Back in 2003, skater pals and good mates Harumaki and Hirosher, both jewellery makers, began to wonder what they could do with the ‘tower’ of broken skate decks they were collecting. Unable to part with the sentimentality of the boards, the two friends launched Harvest, a jewellery and accessories range made almost entirely from the old wooden decks – since then, the partnership, now going by the name of Haroshi. We had a chat to the duo about their undying connection to skating, being poor artists and their need to pull off “the impossible”.
Tell us a bit about your artistic backgrounds, how did the Haroshi collaboration come together?
We both used to be craftsmen, but we have quite different characters. We thought if we started a new project, this would be helpful because we complement each other.
Can you describe the process of creating a piece, for example, Mad Skull? How much planning goes into it and how long does it take?
If I take into account the time to think [about a project]! I’m always thinking, all day! I love to think about how I can make something more beautiful and with what style. It took about four weeks working morning to midnight, to make Mad Skull.
You have a deep connection to skate culture. How big a role did it play, not only in your youth, but your creative processes today? In what ways did the culture influence the work you do now?
I’m still skateboarding. Some people often say that skateboarding is a creative art. I’ve never skated thinking like that… I like skateboarding because it’s just fun.
At art school I had no idea how to cut and carve old skateboards at the time, but I gradually developed after failure upon failure. What I learned from skateboards is that if you keep doing anything long enough, you’re going to get to something good. There is no rule of success and I always say, “yes I can”, even when I was thinking, “it’s impossible” in my mind. When someone would order an impossible art piece from me. I would work, work hard, almost to death, to make it, and to the client I would pretend it was easy. It’s really typical of a skateboarder.
Harvest started as a jewellery range and now includes fine art. How did the concept of Harvest come about?
Haroshi’s works started alongside with Harvest. The centerpiece of the concept is basically the same as Harvest. The way of expression is just different.
Many admire your work, not only for the object itself, but for its contribution to the sustainable and eco art movement. Where did this passion for recycled art come from?
I didn’t think eco when I started. I just didn’t have enough money to buy materials! But I had a lot of used skateboards. It was not about a cool, eco movement thing. I think amazing things come about when people try to make something look great, and as a result the works are recyclable or eco.
How do people react to your work? What do you think is provoked in the viewer when they see your work?
The reaction from people is big. Everyone gives me comments like “wow that’s awesome” I hope that when people see our pieces for the first time they like [it].
I think skateboarders have a different point of view from other people. They are able to find deeper concepts or hidden jokes. For example, a skateboarder who has got a broken foot looks at Screaming Left Foot with a lot more complexity.
What’s up next for Haroshi? What are some of the projects you’re looking forward to?
I’m going to hold an exhibition at Jonathan LeVine Gallery [in New York] next spring. Please come and see the exhibition! Unfortunately I can’t say what I’m looking forward to… it’s going to be a really interesting though.
Skate & Destroy has generated quite a bit of interest here in Australia. Any plans to bring the show to our shores?
We are really glad to hear that some Australian people already know us! We are really happy that we could keep doing this. We have a really tight schedule this year but if we could have time to go overseas, I’d like to go to Australia! Someone invite us please! (Laughs)
For more from the creative collective Haroshi visit haroshi.com.
UPDATE: Since this 2010 interview, the duo have continued to exhibit their work around the world. 2012 has already seen collaborations with HUF/DLX, Battle of the Berrics and very recently, their showing at [email protected] Basel with Jonathan Levine Gallery. We have a feeling these guys have much more coming up, watch this space…