Musings: The Art of Kris Goto

Honolulu-based artist Kris Goto paints small and large scale pieces inspired by surf.  Largely influenced by her multi-country Asian upbringing, Goto paints playful, diverse characters in often dream-like states.  Her prints are now being carried in both the North Park Flagship the Kailua Outpost and online and we recently had the opportunity to check in with her to ask her a little bit more about her inspiration and process.

Kris Goto at Aloha Beach Club

1. Tell us a little bit about how you decided to pursue your art?  Has it always taken the form of illustrating/painting, or were/are there other mediums of creative expression that you find fuel your artwork as well?

I think I have always stayed with illustration.  I have tried other mediums/creative expressions through high school like oil painting, collages, 3D and etc but I really love the simplicity of just being able to create exactly what I picture with my hand, a pen and paper.  So much faster and easier.

Kris Goto at Aloha Beach Club

2.  Where are you from and how has that influenced your work?  Do you draw more inspiration from a nostalgic place, or more by dreaming about the future?

I am from Japan.  I moved to Hong Kong when I was 9.  Then lived in New Zealand for two years of high school.  I did move back to HK for my last semester of high school before I moved to Hawaii in 2006.

Traveling to other places definitely opened my perspective, especially the older I was, I had bigger appreciation for such impact.  I am very adjustable and susceptible to the environment I am in, so if I we're to have gone to India instead of Hawaii, I would have been drawing something completely different from what I do now.  In that sense, moving to Hawaii definitely changed my perspective. I fell in love with surfing, and it offered me this very lukewarm fuzzy playful playground of creativity that is 'surf art' for me to explore.  My work now is definitely coming from the present, my present state of mind.  But according to many viewers, apparently there is a little touch of my Japanese culture to them, possibly from my years of manga drawing!
Kris Goto at Aloha Beach Club

3.  Are there certain friends/families/strangers/fictional characters that have particularly inspired your work?

I do not have anyone in particular that  creatively inspires me to come up with ideas to do what I do, but if I were to name a few that I admire and respect, I love the visual imagination of Dave McKean, and the imaginative story-making of Yuu Watase, Ai Yazawa, Osamu Tezuka and Neil Gaiman.
Kris Goto at Aloha Beach Club

4. Tell us about your work station.  Do you typically work from the same place?  

Yes.  I have a studio where I have all my manga (there is about 300 manga books, I like to read them when I feel like zoning out nowadays) The table is mostly neat and organized, until I have deadlines, then things start to pile up.  There is usually a mug cup for my tea, a few manga books, post-its, sketch papers (these are the things that start piling up ridiculously before deadlines) and a laptop playing Japanese or American tv show while I'm at work.
Kris Goto at Aloha Beach Club

5. You paint/illustrate all kinds of mediums/surfaces (surfboards, murals on walls, paper, etc).  Which do you prefer and why?

I prefer paper, only because it's what I have been working on for years, and am used to having it fit the size of my desk.  Also it's way easier to work on since its just me, pen and paper.
Kris Goto at Aloha Beach Club

6. What's some music that you listen to while working?

I rarely listen to music when I am working.  I must have a tv show I have seen before or if not, ones I don't really need to pay that much attention to.  I play Disney movies a lot, Gilmore Girls (they talk so much it's perfect for me to work with), Bojack Horseman seems to get me going nowadays!
Kris Goto at Aloha Beach Club

7. What are the feelings/thoughts you want your art to impart on viewers?

Possibly to have that lukewarm fuzzy playful feeling?  Playfulness with a touch of detail, whimsicality, reason.  But essentially I would like the viewers to feel and think however they want to upon viewing my work.  It is not for me to tell them how they should be perceived, so go knock yourselves out with your opinions, I'd say!
Words: Suzy Lee