While in Denver last fall for Colorado Crush I had the opportunity to meet a young up and coming artist by the name of Casey Kawaguchi. As the year comes to a close and thoughts go to some of the best from the past twelve months, my mind immediately wonders back to Casey's work. If ever there was a name to add to a list of "Ones to Watch in 2018", it would be (and is) Casey's.
I had the chance to ask him a few questions about his life and process a while back, and this seems like the perfect time to share!
Bytegirl: First if you could give us a few words introducing yourself:
Casey: My name's Casey Kawaguchi and I'm a self taught artist. Originally from Utah now living in Denver, Colorado.
B: Please tell us about your art journey, have you always been an artist? When was the first time you actually called yourself an artist? How did you get to where you are today?
C: Yeah, I've always been an artist. I've been drawing for as long as I can remember. I think I really started to identify as being an artist when I was in elementary school and saw that other kids around me couldn't draw like I could. Early on I had the thought that I wouldn't want to be a "professional artist" when I grew up because the thought of making art for money seemed fake and took away from the whole reason for creating it in the first place. But a few years after high school, after having fun playing in a band, after traveling around and living in a National Park, I focused in on what I really wanted to do with my life and that was to make art. My thinking on art & money slowly changed as I understood that it was merely an exchange. I've gotten to where I am today by staying focused on the art and enjoying the process, by following what inspires me, and with a lot of peoples love and support.
B: What is your personal definition of an artist?
C. My perspective is that we are all artists because we can all create, we have varying degrees of practice, passion and belief in ourselves and our art, but the ability is there. As human beings we have an imagination and inspiration. I believe strongly that when you are moved by a piece of art or music or nature and you get the chills, it's your heart telling you to act on that feeling. I guess my definition of an artist is anyone who is creating from their heart.
B: Who are your artistic influences?
C: Early on I was really influenced by the art in comic books. I loved the concept pencil sketches of characters. the raw stuff. Currently my biggest influences are the artists that I'm around and working with.
B: Can you tell us a little bit about art in Denver:
C: The art here is thriving, and I'm constantly being inspired by new work. The city really embraces and supports the art. It's great.
B: Did you grow up in Denver, how long have you lived in Denver? What is it like to be a part of the Denver Art Scene and how is your work received?
C:. No, I grew up in Utah. I moved to Denver from Salt Lake City last April. Denver has been super supportive of my work since I've been here. There are so many good artists in Denver working at such a high level and have been doing it for much longer than I have. I feel blessed to have my work be received the way it has.
B: Could you tell us about your artistic aesthetic: How do you choose the images you create? Do they have special meanings? Is there a message you are trying to portray to your audience?
C: I'm half japanese, and my japanese heritage is something that I've always been very proud of. A lot of the themes in my work are a personal representation of that heritage. At CRUSH this year, me and EaseOne ( @easeone_tx ) painted a collaboration piece that was meant to convey a specific message. The samurai character holding the brush represents the idea that "the brush is mightier than the sword", the creative force is stronger than a destructive one.
B: I have to say I LOVE my Crush T-shirt! (Casey created one the year's best pieces of swag for sure!)
C: I'm happy to hear it! I was asked to create a design for a CRUSH t-shirt a few months back. I was honored when they wanted to use the design for the official artist shirts and program this year.
B: What are your short term goals? The next big project? Long term goals? Where do you see yourself in the next few years?
C: I've been working on a video project that I'm excited about. I recently finished a collaboration here in Denver with Taketo Kobayashi (@humanoise ) from Japan. I plan to be doing more work with EaseOne over the next year. There are a couple bigger projects in the works, but its too early to give details. Other than that I'm just trying paint as much as possible!
Can't wait to see what the new year brings from this young, extremely talented artist... One of several putting Denver on the map!