Artist Interviews 2023
By Julia Siedenburg
Sulebox is not only a great sketch artist but also a mechanical engineer.
This Japanese artist who has been influenced by Andy Warhol puts his own spin on those pop art stylistics. He is combining his love for comic art with robotic engineering techniques in order to bring his work to life. His creations can be found on canvases, backpacks, watches, and more.
His fun portraits and innovative thinking is what caught my eye at the latest Los Angeles Art Fair and I knew we had to have him in this upcoming issue.
I am very happy to have had the opportunity to learn more about Sulebox and I am grateful to be able to share his story with you, dear readers. Please enjoy!
What is the story behind your artist name ‘Sulebox’?
"Sule" is a Japanese meme meaning "a little strange" or “funny". My artist name means that I want to be a packaged version of "Sule" without becoming a grown-up forever. It also means that my icon is a little boy who thinks things are a bit twisted.
What does making art mean to you?
I see art as a means of putting my thoughts out there.
I think it is a shame that what I usually think about disappears without being left intact. I am always writing something down. Until about 15 years ago I used to write novels. Sometimes I create animations, sometimes I make mechanical parts. It doesn't matter to me what medium I create my work in, it is more important to me what kind of ideas I create.
Which artists inspire you the most?
The artist I was most inspired by is "Andy Warhol". His thoughtful flexibility in transforming generic objects into art, combined with his pop visual style, is very helpful. There is a tendency in contemporary art today for the more esoteric and difficult to understand to be more highly regarded, but I think it is better to include pop elements that are easy to understand.
Do you have to be in a certain mood to make art?
Every time I create it, I tell myself that I am a genius. (I am very prone to making assumptions lol) That and I am more likely to produce good things if I am in an environment I like.
Where do you take your ideas from?
I get ideas from little discomfort with daily life and society, and from my own thoughts, which I find interesting to me. I don't have any special awesome experiences, so I need to develop my imagination from small experiences. For example, this work is a comic adaptation of “a croquette that I was holding when I slipped and fell on a snowy day, only to have it crushed”.
As an artist and a learned mechanical engineer your work can be described as comic-like mixed media art that includes ink pen illustration doodles as well as machinery that makes some of the images move.
How did you get the idea for this and how do you choose your drawings for this specific presentation?
For a while, after I started my art career I was doing regular drawings and comic art. So about 5 years ago I thought it would be fun if I could make a comic strip or part of a drawing move. I just happened to be around people to consult with to make it. And there you have it, my current art style. When you are in a technology startup, you meet experts in many different fields.
Besides your moving images, you have also created calendars and wooden coins. What other merchandise would you like to create?
I would like to create something a little different. For example, I would like to create something like the hourglass on your arm that I created the year before last. This is a product that I created with the intention of saying, "Everyone wears a watch on their wrist, but it's meaningless because they look at the time on their smartphones, right?"
Tell us a little bit about your childhood and upbringing.
This is a story of my memories. When I was only four years old, I was drawing a picture of the moon in the sky. My mother came to me and said, "Draw the outline or it will be blurry." I stared at the moon, but I could not see any outline. But when I traced the shape of the moon with lines, I was able to express the shape of the moon. I was so amazed that I began to draw only line drawings.
I met you at the recent Los Angeles Art Fair. How did you end up becoming a part of it and how was your experience?
I was invited by Gallery Edel to participate in the LA ART SHOW. I have been exhibiting with Gallery Edel for almost 10 years now. I have a sense that American art is more advanced than Japanese art, so I always draw inspiration from other works when exhibiting abroad.
What is next for you? What are your plans for this year?
I am staying in Torrance for a while to participate in a robot start-up as a mechanical engineer, so my next exhibition is not decided yet, but I will probably participate in an art fair in Korea in the fall. In that case, I think to try again to create a fusion of digital and analog works as usual.
Sulebox will be attending Art Santa Fe