The Q&A: Yohey Horishita

By Peggy Roalf   Monday August 21, 2017

Q: Originally from Japan what are some of your favorite things about living and working in Queens New York?

A: I’m originally from Kagoshima, Japan. It is definitely the Deep South of Japan where the accent is as thick as pork fat. Currently I live and work in Jackson Heights, Queens, New York. Every day I smell all kinds of spices, see vivid colors and gorgeous patterns of sari and kurta, and feel the energy of immigrants. I love being here.

Q: Do you keep a sketchbook? What is the balance between art you create on paper [or other analog medium] versus in the computer?

A: Yes, I do. It’s like my secret garden; all kinds of sane and insane things happen there. In my sketchbooks, I enjoy the experience I create with visual and textual content, so there’re a whole bunch of doodling and writing on a page.


I create my illustration in both traditionally and digitally. Traditionally, I use India ink and nib pens on cold-press watercolor paper, oil pastel and graphite on gessoed illustration board, and gouache on paper. I normally use the computer to color them. I go back and forth between the traditional and the digital realms as I need, so I enjoy versatility when it comes to art making. At the end, it’s important for me to enjoy the process.

Q: What is the most important item in your studio?

A: It is hard to answer, but pen and ink (but real talk: my little French press is very important too…)

Q: How do you know when the art is finished?

A: After I lay down the color and put some fancy effects on my piece, I sit back and do my Grocery-Shopping-Routine (like y’all do at the cashier). I start taking unnecessary items (textures, colors, and effects) out of my piece; asking myself “Gurl, do I really need this?” And eventually I know when. During this process, I literally talk to my computer… “Gurrrrrrl…”


Q: What was your favorite book as a child? What is the best book you’ve recently read?

A: In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak… I love bread!!!

It’s not my most recent read, but When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi was simply beautiful. Oh, and Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi was good. Anyway, I’m reading White Rage by Dr. Carol Anderson right now.

Q: If you had to choose one medium to work in for an entire year, eliminating all others, what medium would you choose?

A: Super easy. I would choose oil pastel. Oil pastel was my first love and still will be. I vividly remember when Prof. Julie Mueller-Brown at SCAD Atlanta introduced me to her oil pastel technique. The buttery texture and oily smell, everything was just hallelujah in my mind. It’s almost 10 years ago, but I still use oil pastel in my illustrations.


Q: What elements of daily life exert the most influence on your work practice?

A: Curiosity, patience, and routine. That’s basically what makes me. 

Q: What was the [Thunderbolt] painting or drawing or film or otherwise that most affected your approach to art? 

A: Mixed-media techniques from Katherine Dunn’s pieces. There’re so much life in color and texture she creates, oh, I love her piece. Also fresco paintings by Koji Kinutani… There’s so much power and energy. I love their rawness.   

Q: What was the strangest/most interesting assignment you’ve taken and how did it work out?

A: I was commissioned to illustrate 23 Greek gods and goddesses for an online fortune-telling game. I was concerned about this assignment honestly because I grew up in a conservative Christian family and still practice Christianity (I’m such a Southern Belle, you know). So, in my mind, I was working for this dark spiritual force and felt I was violating my faith and religious practice. Why did I yes to the assignment? Well, the money was good (my faith is so weak, lol). Anyway, the people from the company were nice, everything went smoothly. The research of Greek gods and goddesses was extremely fun, and I enjoyed the whole process. The online game came out so nicely, and my illustrations fit perfectly. Happy client happy me at the end. No matter who I work with, I try to find the positive side.

Q: What would be your last supper?

A: Bread and wine, just kidding.  FRENCH FRIES.  I LOVE FRENCH FRIES. 


Yohey Horishita is a freelance illustrator based in New York and an instructor at PI Art Center, NY and NJ. Yohey attended Savannah College of Art and Design for his BFA and MFA. His work has appeared in prestigious US trade annuals, Canon, Casio, PLANSPONSOR, Penguin Random House, Atlanta Journal Constitution, Yomiuri Newspaper, Family Circle, etc.
Instagram: @YoheyHorishita
Twitter: @YoheyHorishita



  1. susan farrington commented on: August 22, 2017 at 9:35 a.m.
    I loved reading this! Yohey is as nice as he is talented! Keep up the amazing work and keep eating those french fries! Warmly, Susan

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