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Artist Snapshot: Sonomi Kobayashi

Exploring the mind and habits of an artist in twenty-five questions

by Stephanie Cassidy | January 25, 2022

sonomi kobayashi interview[1]
Sonomi Kobayashi. Photography by Hiroki Kato. Hair by Soh Kogasaka. Makeup by Yuka Nishi.

At what age did you decide to become an artist? Sonomi Kobayashi interview

I always liked to paint and draw as a kid, but when I was twenty-seven, I started to study art at the Art Students League, and around thirty, I realized art would be my life’s work.

How did your parents react when you told them you wanted to be an artist?

My mom didn’t take it seriously, and she was asking me when I would stop and come back to Japan.

Who are your favorite artists?

Darren Waterston[2], Barbara Takenaga[3], William Scharf[4], Hilma af Klint[5], Egon Schiele[6], Hieronymus Bosch[7].

Who is your favorite artist whose work is unlike your own?

Egon Schiele and Hieronymus Bosch.

Art book you cannot live without?

Planet Earth[8] by Robert Hughes. (It’s not an artist’s book but a photo book of earth.)  If it has to be an artists book, Filthy Lucre[9] by Darren Waterston.

What is the quality you most admire in an artist?

The artist’s view and concept, and a high quality of completion.

Do you keep a sketchbook? Sonomi Kobayashi interview

Sometimes.

What’s your favorite museum in all the world?

MASS MoCA[10] and the Prado[11] in Spain.

What’s the best exhibition you have ever attended?

Until by Nick Cave at MASS MoCA[12]. It was visually beautiful; the scale was overwhelming, yet many details provoked me and led me to the artist’s concept.

If you were not an artist, what would you be?

An owner of an event space or restaurant bar that serves good drinks and food. Artists and musicians would gather and use the space for their creations.

Did you have an artistic cohort that influenced your early creative development?

About fifteen years ago, a couple of friends and I did twelve weeks of exercises together in The Artist’s Way[13] by Julia Cameron. It changed my way of thinking, and I saw changes in real life, like selling and exhibiting my artwork.

What is one thing you didn’t learn in art school that you wish you had?

So many things but nothing really. I am still learning, and I can always learn on my own if necessary.

What work of art have you looked at most and why?

It is hard to pick one, but I guess The Garden of Earthly Delights[14] by Bosch because it’s just so strange. I can find something I’ve never seen before every time I look at it. I can look at this work forever. I have also seen the painting on the doors of the triptychs, when I visited the Prado. I got a postcard that closes like the piece, and I have it on my studio wall.

What is your secret visual pleasure outside of art?

Looking at the sky.

Do you listen to music in your studio?

Yes.

What is the last gallery you visited?

Van Der Plas Gallery[15] in Lower East Side, New York City to see my friend’s exhibition.

Who is an underrated artist people should be looking at?

So many of my talent artist friends!

What art materials can you not live without?

Pencils.

Do you create art every day? Sonomi Kobayashi interview

No, but I think about it everyday and write some notes often.

What is the longest time you went without creating art?

About one month.

What do you do when you are feeling uninspired?

I go to my studio anyway and look through my old artworks or just meditate.

What are the questions that drive your work?

I always question my own feelings and thoughts. I write notes about my everyday experiences and reflect upon how I feel about certain things.

What is the most important quality in an artist?

Seeking the true self.

What is something you haven’t yet achieved in art?

I don’t think I will ever achieve everything that I want because, after I achieve one goal, I always find a new one. I easily lose interest in most things, but art is the only thing I never get tired of. It is a realm where I am always finding new interests and goals.

What is the best thing about art in the era of social media?

It is easy to announce my exhibitions, events, and news to friends and family as well as people who I’ve never met throughout the whole world.


SONOMI KOBAYASHI[16] 小林園実 (@sonomikobayashi[17]) teaches Painting, Color, Design for Children[18] at the Art Students League of New York.

Endnotes:
  1. [Image]: https://asllinea.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/SonomiKobayashi_headshot_2.jpg
  2. Darren Waterston: https://www.darrenwaterston.com/
  3. Barbara Takenaga: https://www.barbaratakenaga.com/
  4. William Scharf: https://www.hollistaggart.com/artists/43-william-scharf/
  5. Hilma af Klint: https://www.guggenheim.org/exhibition/hilma-af-klint
  6. Egon Schiele: https://artsandculture.google.com/theme/9-things-you-didn-t-know-about-egon-schiele/jgKy9x1b-7-XJA?hl=en
  7. Hieronymus Bosch: https://www.artnews.com/feature/hieronymus-bosch-life-early-works-best-paintings-1202685134/
  8. Planet Earth: https://www.amazon.com/Planet-Earth-Robert-Hughes/dp/0224069160
  9. Filthy Lucre: https://www.amazon.com/Darren-Waterston-Filthy-Susan-Cross/dp/0847844137
  10. MASS MoCA: https://massmoca.org/
  11. Prado: https://www.museodelprado.es/en
  12. Until by Nick Cave at MASS MoCA: https://massmoca.org/event/nick-cave-until/
  13. The Artist’s Way: https://www.amazon.com/Artists-Way-25th-Anniversary/dp/0143129252
  14. The Garden of Earthly Delights: https://www.museodelprado.es/en/the-collection/art-work/the-garden-of-earthly-delights-triptych/02388242-6d6a-4e9e-a992-e1311eab3609
  15. Van Der Plas Gallery: http://vanderplasgallery.com/
  16. SONOMI KOBAYASHI: http://www.sonomikobayashi.com/
  17. @sonomikobayashi: https://www.instagram.com/sonomikobayashi/
  18. Painting, Color, Design for Children: https://theartstudentsleague.org/class/childrens-class/