Kris Goto – Artist

When and where did you start surfing?

My memory on this is pretty vague but I think it was somewhere around 2010. 


What do you love about surfing?

Oh man. There’re just way too many things to list. I love the sound of the waves in my head when I surf. That ticklish feeling in your stomach when you see a set rolling in. When I make a really late drop, I love seeing the look on the uncles’ faces paddling by and later on praise/bicker at each other when I paddle back out. I love it when I touch the wave when I’m surfing, making really wide slow turns and glide. It’s like having a conversation with them saying, “oh, you look so pretty today.” Almost like flirting. I also love when I wipeout in the most hilarious fashion and immediately look around to see if anyone saw me. My friends always do. We laugh about it afterwards. That’s just a few of the many aspects of surfing that I love…  Surfing definitely is my liberation from unnecessary images and noise and allows me to focus on what/who matters.

When did you start drawing?

This one I cannot remember at all. Probably ever since I learned to hold anything. Very early. 


What inspired you to become an artist?

I’d guess it was the influence of manga. Living in Japan at that time, manga was just everywhere in our home. Then I started copying other manga artist’s styles. I remember making my own story with this pink character called Kriby, but with hair. Or a very disfigured/disproportionate sailor moons, to name a few. Until I was older and started creating my own characters. My mom was not really happy that the pile of papers and notebooks was accumulating at a very fast pace. Must have been costly. Haha.


Was the road to become an artist hard?  

I wouldn’t say it was hard, but it was somewhat confusing. I was as clueless as clueless can be outside of my imagination. I was lucky to be surrounded with so many of my friends who were/are experienced in fields that I am not. They have helped me tremendously, and still do. I’m still learning and there are so much that need to be learnt still. It’s exciting. I feel like I’m still trying to be the artist that I want to be.


Did you study art at university?



Do you want to communicate anything particular through your art?

My art is very subjective. It almost always is about what I feel and what I am going through personally. It can get really personal sometimes. With my surf art though, I tend to focus more on the fun/positivity and wherever my mind wanders. I did a few pieces on wipeouts only because I was flipping through a few surf magazines and thought that people who do not surf probably have no idea that surfers go through a LOT of wipeouts to get that perfect ride. Also I get hungry when I surf so I did a few pieces with surfers and spam musubi.

I like to put emphasis on that liberating feeling you get with surfing. And fun.


What do you like most about your job as an artist?

Most of my friends don’t believe me when I say this, but I am a bit of an introvert. I like to stay in my studio all day in solitude and just work. I really like that. Sometimes I turn my phone off especially when the deadline is near and play my go-to TV shows I’ve watched millions of times in replay until I’m done drawing for the day. I just love spending all my time with my art. I talk to them sometimes. Like when I’m working on it for a while and I really need to get it done but it’s just taking so long. I say things like “Why aren’t you done yet?” or “Come on man, help me a little here!” It gets a little crazy and that’s when I take a break and surf.


What feels most like home to you? Japan, New Zealand or Hawaii?

Food and family-wise, Japan. But otherwise, definitely Hawaii. I have lived in NZ for 2 years and Hong Kong for about 7 years. But when I saw Oahu on my flight back to Hawaii from Japan, I literally went, “Phew, I’m home now!” Inspite the fact I’d only lived in Hawaii for a year then. I have never done that with anywhere else before (except for when I go back to my parents’ house).


Do you have any exciting new plans for the future?

I am considering working on a few ideas in the next few months. I want to put focus on diving/divers and I am also interested in working with the relationship between plastic and the ocean. I don’t know where these ideas will take me, but it is for me to find out in the next few months! I also have two murals to work on this year. One will be in Diamond Head here, and another in San Francisco. Very exciting.

Where can we find you online?





Posted by: Christina Niemi, on October 15, 2015
Categories: Interviews