Interview by Alan Ng
Words by Cornelius Suen
Photography by Alan Ng
Taq Yoneda, otherwise known as Q, is the people’s artist. His artistic philosophy stresses on the importance of his communication with his audience; his relationship with the people who will appreciate his works is of great importance to him. A frequent collaborator of JayKin and ASpace, Q is a looking to revolutionize the way that the audience interacts with the artist, and is always looking for an interesting new way to integrate art with everyday lifestyle choices.
In this interview, justalilhype! finds out about the origins of the alias “Q.” his “expressionist” art style, the philosophy behind his work, and his goals as an artist. It is clear that Q is an artist who has fun doing what he does and who is eager to share his talents with the world, so keep an eye out for him and you might be first in line at his next live painting show.
Can you introduce yourself to our readers?
My name is Taq Yoneda, a.k.a. Q, and I am from Japan. I love art, especially its ability to convey emotions and messages. I love drawing and creating art, speaking different languages, learning new things, meeting new people, and having interesting conversations. I am currently living in Vancouver and I don’t have a job yet, so if you have a job offer, let me know!
Tell us about your art style?
I don’t really have a style. I just create whatever I feel like. I guess you can say that my style is constantly evolving. I like drawing because it is cheap. All that’s required is paper and a pen or a pencil. Painting is a bit more expensive but I do paint whenever I feel like it. Other times, I get the urge to create art pieces, like sculptures or models, out of materials like clay or paper. I have been drawing since I was two and it is actually the only thing I have kept up with throughout my life. I still love drawing, but now I am interested in experimenting with other mediums, like sculpture.
Tell us about how you got into art as a child. For any kid growing up, they have art class in school, so everyone has experienced art as a child. But as a child, how did you approach art and what made you continue with it into adulthood?
I just really like drawing. It’s a strange yet fun experience for kids. You grab a pen and you start scribbling and the lines come out and something is created. It’s interesting and organic. I love the moment when my pen first touches the paper. That is what appealed to me about drawing: the creative aspect and the idea that anything could form from your imagination. Drawing was probably the only thing that I was good at too. Drawing is the same to me as eating or breathing now. It is a part of my daily life, a part of me.
How has hip-hop influenced your life?
Hip-hop came into my life when I was seventeen. I borrowed my friend’s CD player and I was listening to his CDs when I heard the song The Real Slim Shady, from Eminem . I loved the hook of that song and I fell in love with hip-hop instantly. I needed more of that sound. When I came over to North America and started learning English in New York, I began to understand the lyrics of hip-hop songs more and I learned to appreciate hip-hop even more than I did. By learning English, I was better able to understand the philosophy of hip-hop and accept it as a great medium for expressing how I felt. Hip-hop’s influence will always be present in my creations. I recently learned the term “expressionist.” I love that term. I don’t want to be known simply as an artist anymore. I want to be known as an expressionist artist. An expressionist creates something from their interior expressions, emotions, and feelings, and to me, that is what art is all about. Hip-hop is a great example of an expressionist art form. The music and the culture is so heavy with emotion. I’ve been to block parties in New York and it is just a great interchange of ideas and emotions. People get to see and appreciate what I have created and I get to feel and appreciate their music.
You must have goals and dreams. What are you trying to achieve as an artist?
I have been searching for my next big artistic concept. I didn’t know what I was doing with my art for the longest time. Art is fun and I plan on doing it for the rest of my life, but I could not come up with a goal for my artistic expression for the longest time. Recently, I found a goal. It’s about communication. For example, when I first came to North America, I drew and people understood what I was feeling through my drawings. My drawings facilitated communication. Communication is very important. While I do want to make a living as an artist and sell my work and have it showcased in galleries, that is not my main goal as an artist. My main goal as an artist is to use my art as a vehicle for my own expression and communication. I want to hold live painting shows where I get to interact instantaneously with my audience. I love the communication aspect of art. I want my art to make it onto t-shirts or shoes, things that people can use. I don’t want to sit back and say that I am artist, and only
interact with people through my art when they experience it. I want direct contact with my audience, to be able to interact with them as I am creating my art. I want to go to parties and express myself and to have fun with people. Selling my art is still cool, but that will not make me friends or get me a beer. My vision for my art is to have my audience actively join me in creating something. That’s my concept: to make things with others, communication!
