Our Featured Artist: Yoshiyasu Tamura

tamura yoshiyasu profile

Yoshiyasu Tamura is a widely exhibited Japanese painter and manga artist. Yoshiyasu’s style is best described as a culture clash, a mix of traditional Japanese drawing, manga, and western painting. He aims to make decorative and extravagant work by using rich colours and pigments.

Tell us a little bit about yourself, your background, what inspired you to become an illustrator?

I’m a professional Manga Artist, Painter and Illustrator. I started my journey with manga when I was 15 and debuted in Shonen Jump, one of the most famous manga magazines in Japan. I was able to make my work known both at home and overseas, and at the age of 33, I was discovered by contemporary Japanese artist Takashi Murakami. I had my work exhibited in many art fairs and galleries around the world and I continued to paint and draw manga while living in Europe for many years.

What manga artists inspire you?

I respect all professional manga artists, but I have to say Osamu Tezuka has my biggest respect as an artist. His work seems simple and easy but trying to imitate his art is like chasing the rainbow. You never get there.

‘Mitate-himeyama Autumn’, acrylic and gold leaf on canvas, 2021
‘Mitate-himeyama Autumn’, acrylic and gold leaf on canvas, 2021

What is your favourite type of manga to illustrate?

I have mainly draw Shonen manga, but I would like to challenge myself in history manga and make my own paintings part of a theme.

What is your favourite medium to work with and why?

Usually it’s acrylic on canvas, with a touch of gold leaf, which is very solid. My style is all about combining classic techniques with new ones. I also use an iPad for sketching and drawing.

What would be your advice to artists and illustrators who are just starting out?

The world is wide and gives us valuable knowledge. By learning from history, you can escape the constrains of your own beliefs and weaknesses. Your biggest enemy is your own egoism and lack of confidence.

Do you have a typical routine you follow when you start a new piece; if so, what is it?

First, I calm down. I think about what I can give to the world, and what the world wants. I read books and find out what is already there. It’s not about avoiding copying other artists but learning from them. I go to museums, I let them inspire me, and I use all the resources that are available now.

Where do you find inspiration for a new illustration?

I find inspiration in museums in Japan and Italy. It’s also found in art books and in the expressions of the models whom I sketch.

‘Kukuri-hime’, acrylic and gold leaf on canvas, 2020 / ‘Mitate-himeyama Spring’, acrylic and gold leaf on canvas, 2021
‘Kukuri-hime’, acrylic and gold leaf on canvas, 2020 / ‘Mitate-himeyama Spring’, acrylic and gold leaf on canvas, 2021

What is your favourite Winsor & Newton medium to work with?

I often use watercolour paints in my sketches. I travel a lot and it’s important for me to use only the best quality colouring materials, that are available everywhere I go.

All images courtesy of the artist, click here to see more of Yoshiyasu’s work.