The Yamaguchie Splash
Written by Liam Sweeny on June 8, 2020
It can be said that we will never renew the beauty of the world until we can recognize the beauty and purpose of even what we throw away. And it’s the creative innovators among us who, day in and day out, determine that one man’s trash is their treasure. Is this the one who fixes everyone’s lawnmower so they don’t have to buy a new one? Sure is. But some people can take the discarded and, through an expression of raw talent, give it value it never had. This is Yamar Carter, or as many have come to know him, Yamaguchie.
I sit with Yamar, socially distanced, and we discuss all the hidden levels of Super Mario Brothers.
RRX: If I’m not doing it, I might say that woodworking isn’t really different than drawing, it’s just a hot pen burning wood. But I imagine you see it much differently. Because I’ve seen your drawings too, so you have that comparison in your head. What can you pull out of wood that you can’t with other media?
YC: The beauty of wood is it has a characteristic of an elegant, timeless feel. It has a heft to it and a durability that can be passed on from generation to generation. Also, one of the coolest thing about that material is that, as it ages, it looks even better. That’s why we enjoy using it at Yamaguchie.
RRX: When I look at wood burning or carving, it’s amazing what people can do with variations of depth. But I’m a color person – love colors. Does it have to be a trade-off when you’re wood – that you get depth at the expense of color? And if so, how do you compensate for it in your work?
YC: Well wood naturally does not have color, but if you oil up your finger joints and apply some know-how, it can be painted, and you can use tons of techniques to pull whatever you need from the material if you’re willing to spend the time. So I would say the trade off, or limits, depends on the artist working with it.
Compensation just requires time and know-how. I prefer to do color highlights where it’s needed. I call it the Yamaguchie Splash, so it retains the wood look, but you also get that pop of color…
RRX: You find things that the world has tossed aside, and you make them into the future prizes of someone’s collection. That’s an amazing power. When you’re out there on the hunt for medium, are you looking to find a piece that fills the creative need at the time, or are you looking for the piece that inspires the creative need? Or is it both?
YC: Honestly I would say both. Sometimes I find just what I was looking for, or find something I can truly bring life to in a later project.
RRX: You find the old and discarded and bring new life into it. And if it seems random to me or anyone else, I’m sure it’s not. You’re going to give a dresser character; so does that scuff on the bottom. Do you ever incorporate the imperfections, human caused ones, into your creative process? Or do you smooth that all out?
YC: It depends. If the imperfection looks really dope, or if it takes away from the functionality of the dresser. Also, I kind of randomly decide as I go along if, and what I will restore, or leave to the wind unless a customer has specific designs in mind.
RRX: A lot of your work is inspired by cartoons, video games – a lot of fun stuff, but also a little bit “digital age.” And given the materials you use, there must be some interesting contrasts and juxtapositions. Is it just you combining two of your passions, or are you saying something more with your choice of subjects on the media you choose?
YC: What I am always saying in my mind is ‘think outside the box.’ Do not put a limit on your ideas. Try different things, learn different things. That’s how Yamaguchie keeps growing, cause we never stop learning, applying new equipment and techniques.
RRX: I found out about Yamaguchie because you’re making masks. And of course, everyone is making them, but no one’s making the ones you are. They’re amazing. And I see a lot of people trying to be creative with their masks, but yours are works of art, and they’re functional. I’ll just shut up and let you talk about this. What do you say?
YC: Since we are transformative and always trying to push the envelope, me and my business partner Rashad, a.k.a. my lil’ brother, kept testing different style of masks. At first, I was just doing 3d printed masks. Then my lil bro seen the demand coming when masks became a requirement in New York state, and Governor Cuomo came to the store and donated for two masks, which attracted Spectrum news. The 3D printing took six hours to complete one mask, so I started experimenting. My partner ripped apart a foam mask and 3d printed mask that I created and married them together, and this is how we have the model we have now. But we continue to make changes, so who knows what the masks will look like later.
RRX: This is where you answer the question I didn’t ask. Any choice monologues, shout outs, household tips and helpful hints are welcome. Educate, enlighten, emote – the floor is yours.
YC: Big shout out to friends, family, and Yamaguchie supporters – we literally would not be here without your constant love. We have no advertisement normally, so it was everyone’s word of mouth that unlocked doors. So yes, we love all of you as well. Search us on Facebook. Website coming soon, look out for www.yamaguchie.com
Last thing, if you have dreams and anyone says it’s impossible, do the research, take the time, and go for it. Find out for yourself be in control of your own destiny!!!