Catching Up With: Miles Yoshida

Catching Up With: Miles Yoshida

This week we caught up with our resident hand drawing expert, Miles Yoshida. Among the topics discussed, Miles told us about playing with an 1,800 pound mass of clay, cooking the perfect Hawaiian cuisine, and scoring the unicorn of used cars. 

Check out Miles Yoshida's work on Sugarlift.


Miles Yoshida, Sugarlift, In the Studio, Artist

Lives & Works In: Bedford-Stuyvasent, Brooklyn, NY

Occupation: Artist

On the Clock:  My work schedule can be a bit manic and ranges from purely idle days to working 16 hour marathons. I once worked in my old studio for 23 straight hours in an effort to mass up 1,800 pounds of clay onto an armature in one day. During these intensely productive periods, I have trouble reminding myself to eat and take care of myself. It's unhealthy and chaotic, but it's the way I am. 

Miles Yoshida, Sugarlift, Catching Up With, Drawing, Hands

Your Art Weekend: Aside from the normal weekend drawing sessions in my studio (wine and beer is usually a fixture), I haven't had a true "art weekend" in a while. I used to go to the Met drawing room and reserve a viewing slot so that I could see Michelangelo's chalk study for the Libyan Sibyl. It's incredible! They have the ORIGINAL drawing sitting in that room, right under everyone's nose.

 Album: Nirvana's MTV Unplugged. 

 Film: Alien or Amadeus.

Miles Yoshida, Sugarlift, Catching Up With, In The Studio

Artist: Michelangelo! (Leonardo and Dürer are very close seconds). Anselm Kiefer stops me dead in my tracks too.

Book:  East of Eden.

Eats: Teriyaki steak and rice (the true Hawaiian way)

          1) 16oz rib-eye steak marinated in low sodium soy sauce with 1/2 cup of sliced scallions, a few tablespoons of grated ginger, one garlic clove grated, and sesame seeds. Marinate for two hours. 

          2)  Remove steak from marinade and dredge both sides through granulated sugar until completely coated.

          3) Barbecue medium-rare and generously apply marinade onto steak after the first flip on the grill.

          4) Serve with white rice.

Miles Yoshida, Self Portrait, Catching Up With, Sugarlift, Drawing

Latest Purchase: My wife and I just bought a used Volvo S70. Only 55,000 miles! Kept in a garage in New York its whole life, great inspection report and just one elderly owner. It's the unicorn of used cars! (with a dent or two).

Guilty Pleasure:  Video games.

Grade in art class: I failed Drawing II during college. My professor's name was Hannah Hannah (not joking). I retook the class with the same curriculum, same assignments and same teacher in an effort to erase the poor mark. Despite getting an A the second time, the department head wouldn't remove the F.

Miles Yoshida, Catching Up With, In the Studio, Sugarlift, Sculpture

36 hours: I would ride my motorcycle up the 101 in California from LA to San Francisco and back. I lived in California for 22 years (all during the drought) and never got to see the landscape so green after a heavy rain. The recent Instagram photos of the California poppy fields, lush valleys and rolling green hills were killing me!

Your work looks contemporary but with many art historical references. How did your art end up taking this direction? I've always loved the Renaissance. Even as a little kid, I loved to look at Leonardo and Michelangelo. I adopted crosshatching as a result because I enjoy being lost in the abstractions of pattern making, while also modeling coherent form and light. It feels like a seesaw tipping the mind back and forth between the left and right brain.

Miles Yoshida, Catching up With, Sugarlift, Sculpture, In the Studio

You created a Kickstarter campaign to back a massive sculptural project that took years to complete. Can you tell us a little more about this endeavor and how it influenced your artistic practice?  I worked on that particular sculpture titled The Overman (based off Rodin's "Three Shades" and Nietzsche's Übermensch) for five years. It was 9'10"  tall and made from 1,800 pounds of clay. I built the armature out of wood and had a welder make a 1:1 scale steel armature to hold the clay. It taught me a lot about engineering, perseverance and strength of patience. I would periodically run out of money to continue the project, so the unfinished piece would sit untouched for months. The head once fell off and nearly dragged me down my 13 foot ladder. When I finally finished, I couldn't afford the cost of materials in order to make the mold, so again, it sat idle for nearly nine months. Eventually I launched my Kickstarter project which allowed me to make a fiberglass mold. This took several months and nearly all of the $19,000. I didn't even care about the cast - the mold was more important. It's like having the negative of a precious photograph. I'm exhausted with sculpture at this point, but I've enjoyed getting back to my first love, drawing.