DROOL: When do you feel you first found success in the world of art, and how have you grown since then?
Kazz Morohashi: I designed a project called Go Walkeez. It was about getting children interested in arts and culture using toy dogs. I would make and lend these soft sausage dog sculptures to kids at museums and ask them to take the dog for a ‘culture walk’. Kids were also asked to snap pictures of the dog sniffing things (I call them ‘sniffies’ instead of ‘selfies’) that they found interesting and tell me about their walk.
The project was really successful and won awards including one created by Richard Howarth, Apple’s former Industrial Design Vice President. Go Walkeez launched me into not only the art and design world, but also the academic world where I’m now working on my PhD in learning resource design. Yes, I get to play with toy dogs for my PhD!
DROOL: How did you discover your voice in art?
Kazz: It’s been a complicated process and to be honest, it’ll probably be an eternal work in progress. I’m a bit of a wuss when it comes to talking about my work with confidence. Rather than explain, I just kept drawing and creating work that felt fun and natural to me. The accumulation of images as a result of that process helped me to slowly find my creative pathway.
DROOL: What compels you to keep driving forward as an artist? How do you aspire to grow as an artist this year?
Kazz: I actually came back to making art in my late 30s. I always wanted to be an artist, but got sucked into an office job to pay rent, save money, etc. I am so grateful that I’m now able to focus on art making. It is this incredible sense of privilege that keeps me moving forward. Life is short and I can’t afford to take this time for granted!
DROOL: What about dogs attracts you to them as subjects for your artwork?
Kazz: Dogs are my spirit animal parents. Ever since I can remember, I was drawn to dogs. Maybe I was brought up by dogs in my former life. There are photographs of me as a toddler smothering stranger’s dogs. As a child growing up in California, whenever I found a lost dog wandering in the street, I would just lure them back to my house to the horror of my mother.
I think I’m attracted to dogs as they can be both supremely loyal and equally blasé. They can connect with you at the deepest level, but can also ignore you with a ‘whatever’ attitude when you’re being pathetic and feeling sorry for yourself. Tough love. They embody all the character strengths that I look for in myself.
DROOL: Which do you prefer: dogs or people, and why?
Kazz: To every person I meet, I’d like there to be 100 dogs. That’s the ideal balance. People are great, but dogs are essential.
DROOL: If you had to choose one dog breed to characterize who you are, what breed would it be and why?
Kazz: I love this question. Hmm…Definitely a cross breed, possibly a Labrador, Shih Tzu and a Pug cross (if that’s normal). Can be slightly timid but over all up for a good time, especially if food and drinks are on the offer. Never a good hair day and accidentally snorts when laughing too hard.
DROOL: Anything else you want to share with the dog-loving humans of Earth?
Kazz: I’ve recently started taking commissions for abstract dog portraits. It all came about as a friend’s brother lost his beloved dog and wanted a portrait that wasn’t too life-like as otherwise the grief would have made looking too painful. I found it both stimulating and challenging to get the dog’s character to come through stacking simple shapes. I’d love to expand these portrait series and make them come alive as digital animation.
I love using pop colours that remind me of the beach and the sun of Southern California. I’m inspired by both simple and eccentric designs. I love the work of Alexander Calder and Isamu Noguchi, and am drawn to the bold patterns used by the Memphis Group. I’m also deeply rooted to my cultural heritage and have a soft spot for the Japanese taste of kawaii, or all things cute.