Interview with contemporary surreal artist Teiji Hayama

Teiji Hayama is a Japanese mixed-media artist, both living and working in Switzerland and Japan known for his supernatural, pale-skinned nymph fragile as porcelain. His works yoke together both Western and Japanese influences. Hayama grew up in the South part of Japan in the deep core of Shinto in a  family of artists from China and Japan.. He studied art and fashion at Central Saint Martins London College of Art and Design. Hayama’s work is exhibited internationally, as well as at renowned art fairs like Scope Art Show in New York, Basel and Miami. His work was also featured in Art For Freedom, an online show organized by Madonna and curated by Katy Perry.
Hello dear Teiji, please, tell us how did you find the artist inside you? How long have you been doing art? Is art something that you always wanted to do?

I suppose I can say that family had something to do with my passion for Art. Since I am little I have been exposed to visual art in different kinds of setting. I grew up in a family of artists. As a child I would often paint with my uncle, an accomplished painter in Japan. My father, a lover of art in all its forms, was able to make a living from his passion, he still owns a small museum in Japan where he exhibits painting and photography. Ever since I was little, he used to take me to an uncountable number of museum all around the world. The very first time I saw an exhibition was the oeuvre of Fernand Khnopff in Tokyo, I was simply shocked! I guess art is just in my genes!

What was / is your major influences? Other artists, books, movies, music or any other media....What inspires you to create your artworks?
The path of life marked by events and occurrences, every life experience influences my art.

How does "a normal day of artist" in your life look like?
I sit in silence and settle into mediation for at least 20 minutes, then I do 40 minutes walking with my dog, it’s an essential thing for me to practice mindfulness. I usually work for 12 hours of creating-painting session. I need a lot of time in the preparation.

What’s your background? Are you self-taught artist or did you study art? Do you think an art education is important or imperitive for anybody wishing to be an artist? What are some of the advantages and disadvantages that you have encountered throughout your career with/without the formal training of the Art Academy?
I moved to London where I got a bachelor’s degree in Arts and Fashion. At that time I was more fashion-oriented so I started a career in fashion. After years working in this field, I felt the urge to „get back to the roots“ and make a career as a fine art artist. Learning things at Art school like any other life experience is part of what I am now and retrospectively what I create. As I explained learning art was a good experience but having a degree does not open the door of success at all. Art and struggle walk hand-in-hand, you have to smack many brick walls.

What fascinates you the most about surrealism / pop surrealism / contemporary art? How would you describe your style? What themes do you pursue, what surrealism mean to you and what do you hope the viewer will take away from your art?
Strangely, in the latest series of work „the smoke series“, the more I try to represent the human figure in a convincing illusion of real the more abstract and surreal it becomes! The awareness of impermanence, innocence,  purity and vulnerability are reccurent themes in my work. There are utopian visions to inspire people to move toward an existence that is closer to a kind of beauty, or at least to generate a dialogue with the viewer. Evaporous figures are one unique entity showing the purest essence of the human soul, they also act as a wistful reminder to appreciate the ephemeral beauty that all thing come to pass.

What do you love most about creating and being an artist? What does “being creative” mean to you?

Being an artist  is a way to reveal my most secret self.  Being creative is being alive, creativity leads to joy and energy, joy is one of the most creative forces and energy gives the power to do it well.
Can you describe your typical workflow when you’re working on your art? What are your tools of trade? What medium do you most often use and why?

Long hours, sometimes weeks, thinking for a direction on a new work. I mainly work with oil and sometimes combine oil and digital . I work both on canvas and wood panels. I like the difference between the 2 textures, the wood’s grain itself lends the painting a certain authenticity. I also work with aluminium, brass and stainless steel which are part of my etched panel.

Which creative medium would you love to pursue but haven’t yet?
Wood carving, work plaster and 3D printing.

Tell us more about your workspace. What was the most funny or weird thing that happened to you in your studio? What is / was the most strange thing hidding in your studio?
My studio is quite small but has a high ceiling which is important when working on my tall easel. One day, a man rang me from Chicago telling me that he organised a trip to Switzerland and wanted to visit my studio and discuss about my art.  Few weeks later, we were in my studio, I showed him my work and we started a conversation about his passion for art. At some point, when the chat got really intense, he suddenly interrupted it. He was looking for something in his bag in a frenetic way,  at first I thought he wanted to show me something regarding our chat. He got really nervous as he could not find what he was looking for, he started to search his pockets and with a sigh of relief, he took an old  tea pack out of his pocket and just asked me for some hot water! I served him a cup full of hot water, he drank his old tea pack telling me how much he loved that tea after which he left the studio. I never heard from him again. Once, I accidentally spilled some glazing medium on my working desk, I pat dry with a paper tissue and forgot to throw it away, it just stayed there for a few months I guess.. What a surprise to see the transformation of a simple paper tissue into some kind of cool objet d‘art. Since then,  the paper tissue has been placed among my collection of scupltures.

What toughest challenges have you faced as an artist during your art career? What is the biggest lesson you have learned so far?
I chose art career over children. It’s such an uncertain field to raise a kid. I really admire people who can succeed both. I am so dedicated to my art that I would hardly find energy and time to give to a child.
Never give up.
What’s the best and worst advice you ever received in your art career?
Never give up what I am doing. To quit what I am doing.
What do you dislike about the art world? What is the hardest thing on being an artist? Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?
Yes it is, but I am lucky to work with my muse...
Where do you see yourself in the future? Professionally, what’s your goal?
MOMA would be great...
Do you have any tips or inspiring words for others? Maybe advice for beginning artists out there?
Be patient and never give up.
Your favorite art or life quote is ...
Carpe diem.
What are you doing when you’re not creating? What (other) hobbies do you have?

But I am creating all the time!
Trying to be a better person.
Do you have an online portfolio, blog or social medias where we can view your work?
Is there anything else you’d like to say? Is there any project you are working on right now or any ongoing event or exhibition you would like to share with our readers?
Right now I am experimenting new dimensions, let’s see where this will take me. I am also involved in a project helping to save bees. I just finished creating a picture book to help raise general awareness about the plight of bees in Japan. I stayed there for a few months, to publish the book and for a special tv programm regarding the project.
Thank you dear Teiji, it was a honor to interview you, I wish you only the best for you and your art and already looking forward to see your new art works :)
Find Oh, So Surreal on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Google+ or RSS.