Brazilian surf culture vulture Jair Bortoleto meets Japanese cartoonist Yusuke Hanai…
Jair Bortoleto: How is your art influenced by surfing?
Yusuke Hanai: I surf every weekend, and most of my art is inspired by surfing, waves, and surfers. I started surfing at Shonan, the birthplace of Japanese surf culture. Japanese surfers think it’s kind of like California.
I love watching people surf as much as I enjoy doing it myself. I try to express the feelings you get when surfing in my art.
When I was kid I loved watching cartoons like Tom & Jerry. I drew cartoons all the time, all over the house. Later, I think when I was high school student, I saw Rick Griffin’s cartoon work. I was shocked. I thought ‘I want to draw like him’.
JB: You grew up in Japan, right?
YH: I lived about 30 minutes’ drive from the ocean and there were lots of surfers in my town. When I was a high school student an older friend took me and a bunch of people to the beach; we tried surfing for the first time that day and we loved it immediately.
JB: But you moved to the US to study…
YH: I was at art college over in San Fransisco, but while I was there my father developed leukemia and got pretty seriously ill. I wanted to be close to him so I returned home without graduating but I plan on going back someday.
JB: Did he recover?
YH: Yes He did. But it was a really tough experience for my family.
JB: Can you sum up your outlook on life?
YH: Hanging out with friends who have same dreams, ideals and experiences as me makes my life happy and fun. That, good surf and my art is all I need.