Yusuke Hanai is a talented Japanese surfer/artist who mixes fluid pastel swirls and fine line ink. He captures the essence of surfing in a look that is both vintage and modern, mixing Seuss with Griffin. We were fortunate to share a few words with him.
What was life like growing up?
When I was child, I would always stay indoors reading “The Dinosaur Illustrated Book” and “The Animal Illustrated Book.” I would spend my time doodling strange creatures. My childhood dream was to be a zookeeper. I had asthma, so I couldn’t play outside much, so I stayed in the house a lot. My parents pushed me into swimming and soccer to make my body stronger. Playing soccer helped a lot, too. I made many friends with whom I would later start surfing with.
Who did you look up to and admire when you were a young man?
Rick Griffin and Dr.Seuss.
When did you get your first surfboard?
When I was in high school. I found it in the neighbor’s trash!
What was the feeling you had when you first stood on a surfboard?
I felt like I was standing on bird wings. It felt like I was flying.
Where did you interest in art come from?
I’ve always loved to doodle since I was a kid. I would always doodle Japanese and American comic characters. I still doodle.
What is your process when creating your art?
I love to make my life look fun. I always try to find something fun and draw happy things.
Of all the places you have traveled to, what place in particular stands out? And why?
San Francisco. When I was 21, I traveled to California and I fell in love with the city. The people were nice and the town was so beautiful. There is so much interesting culture in SF. I moved to SF when I was 24. I stayed there for a year. I still love San Francisco. I want to go back there someday.
What is it that makes you such a nice person? What code do you live by?
To be a good friend. I can’t do anything by myself. Friends will always give me good things, so I try to bring them good things,
Who/what inspires you?
Surfers, waves, and all creatures.
What is the greatest thing you have learned in your life?
Having friends. Now I have many friends from Japan and other countries. They enlarge my world.
Do you have any regrets or wish you had done something differently?
So far, no. If anything, I just want to draw better.
What meaning does surfing hold for you and how has it changed your life?
Surfing is my way to connect with nature. I can feel the seasons and feel the power of nature. And I find color, which gives me so much inspiration.
What brings you the most happiness in the world?
Surfing and hanging out with my friends and chilling out with my girlfriend and dog.
Who are some of the people you feel are shaping the path for surfing today?
There are so many good surfers in the world. I couldn’t just name one, but I do like to watch Rob Machado and Joel Tudor ride.
What is in your current quiver? What is your favorite board? Your favorite surfspot?
I have a 5’10” MSF G-2 single fin, an Eric Walden twin fin and a 6’1” tri-fin Lost Speed Demon.
What’s your favorite meal?
Burritos. Thinking about them makes me miss San Francisco.
What are you currently listening to on your iPod?
What’s next for Yusuke Hanai?
I’m working on a logo and identity for the Green Room Festival 2010. I will have Tokyo art show in April as well as an upcoming show at the Surf Indian in San Diego. I hope to see all of you there!
More information on Yusuke Hanai can be found here.