Japanese Artist OhGushi Talks Inspiration and Ink Painting

OhGushi Interview

We talk to renowned artist OhGushi and discuss his creative partnership with ROKU

We talk to renowned artist OhGushi to discuss his creative partnership with House of Suntory. As part of the partnership, OhGushi has designed the stunning ROKU bottle and recreated the illustration in a live painting display at Nobu Hotel, Shoreditch. It transforms the Nobu Hotel terrace and is on show until early June.

Here’s what OhGushi had to say about the exciting partnership…What was the starting point for the Roku bottle design? 

ROKU gin is a Japanese Gin tailored for western consumers, and my painting techniques are hugely impacted by western art culture, with Japanese art culture as a fundamental basis.


Talk us through the design process.

I have expressed my signature painting style (drawing in a western style using Japanese traditional Washi Paper and calligraphy equipment) by designing this key visual of Sakura season. Six unique Japanese botanicals are used within ROKU, including the symbolic flower of Japan, Sakura, which I included within my design. When doing so, I made sure to keep the illustration as simple as possible, expressing the sharp aroma and rich, floral notes of ROKU gin I observed when I tasted it. I focused on two main elements – the first was the lines of the branches which are bold and strong, using the ink-painting technique. The second was the ink-bleeding of the Sakura flower that overlaps the branch, giving the impression that the flowers are blooming.

Influences and Interests…

What got you interested in art and design? 

I grew up in Arita City, in Saga Prefecture, which is located in the western part of Kyushu Peninsula in Japan. Arita City is very famous for Arita-yaki (also called Imari-Yaki), which is one of the most traditional and historical birthplaces of Japanese ceramics and pottery. Being in that environment, surrounded by such beautiful designs of potteries, made me want to become an artist.

Who has influenced you in your career? 

A fashion illustrator, Rene Gruau, who I met when I was a high school student. I was overwhelmed and impressed with his dynamic use of colour and the brush. The same can be said about a Japanese fashion illustrator, Miyuki Morimoto.


Preparing a Creative Mind…

What do you do to prepare before a live painting? 

I continuously train and practice the action of the brushstrokes to complete the design on large washi paper, normally around 2M high. For about a week, I rehearse this performance once every day, filming the performance and analysing how I could improve. I always believe I cannot prepare enough for the best performance.

How do you decide on the subject matter for your work? 

When coming up with new ideas, I try to maintain my original style and create new designs within that parameter. For example, the design of one blooming flower was created based on the ink-bleeding that I found interesting during the process of painting a portrait (Bijin-ga) with ink.

How did 粒子/particles (Ryushi/Particles) come about? 

Through the process of developing my techniques, I got really into the beauty and the variety of ink-bleeding. After a while, I created the technique called Ryushi/Particles, which involves creating the design of a flower by using only the force of nature, such as the gravity and the water pressure created by the brush itself. For the ROKU bottle design, I painted a Sakura flower using this technique.

For more information about House of Suntory, visit house.suntory.com and for more information about the terrace, visit london-shoreditch.nobuhotels.com

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