The 27 Life: Interview with Daisuke Sakaguchi

London born creative Daisuke Sakaguchi is an exceptional talent, fusing both his Japanese and British roots into his work through art and design. Daisuke’s ability to express his creativity through various mediums functioning as paintings, graffiti, and sculpture, allows him the freedom to put his hand to anything. His extensive portfolio runs through his label, The 27 Life, that acts as a creative design hub capturing everything he produces as an artist and who he collaborates with. Under the label Daisuke has impressively released handcrafted bespoke jewellery, that’s been donned by the likes of Rihanna, Kelis and the Beckham family. WeAreHQ caught up with Daisuke in his studio and spoke to him about his influences, work and style.

Please give us an insight into your work.

I always plan out what I am going to be doing. Whether it is a series of drawings, a collection of paintings or sculptures, I will map out the ideas making sure to get the best out of the theme. I lay down my thoughts as images on paper and draw up the composition. I always study the progress of the development of my pieces and to be very aware to keep them in line with its original concept.

How do you work?

At night and I use daylight bulbs. I draw and paint listening to 90′s rock and classical music. I love all sorts of uptempo music and anything that vibes with my soul. I get down to Guns & Roses, Def Leppard, Kiss, AC/DC, Nirvana, Mozart, Beethoven, The Three Tenors, Andrea Bocelli, The Prodigy, Cypress Hill, Frank Sinatra and Motorhead. My mind travels somewhere else, I end up in an artistic trance, a form of creative meditation.

What’s your background?

I have been drawing, painting and making objects since the day I can remember. My family couldn’t afford extravagant toys and computer games for me, but they gave me a much greater gift that money can not buy, the ability to create art. The rest is self-belief and the support from my loved ones encouraging me to never give up. Life is too short to do anything else other than what I love doing.

What’s integral to the work of you as an artist?

Knowing that good art work ain’t cheap and cheap art work ain’t good! [It's important for me] to show my passion. Always stand proud and to never let anything or anybody get in my way.

What role do you feel that artists have in society?

Art can cure people. Art can change the way we see, hear, taste and touch everyday boring objects whilst we live in this very short life we have. Art is a state of mind and it can sometimes give us mortal humans the ability to become immortal by giving us the opportunity to inspire the next generation.

What has been a seminal experience for you as an artist?

When I was chosen as one of the artists to design a giant egg for The Faberge Big Egg Hunt 2012 exhibition. This is one of London’s biggest interactive outdoor exhibitions ever. All 200 artists’ eggs will be auctioned to raise money for two incredible charities. The Elephant Family and Action For Children. Knowing that my art can make a difference is priceless!

You work in a lot of different mediums, what art do you most identify with?

Making and painting onto three dimensional pieces, then using the streets as the ultimate outdoor gallery.


Photograph by Nicola Saint-Marc

What’s your strongest memory of your childhood?

Being the only Japanese kid at school. My father, mother and grandparents (R.I.P.) raising me to be the man that I am today. Also my art tutor at my secondary school Mr.Plummer, who taught me the importance of layout, composition and flow.

Speaking about your art tutor, do you think formal education is important?

Yes, if you have a good teacher! If you have an excellent teacher for a certain subject, this will shape and mould your opinion of that particular subject for the rest of your life. This applies to the other way round as well — if you have a rubbish teacher, then you are going to hate that subject! Formal education is important, but it is definitely a bad idea to rely solely on formal education to get through life. You need a good balance of real out door life skills combined with what you learnt in the class room. It is important to experience life, not to follow too many rules and then to create your own lifestyle.

Has this effected the themes you do pursue?

Where I was born, my blood line, my friends, the tunes played on UK pirate radio, the weather, has all created the melody for my work. I am a London born Japanese artist that expresses my love for creative design, the culture that comes with it and the fusion of my Japanese and British roots. I grew up listening to rave and rock music, eating Japanese packed lunches at school, watching Dragon Ball, surrounded by original London graffiti throw ups, immersed in Utagawa Kuniyoshi books, [and being round] Ford Escorts. It has all been the biological-art ingredient for my vision.

You’ve definitely got a unique sense of style, what brands, artists and designers inspire you and influence your work?

Sir Paul Smith (designer), Mike Giant of Rebel 8 (artist), Takeshi ‘Beat’ Kitano (film director), Vivienne Westwood (the real Queen of England), Alex Reinke aka Horikitsune (Irezumi Master), Shantell Martin (illustrator), Ben H (painter), Mr. Frivolous (illustrator), Robert McNally (artist), Bruce Lee (Legend), Slash (guitar god), Mahatma Gandhi (the realness) and most of all my father and mother, and my grandparents RIP.

I’ve seen quite a few trainer boxes kicking about your studio, do you have a favourite?

I love my Jordan 8s, Loake Brogues, Dr Martens, but my all time favourite is still box crisp — the Christian Hosoi Rising Sun Vans. They’re designed by a legendary athlete and performer in his own right of a subculture that inspired the world along with pioneering some iconic skate board tricks. Besides that, in life as a person he made a lot of terrible mistakes, fell rock bottom but found strength to get back on his feet to become very successful. To me he represents the notion of ‘never giving up and to fight for what you deserve’. Also the shoe has the Japanese Rising Sun flag decorated on it which is always a good look!

What do you love about London?

Love the Victoria & Albert Museum — I always leave there totally inspired. There’s always something amazing to see there, both traditional and modern. They have beautiful displays of modern art, their ever lasting armoury rooms, classical paintings through to conceptual sculptures. To top it off, their presentation is absolutely immaculate every time. For me presentation is the number one priority when show casing creativity and talent. The plinths, the labels, the glass cabinets and the lighting are all spot on. It’s most definitely the venue that I aspire to exhibit one day.

I also love all outdoor public art — old and new — and the ladies! Plus my favourite spots in town are Sketch on Conduit Street, Torture Garden [hush hush] and The Box in Soho.

How can we live The 27 Life?

With the things that I have seen and experienced, I have learnt that no matter whether you die young or old, it’s good to die doing what you love doing!

What’s next?

To make sure “I Don’t Watch… I do!” Samuel, an 8 year old Young Hackney Carer, supported by Action For Children taught me that!

Until April 2nd, you can find Daisuke’s hand painted Mirai egg nested between two Victorian bollards on Newburgh Street, just off Carnaby Street. It’ll then be moved to Covent Garden Piazza until April 9th. ‘Mirai’ was inspired by his passion for the traditional Japanese tattoo art of Irezumi. You can put you’re bid in, to own a Sakaguchi original, with all proceeds going to the respective charities now.

I do advise taking a look at Daisuke’s work, have a butchers – the27life

Words: Denis Yong
Interview: Freethoughtism and Denis Yong
Photography: Freethoughtism

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