1. What or how did you get started in making YUZEN art?
I always liked painting and drawing since I was child. My family had own tailor shop and my grandmother was wishing me to be a kimono artist. After high school, I entered to train my father’s tailor shop. After more than 10 years of training, I had started my own business that continued to motivate my passion to where I am now with 40 plus years career as a Yuzen artist.
2. What is the biggest the challenge of your work?
Unlike modern kimono artist training, my teacher never taught how to draw or what I suppose to do. I felt that I was trying to to steal my teacher’s skill over the shoulder. I assumed that self-taught under the master was the best way to learn at that time. These days, it isn't possible to train like that.
3. What was the most exclusive design you have ever made?
When I was 30 years old, I painted the classic old fairy tale “The Tale of Genji” series. Recently, I accomplished collaboration between classic and modern style to one of my clients “Tenpuno Tsubasa” which took 6 months to finish.
4. How does involve the rice in your art work?
It is very important ingredient in coloring process to protect / support the draft lines.
5. Do you use specific rice and do you make own rice paste?
Sweet rice, rice bran and rice powder have been used for a paste mix. Traditionally, artists made their own paste, however it is available to buy pre-made the paste these days. It always requires adjustment with salt depending upon weather, fabric type.
6. Is silk fabric the only one that uses rice paste technique?
Yes, Yuzen is only used on silk fabric.
7. If someone wants to be a YUZEN artist, how they can start? Is there school?
There are local community or 2 year college program, but if someone really considers to be an artist, they should proceed to be trained by a master artist. Unlike years ago, Yuzen master artist have less interns and less chance to pass their skills. Gender interest shows more females as their hobby. Back to years ago, males occupied the tradition more than females as their main profession, but it gains more attention to female as their hobby sine WW2.
8. What is your message for next generation who want to be a YUZEN artist?
There are about 100 Yuzen artists in Japan. I think my Yuzen style will end in my time, so I don't believe I will be able to pass my style to the next generation. However, I could pass an inspiration, creativity, motivation for sure.
9. What is your message to New Yorkers?
As seen my recent work “Tenpuno Tsubasa”, I want New Yorkers to see modern “WA (侘)” through my Yuzen style. Also, looking for the connection to communicate between artists and consumers. I believe encouraging connection will continue with the next generation of Yuzen art.
Mr. Yamamoto’s dedication of the traditional Japanese delicate techniques "Yuzen" express and designs ultimate drawing in his art works. He try to connect between traditional and modern lifestyles with Yuzen Art.