Getting Surftastic with Go Suga March 12 2019
Go Suga was born in Hiroshima, Japan. He migrated to Australia and settled on the Gold Coast in Queensland in 1990. His talent for drawing has been a lifelong passion with a seamless blending of colour and culture.
Go's work draws upon and reflects his personal views on a wide range of influences including social, political and cultural issues. The vibrant hues, shape and movement amalgamate to create artwork with a mystical quality.
Read on for our interview with this artist!
Interview by Airiel. Photography by Go Suga.
Growing up in two very different backgrounds, from your beginnings in Japan to your upbringing in Australia, how do you see these influences represented in your art?
I used to have a strongly Japanese-influenced style of illustration back in the day. But ever since I started building my own style, the first thing I did was to break this Japan-programmed aesthetic. In my mind, I think the Japanese influence is gone but Japanese culture is definitely still deep within me. I think there would be some sort of subconscious influence from it. As for the Australian influence, I love the surf culture on the Gold Coast, and I try to put much of this vibe into my art.
There are hidden social and political concepts just beyond the surface of the colourful mystique of your weird and wonderful worlds. Tell us more about these hidden messages.
These messages change from time to time depending on my vibe. Right now, it's more about brightness, simplicity and fun. The hidden message would be to keep life simple, appreciate most things, be in sync with nature, listen to it and go with the flow.
What are some favourite mythologies or fables that you find humorous or interesting?
Ancient greek mythologies are cool. The story about how Medusa became a monster is interesting. She used to be beautiful, but one day she was raped by Poseidon at Athena's temple. So Athena got really pissed and made her face ugly and transformed her hair into snakes. I say that is one crazy ass story...
Tell us about the creative process behind those fabulous colours. How do you get from a blank surface to such elaborate and creative scenes?
I focus much on the composition first. I don't feel like painting unless I come up with some composition I'm happy with. So I sketch first, and once I have something I think I can work with I usually take a photo of it and create a mock up on the computer. On the computer, I play with colour and decide which colour goes where. Then I paint it on a canvas.
You do a lot of mural work around the Gold Coast. How did you get into doing murals and what would you suggest to artists trying to get more involved in painting walls in their community?
My first mural project came from the city council. I can't remember how they found me... I've been in a few local publications in the past about my gallery exhibitions and stuff, so I'm guessing from there maybe. I'm not sure if I can give any suggestion to any artists – I mean I haven't done that much, to be honest. There are a lot more artists who have done more walls, and really specialise in mural paintings. One thing I can say is that it's fun to do murals, and I want the Gold Coast to be filled with my murals! Everywhere! I'm that multi-cultural Asian Gold Coast boy who loves to surf! I'm the perfect candidate!
Besides your artistic endeavours and the sweet ocean, what would you say is your next biggest passion in life?
That would be my family. My wife Asami, my son Noah, Lui the dog, and my unborn child that has no name yet! I also used to love cars but right now I don't.
What are some of your greatest trials and biggest triumphs in either your art life or your personal life?
Oh so many things! When 19 Karen Gallery accepted me as one of their represented artists. The time when I got to do a cover for my favourite magazine No Cure. Creating a kids book filled with my illustrations. Countless publication interviews. The list goes on. I appreciate all these things and can't really point out one. Also when I started to build my own style and broke my self away from my old style drawing was massive I guess. If it wasn't for this exercise my art journey wouldn't have started.
As for my personal life, it has to be that time when I did my first ever roundhouse cutback (a surfing move). I still can't do it whenever I want to but I'm getting better each day!
I’ve read somewhere that you’re a big fan of Vegemite. If you happened to run out of the beloved spread what other condiment would have to fill in its place?
No other condiments could replace its place. Vegemite love forever. I LOVE Vegemite! I usually have mine on toast with 70:30 butter to Vegemite ratio or on some crackers with butter and cheese. I also have two Vegemite, one pizza, one beef and one meat pie tattoos. I might get another Vegemite tattoo now.
Tell us more about what gave you the idea behind the Surftastic 8 for your upcoming exhibition with Outré?
First I had the image of the 7 sisters from the Greek mythology, the Pleiades, and I was going to illustrate them all surfing! I planned to have seven paintings of the same size. But after it was suggested that I should have some small pieces as well, I started replanning. I came up with this idea where all of the paintings would hang on the wall in a formation, on top of a mural on the wall behind them. Together they'd form a single artwork.
In the process, I had to bring one more sister to the mix as even numbers looked best when I laid out these designs out on the computer. It turned out good I think, as I really wanted to do something different and maximise the use of the wall space. The whole concept is still goddesses surfing in their sanctuary, but no longer the 7 sisters from Greek mythology. Instead, they are my own original version of this story, and I named them the 'Surftastic 8'.
From street art and exhibitions, to storybooks, you seem to be very open to many artistic roads. Are there any other artistic projects or dreams you’d like to tackle in the near future?
YES! Anything that interests me and motivates me at the right timing. It's more like I NEED to do it once it's stuck in my head. Right now sculpting is in my head, as well as animation.
Thank you for your time, Go! We can't wait for your show.