Born and raised in Japan, but now living in Sydney’s Northern Beaches, artist Kentaro Yoshida has a singular vision of Australia- one where surf and skate culture is reimagined in the illustrative style of Japanese manga. Yes, Kentaro is an art legend in his own right, but what happens when you pair one of the countries’ most prolific illustrators with one of its most iconic brands?
Enter, the recent BONDS x Kentaro Yoshida collaboration, an ode to Australiana aesthetic which sees both contributors at the top of their game. For BONDS, it’s the stuff we’ve come to know and love from a brand with equal Aussie renown to that of Vegemite- high-quality threads and that familiar comfy waistline. Add in an array of Kentaro’s colourful designs and you’ve got a collection that’ll have you walking to the beach in your knickers and nothing else (or paired with BONDS’ board shorts if that’s a little too showy).
As part of our Meet The Maker session with BONDS, we caught up with Kentaro for a chat about his creative process, the influence of his beachside neighbourhood, and his artistic pairing with one of Australia’s most iconic brands. Peep the full interview below, and shop the Bonds x Kentaro limited edition range online here or at select Bonds stores.
Thank you! I never thought I’d work with [an] iconic Aussie brand like BONDS so I really appreciate the guys who made it happen.
Initially I got contacted from BONDS, and at the first meeting, I was told that they like the humour in my work and how it has a mix of Japanese and Australian feelings. So they gave me a theme of Australiana, from my point of view, for the entire concept. I am pure Japanese (born and grew up in Japan) and I never thought I’d be asked about that theme.
I also have lived in Sydney since I arrived in Australia, so I have local friends and know the area well. But I have only travelled the East Coast of Australia, so I thought it’d be a great opportunity to showcase my work to people from other parts of Australia where I’ve never been to.
BONDS picked up on few motifs I always illustrate, such as plants and the ocean, and a few Australiana humour ideas as a flash sheet style artwork, which I often draw. Other than that, I started sketching on paper to create some mock-up for T-shirts, as well as fun ideas for flash sheets. In general, they liked my initial sketches so the process was smooth and good fun.
The print came out really good on T-shirts, and the fabric was nice too, so I was stoked. I have worked with quite a few brands and clients, and made T-shirts or merchandise. But I’ve never made underwear, so it was all new and exciting to see the outcome. It came out great!
I was one of those drawing kids when I arrived in Australia in 2004. I drew lots of meaningless stuff and I even drew some comics in Japanese style then. But I never thought I’d live in Australia for good, and work as an illustrator and artist. And I never imagined I’d work with BONDS either, so there are lots of surprises for sure.
I’ve spent fair bit of time in Manly and I was skating around Corso Street every day when I was 18, so it’d definitely be a mixed feeling of both surprised and stoked if I saw people wearing them.
Time flies, but it was a great decision for me to come to Australia, and I am glad that I could overcome a few turning points and tough times to keep living overseas. I hope everyone likes my work and enjoys my humour and perspective of living by the beach in Australia.