol of death, but it also represents a life at the same time. A skull is not originally a skull from the beginning.

You lived, died and became a skull. I want to treat a skull more beautifully as a symbol of universal nature in everyday life. Isn’t it good to have a beautiful skull? I don’t enjoy the feeling of discomfort or consider it cool when a kind of skull appears in a horror movie or on the cover of a heavy metal album causing an unpleasant feeling.

Sometimes I like such a mood just for fun, but it’s not what I want. Also, regarding your question if I consider myself to be a spiritual person, I think everyone has a spiritual feeling and feels that in their everyday life.

For example, when you win a lottery, or when you get a phone call from someone that you are just about to ring. It totally depends on how you feel it… Some people think it’s spiritual and some people think that they are just lucky. But I am sure there are some senses that you can feel but can’t explain well.

hasadhuThe subject of your work shares much in common with traditional tattoo art. Have you ever considered becoming a tattooist? Are you directly inspired by traditional Japanese tattoo art?

It’s a tough question. I was influenced by tattoos because I used to love traditional Japanese tattoos, Chicano style, primitive tribals and their history, so I’ve used it in my work before. I actually used to tattoo people sometimes over ten years ago, but I stopped a couple of years ago.

I don’t have good skills and my attitude towards tattoos became more clear. I don’t want to open any stores or become famous as tattoo artist.

Tattoos are a very personal thing and you’ve got to be responsible for the people you tattoo. It’s totally different from product design or fine art. You’ve got to work with one person responsibly and you’ve got to live a life that makes a person feel honored.

The thing I was most influenced by is not the design of Japanese tattoos, but the traditional spirituality. There are lots of tattoo studios, but all the tattoo artists that I admire are working consistently in a very quiet place, not at an open studio.

I would love to study and begin again ‘cause it’s very creative and I should be responsible for those people that I’ve tattooed before in my practice. So, if I ever begin again I wouldn’t want to tell anyone. This may sound annoying, but it’s not true that money solves problems.

terrorThe punk scene had a profound influence over your work. Why do you think music has such an immense power over the way we think and relate to the world? What makes music so powerful and seductive?

As I mentioned above about the spiritual thing… Music is quite spiritual as well. You feel so high when listening to a fast punk beat or heavy metal sound, and you are healed by top-forty cheap love songs that pop into your ears on the street.

We should leave it to the scholars to find out why this happens so we can all live everyday in a creative and positive way by devoting ourselves to music. People have been healed by the power of music since primitive times, so music will never die. Same thing with art. After all, we are all spiritual and primitive animals, I think.

kmtYour art is so precise and delicate… Are you a perfectionist? Are you one of those artists who will destroy a whole piece if one line is out of place? Or are you more relaxed and willing to let your pen guide your hand?

Sometimes I am a perfectionist, sometimes instinctive. Yes, I will destroy a whole piece if one line is out of place, depending on the piece. But this doesn’t happen every time. It totally depends on the work or its purpose. I think it’s necessary to make a choice in everyday life… Whether to believe in your intuition or do everything perfectly.

As for my work, I need perfect details in order to make the comfortable intuitive lines stand out. After all, everything has two sides and it’s important to know both sides, I think. And it’s my philosophy of my art and life.


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