Interview with Shinnosuke Hariya for “Power Up” | Exhibition on view January 7 – January 28, 2023

Thinkspace is excited to present Shinnosuke Hariya‘s solo exhibition “Power Up” in Gallery II.

‘Power Up’ presents a new series of 14 graphite works on illustration board from the Japanese drawing monster Shinnosuke Hariya and is the artist’s debut North American solo exhibition.

Our interview with Shinnosuke Hariya reveals his preferred pencils, dives into god-like figures of creative influence, and the other skills he’d wish to explore but will hold off for now.

For those that are not familiar with you and your work, can you give us a brief look at your artistic background? How did you first hear of Thinkspace? 

I’m a graphite artist born in Tokyo, Japan. I combine street and Japanese cultures in my work.

I have loved drawing since I was a child. I studied graphic design in art college but found that I liked drawing more than designing, so I became an artist rather than a designer. I held my first solo exhibition in 2017 after graduating from art college. Since then, I have held solo exhibitions and participated in group exhibitions in Japan and abroad.

I first became aware of Thinkspace through Instagram while browsing through the posts of international galleries. Thinkspace attracted me because of the many cool artists exhibiting there.

When Super A had his solo show at Thinkspace in December 2020, I sent a reaction to the Stories that Thinkspace had posted. Then I received a message from Thinkspace inviting me to exhibit at Gallery II, which made me very happy.

What was the inspiration behind this latest body of work? What themes were you exploring?

I decided to create this exhibit on the theme of robotic characters because I came up with the idea that graphite and metallic qualities go well together.

Since this exhibition was to be held in the U.S., I drew not only Japanese characters but also many popular American characters that I like.

What was the most challenging piece in this exhibition? How did it help you grow as an artist?

The piece I painted thoughtfully is the reflective texture of “Thief Robo” and “Modified Police Wolf.” I attempted to draw different textures of metal in this exhibition.

I developed an image of each motif in my mind, and I tried to imagine how they were covered with scratches from fighting, how they were deteriorated and battered, and how they looked like new and clean.

If people who see my work can relate to the expression of these textures, I believe I have grown.

What does a day in the studio look like for you? How do you structure your days?

There is no specific time of day when I draw my work. However, I tend to draw in the evening through the morning and sleep in the morning and afternoon.

“Thief Robo”

Do you have any rituals that help you tap into a creative flow? Do you have a favorite brand of graphite?

I am not particular about the brand of pencils I use for my work, but I use Mitsubishi and Staedtler pencils because they were the first pencils I used when I started drawing.

What excites you about your work / creative process? What frustrates you about your work/ creative process?

I generally do not draw rough sketches when I start creating a work of art. Sometimes I do, though. So when I get an idea and start drawing it, I get excited. I feel that the moment when the work is nearing completion is similar to the feeling I get when I finish watching a favorite movie or comic book. I feel like there is a sense of accomplishment and a kind of sadness that the work is finished.

I am a little frustrated that I have to take breaks from drawing when I have to keep drawing motifs with a lot of detail because my hands get sore from doing so.

“Modified Police Wolf”

What qualities do you think define a lasting icon or character within pop culture? What are the traits that you connect with in the icons you pull for your own work?

I think those characters seem to be composed of simple forms, but they are very calculated. I feel that the shapes are sometimes cool and sometimes cute. I read the meanings of these shapes deeply and incorporate them into my work.

Are there pop culture figures or influences that have had an impact on your philosophical view on life?

People who have influenced my life are Akira Toriyama, Takehiko Inoue, Yoshihiro Togashi, George Lucas, Spielberg, Stanley, and Walt Disney… the list is endless!

I think the characters and stories they create fascinate many people.

I guess these characters are like God to me.

What are your favorite things to do outside of the studio? 

I like going to see exhibitions of friends and artists that interest me, watching movies, and reading manga.

If you could have any skill or topic downloaded into your brain, what would you want to be able to do/ be an expert at?

I would like to be able to speak more languages other than Japanese.

I would also like to be able to create great stories like comic book writers, screenwriters, and novelists, but I can imagine the hardships they go through to create great works, so I am fine with being myself as I am now.

Exhibitions on view January 7 – January 28, 2023

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Photos by Birdman.

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