Throughout your time in Vancouver, you have not only worked with but you have also worked on various projects with JayKin and ASpace. Tell us about your involvement in these projects.
JayKin is really friendly. We met in a nightclub and we immediately exchanged numbers. That went way smoother than I thought it would go. We are friends now. He is so talented. We worked together in the JapanLove movement. We’ve been friends for two years now and once in a while we will run into each other and we will have fun. ASpace is actually an up and coming production group. The last two collaborations we did there were over 900 people in attendance. ASpace supports whatever I am doing and they appreciate my art and creations. I want to return the favour. Their concept is a fusion of art and music and that is something that I am interested in. I don’t just want to sit back and just have my art in galleries. ASpace is innovative and trying to do new and cool things. My last two live painting shows were sponsored by ASpace. One was for the JapanLove event at Fortune Sound Club and the other one was at Fabric. One guy came up to me while I was drawing. I was already a little drunk and I was painting and drinking and he just came up to me and told me that he was a huge fan. He was literally crying while looking at my art. He was very happy to see me drawing, it was so emotional. He just wanted to hang out with me and watch me draw. He said that he had been watching me draw since the beginning of my career. That was so surprising and I was really touched.
What were you drawing?
This was at my last live painting show and I was working on a colourful drawing of a man’s face while he is listening to music. I am experimenting with drawing with my bare hands; I don’t use brushes or pens. The guy who was watching me draw was very emotional. It was a lot of fun. This is one type of communication that I was talking about earlier. There is a direct and instantaneous connection between the artist and his audience. People can come up to me and interact with me as I am creating.
Tell our readers how you chose the alias ‘Q’.
“Q” is my favourite letter of the alphabet. My whole name is Takayuki Yoneda. I used to go to a high school in Saskatchewan. People started calling me whatever they wanted to because they had trouble pronouncing my Japanese name. “Tako,” “Taka,” “Taku,” and “Taky,” were some of the variations on my name that people tried out. I was like, “ Say my name properly!” I told everyone to call me “Tak” to make it easier for them. But then I realized that “Tak” is a very common name. I didn’t like that. I changed the spelling to “Tac.” Unfortunately, I still saw lots of people with that name so I used the letter “Q” to come up with “Taq.” I wanted a unique name that people would immediately remember. I like the letter “Q,” so I picked Q to be my alias.
Your website teases something called “Qronicle Designs,” which is the name you have chosen for a lifestyle brand that you are interested in launching. Tell us about your vision for this project.
I want to make “Qronicle Designs” into a company and a brand. I have the concept all thought out. The word “chronicle” means a story or tale. Everyone has their own story. That is the concept behind the name. Also, I spelt chronicle with a “Q” rather than a “Ch.” I am starting to create pieces for the brand. A Space is backing the project up. We create cool things that people will love. I want to do that with my brand and make it a lifestyle brand in the sense that it encompasses music, art, and food.
When you are collaborating with people, how do you follow the rules and guidelines that your collaboration partners impose on your works while following your own artistic wishes for your art at the same time? How do you find a balance between your wishes and the wishes of your partners?
I accept all rules that my partners give me. Some of the people that I will partner up with love art and they accept that an artist will create what he wants to create. Other partners will not accept that as easily. I try to work with people who understand my artistic process. My concept is communication. I don’t want to order people around and to impose my artistic will onto them. I want communication. I don’t like conflict. So, I try to say yes to what people ask me to do. I try to make suggestions and tell people what I would like to do, but ultimately, I try to avoid conflict. I am not trying to push my style onto my partners. I want to be flexible with my art. If people want me to think of something, that is great and I appreciate the opportunity.
What is HYPE?
To be honest, whenever I hear the word HYPE, I don’t feel good. When I hear that, “That guy is HYPE,” I think of someone who is advertised a lot, someone who is a celebrity. If you want to sell yourself and build yourself up, you have to be HYPE. HYPE is something that you cannot avoid if you want to be famous. There is good HYPE, where people love you and they love what you create. They respect you. I don’t see my own HYPE. I would rather that I didn’t know what HYPE is.