Yosuke Ueno: Interview

Yosuke Ueno is a self-taught painter who has been creating, drawing, and painting original characters ever since he was a young child. Even though his interest in art was not well-received by his parents, and even though he was disquieted by his parents’ disapproval, he persevered. And, in 1994, when he was sixteen, he had his first solo exhibition in Japan.

Yosuke’s paintings used to be all about death and psychopathology. But, in his early twenties, he made a huge decision to paint about “love, positive energy, and space” instead. Now, he’s known for his innocent-looking characters, use of vibrant colors, and symbolism. He uses red, green, yellow, and blue to represent the four bases of DNA: adenine, thymine, guanine and cytosine (or A, T, G and C); share.

Recently, I had the pleasure of conducting an online interview with him. Meanings and connotations can be missing (or, sometimes, altered) in translations. So, for our readers who understand Japanese – to do his insightful replies justice – I decided to include his original reply in this article.


[Disclaimer: This is not a word-for-word translation]

I noticed that most of your recent works have the word “love” painted all over the things your characters wear (and, sometimes, even on their hair). Does it symbolize anything?

I’ve been using ATGC (the four bases of DNA) to describe/represent love; but, sometimes, I just write the word love. Both of them have the same meaning.


Yosuke Ueno -I’ve read that one of your dream projects is to design apparel. Your female characters look stylish with their “love” motif outfits. Are those the kinds of looks you envision for the clothing you wish to design? Or would you rather design outfits with fabrics with your paintings printed on them?

I’ve been designing apparel as a hobby since I was 13. Printing images on t-shirts is easy and fun; so, I never get bored of it. It’s fun to print my own characters on t-shirts.

I’m looking forward to launch the outfits I design in a near future. Unfortunately, at this moment, I’m unable to provide you with more details. But, if you are interested to receive the up-to-date information about it, please follow me on Facebook.



yosuke ueno - cloud dragon - positive energyAbout the triptych displayed at the Melancholy Menagerie (group exhibition) in Fullerton Museum Center (“Cloud Dragon/Positive Energy no.8”): Did you paint it specifically for the show? I can see that the triptych is a good representation of your works. There are many elements of your previous works included: The doll-like girl with colorful hair that represents ATGC, the love print, the scissors-and-butterfly, the character seen in the “NNA” painting, the clouds, Buddha’s head, the elephant, the walking couple sculpture, the warped surface, etc. Did you intentionally incorporate them into the triptych?

First of all, thanks for researching about my works in great detail.

I didn’t paint the painting specifically for the show. The painting caught the curator’s eyes and she decided to exhibit it in the museum.

The various characters in the painting are riding on the cloud dragon in another dimension. The complex layered background is inspired by book written by Lisa Randall: “Warped Passages: Unraveling the Universe’s Hidden Dimensions.” And, the girl standing at the front is pointing at a number 8. The number refers to the fact that it’s my 8th work in my Positive Energy series. But, not just that . . . (the shape of) the number also symbolizes infinity.




yosuke-ueno_14_beautiful-bizarreI see there are so many dark, gloomy, and disturbing artworks out there. Unlike those artists, you want your works to emit positive energies. Is there any reason behind it?

When I was a teenager, I used to think that painting dark or negative works is cool. But at some point, I realized that my works are my words/messages to my friends. So, I decided to switch into my current style.

Ultimately, negativity leads to suicide. I glimpsed something (horrible) at the bottom of negativity; so, I decided to stop spreading negative energies. Though some of my works might portray dark imageries, they also show that there is always light at the end of the tunnel.


yosuke ueno-nna-never negative againOur readers might want to know why you name your website Spaceegg. Does it carry any special meaning or memory to you?

I’ve been using spaceegg77 as an artist name since I was a teenager (I don’t remember the exact time/year).

Ever since I was a child, I had a big question in my head. Once, I wrote a poem about the question: The quantity and the volume of a brain are finite; but, how come a brain can come up with infinite ideas? It’s as if a brain is an egg that creates a universe. I use the word “space egg” to sum up all of those concepts.

なぜ質量も体積も有限なこの脳が 無限の発想をするのだろう
脳はまるで 宇宙を生み出す卵のようだ

yosuke ueno - nna figuresOut of curiosity, did you produce your sculptures/figures yourself?

My NNA figures are produced – in limited quantities – by Mighty Jaxx. It comes in several different colors. I like this character; so, I’m happy Mighty Jaxx decided to produce it.

In the future, if I have more opportunity, I will make more figures.

I’ve been making 3D arts, but I don’t display many of them.
I’ve been working on several clay sculptures; but, I don’t know whether I’m going to exhibit them.

Mighty Jaxx からNNAというキャラクターのフィギュアが限定で今年発売されました。このキャラクターは僕も気に入っているのでとても嬉しいです。いくつかの違うカラーバージョンが作られると思います。





Lastly, will you tell me a about your current and upcoming projects &/or shows?

Next year (in 2015), I’m going to have a solo exhibition. In the meantime, my works will be featured in several group exhibitions: In Berlin, New York, Los Angeles, Miami, and Japan.

I’m looking forward to see what kind of artworks I’m going to produce




I always start a new work without any detailed design. My hope is that the piece will complete itself beyond my imagination. I sometimes say that artists are parallel to scientists. Scientists have no way of knowing the result of an experiment beforehand. The same can be said about creating art. -Yosuke Ueno

yosuke ueno - efiL

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