"Haroshi makes his art pieces recycling old used skateboards. His creations are born through styles such as wooden mosaic, dots, and pixels; where each element, either cut out in different shapes or kept in their original form, are connected in different styles, and shaven into the form of the final art piece. We chatted to Haroshi about his work, processes and influences.
Hi Haroshi! When did you start skateboarding? And when did you start using skateboards in your art? When did you begin to realise that this passion would one day directly influence your art, and the rest of your life?
I started in my 10′s. I used to skate from morning to evening around the time I had just started. It was about 8 years ago when I started making out art from skateboards. That time I didn’t think at all that it would turn into this big thing. Lately I realised that skateboard is saving my life. Until that…I was just about having fun maybe?
Are you still able to find time to go skate these days?!
Hum…It’s difficult now, because the preparation of my solo exhibition are chasing me. But after I want to skate. I also want to go to Venice Skate Park in the middle of the exhibition.
What kind of art were you making before you had the idea to make wooden skateboard sculptures? Or was it having the idea to work with skateboards that got you into carving?
That’s it, I didn’t do carving at all before. Starting manufacturing skateboards from a two-dimensional to a three-dimensional object, I thought that’s creative!! Until that, there were too many two-dimensional stuff, even if I also like those.
Did you study woodwork/art/design somewhere or are you self taught?
I’m self-taught. Aren’t all things made by hands self-taught? Like learning while creating stuff with one’s own hands. That’s really exciting, and now I’m creating at the maximum of my possibilities, bringing my next work to the next step. It’s something possible if one thinks he can do it, and if you can do it for 8 years… ahah!
How are all those little mosaic pieces stuck together? Glue / nails / magic / or are they like puzzle pieces that are cut to fit? (Is it solid wood inside there, or hollow?!)
Well, if I have to mention one, then it’s magic. What you can’t see is mysterious, isn’t it? Also including the working process. I really like parts that other can’t see. If one thinks it’s stuffed, then it’s stuffed. If one thinks that it’s carved, then it’s carved. For whoever sees it, it will make you say that it’s a tough work, right? I’ve said all this, but it’s glue…haha!!
There is an interesting relationship between the modern feel of the colors of the wood, and the style of your carving, but also, simultaneously, the ancient tradition of the wooden sculpture that your work refers to. Is this duality something that inspires you, or more of an incidental by product?
Of course there are things that inspire me, but there are also incidental by products. Basically thinking about self-teaching through, I realise many times that I’m walking the same way a precursor also walked before. Anyhow I don’t think that because of this learning at school is the best option. There are also things that one would just know by walking that way. We are in a time in which shortcuts are obvious, but for me it’s more like leisurely climbing up.
So, the focus of your is often on your process – the exquisite craftsmanship and materiality of these objects. What about the sculptures themselves; what are you exploring in the subjects that you choose to carve?
Uhm…in the most of the cases I just feel like it would be cool to make one particular thing. I don’t think too difficult things. Making what I want, and having someone who is interested in what I make is the best thing.
About how long does it take you to craft a piece (for example, the fire-hydrant or the hammerhead shark?) What is your work process – from idea to final product?
I’ve done the hammerhead shark and Fire-Hydrant in about two months I think? The working process is yet very simple. Cutting, stacking together, smoothing…nah maybe here I should that it’s all about magic haha! The idea behind hammerhead is that I wanted to make a hammerhead shark out of a Christian Hosoi’s skateboard. When I actually received the hammerhead complete skateboard, I thought it was such a pity to cut it!! It’s impossible!That’s why I decided not to glue the hammerhead skate, but to go around it with other skates’ chips to freeze it inside. The reason is that once it’s going to be torn down, it will be possible to take out the whole neat hammerhead skate. It’s like a coffin, isn’t it? It’s the coffin of a thin hammerhead skate that can’t be ridden anymore. Someday, just like in Tutunkhamun’s case, there will be someone who will try to take out what’s inside. That way, the skate inside’s value will overcome the appearance value. Interesting, isn’t it?
What gets you through a long day in the studio? Tea, coffee, music/silence, cigarettes, wine, company or solitude?
Basically I’m all alone. When I’m busy I get my partners and friends to help me, but I really like being alone. Because you know, I can do anything and no one gets angry with me…haha! And I’m doing nothing but work from the morning to the late night. I also listen to music, but maybe I listen more to the radio? I like listening to people chatting. In those time when you feel down, hearing a stupid talk on the radio will make you laugh right. I like laughing, and I also like dearly people who like laughing. On breaks I drink coffee and check on twitter if anyone is saying bad things about me, like a patrol…no just kidding…haha!! Usually I don’t drink alcohol. But when I decide to drink, I’ll drink to pieces.
Can you see a link between the way you approach your skateboarding and the way you approach your art-making?
I can just be proud of this, but when you start anything the first time you can’t do it, right? When I tried doing an ollie the first time I couldn’t even imagine jumping a fire hydrant. It’s the same thing with carving, or with the blind touch on a computer. If you keep trying always and always, one day you will be a professional without even realising it. One important element that I learnt from skate is that keep trying on things that you can’t do without giving up, that will bring you to the end when you make it. Another thing is being free. I can make what I want, I can skate where I want, that’s being free. But at the same time there are risks. That’s what I think art and skate are.
People all over the world have recently been seeing your work and really loving what you do (as well as some really big corporate names too). What has changed and developed for you as a person, artist, and skateboarder over the past few years?
E-mails are coming from all over the world, everyone love my works. I’m really happy. Everyday I think this is a dream right? When I will wake in the morning there will be a totally different reality, right? And being able to sustain myself, to be able to eat everyday thanks to this work, I think this is real happiness. In order to make art I work day and evening at the construction site building. Well, if I should say that it’s fun, it’s fun. Now I can choose to create even from morning to late night. I’m happy. But I can’t keep on with such a good talk. And I’m so busy at work that my ollies have become shorter…haha!
Any advice you know now that you wish you’d known at the start of your career?
Even if bad things happen, keep goin’! There will be a time when I’ll be in the spotlight! Something like that. Then for example, in 3 years you’ll get hernia, that guy will betray you, on that skate bowl you will hurt very badly…haha! Last but not least, I was very happy to receive an e-mail from South Africa. If you can, why don’t you send photos of skates, skate-centred shops, and skaters? Thank you for being interested in what I do! From now on I’ll do my best not to disappoint you all! Cheers to everyone in South Africa! Keep skatin’!"
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HAROSHI INTERVIEW // REVOLUTION DAILY