Hajime Yamamoto is a Filipino-Japanese artist living in Shizuoka, Japan. He is the Instagram phenomenon behind “Les Garçons Des Fleurs” which is a celebration of all male body types. It’s a colouring book full of illustrations of the naked male form entwined with nature. Hajime was first inspired by the new form of intimacy that we experience through social media. Through this book he challenges the conventional view of online personal connections as being cold or ‘unreal’, as well as the cultural taboo of full frontal male nudity and the negative reactions it can often evoke.
Hajime Yamamoto is a Filipino-Japanese artist living in Shizuoka, Japan. He who was born in the Philippines and was inspired to draw from a young age. He remembers his aunt giving him a set of crayons for his sixth birthday. Since then he has never stopped drawing. He works primarily in watercolour and is strongly influenced by the beauty of the natural world as well as his personal relationships and experiences with those closest to him. He is inspired by the landscapes, flowers and people that surround his everyday life and interprets this thorough watercolour. He works mainly in watercolour and sumi (a type of japanese black ink) and had his first solo exhibition in the summer of 2014.
His work is precise and bold in stroke and composition, as well as spontaneous in colour. Each of his pieces a beautiful rendering of the human form. He has had numerous solo exhibitions in Japan mainly and now all over Europe.
His new series “Les Garçons Des Fleurs” marks a move away from his previous work using digital medium, cleaner and simples lines. The new series was first inspired by the inter-connectivity that we experience as a new form of intimacy through technology. “Les Garçons des Fleurs” explores this concept with digital interpretations of organic images of the naked male form entwined with nature, and seeks to challenge the conventional view of online personal connections as being cold or “unreal”, as well as the cultural taboo of full frontal male nudity and the negative reactions it can often evoke.
Recent advents in social networking platforms and technologies have given rise to entirely new kinds of relationships that can transcend the traditional concepts of honesty, transparency, and intimacy in an interpersonal relationship. Though the author never met the actual subjects of these works, he shares a connection with each of them that is very intimate, special, and undeniable as a result of the process of creating this work.
You are an illustrator based in Japan. Tell us some more things about yourself.
I am Hajime and I am half-Philippino half-Japanese, but I live in Japan. I am 29 years old and I like draw. A lot. And to cook. Because my normal job is a pastry chef and I make bread. I think I have a good taste and I am just a human being!
Have you been drawing all your life?
I have always loved drawing since I was a little. I remember my mum getting angry with me sometimes because I was skipping my nap to draw.
How did you start exploring the male body through your work?
The first painting of a male body that I did for “Les Garçons Des Fleurs” was 3 years ago. I was just bored and I started drawing men with flowers in their beard. And then it evolved to flowers in the pubic area. I did not expect all that success. I just uploaded the picture to Instagram and then a lot of people started requesting pictures of them. This is how I started drawing naked men. And a lot of guys have responded so far. Recent advents in social networking platforms and technologies have given rise to entirely new kinds of relationships that can transcend the traditional concepts of honesty, transparency and intimacy. All of the reactions have been really good. A lot of guys love to see other people naked, and I haven’t had the problem of finding models. Everyone wants to be drawn.
Is there a cultural taboo of full frontal male nudity?
Yes. That is why I do this. In our times, people do not give a sh*t if they see a woman posing naked, but when it comes to a man there is a lot of taboo. I am doing what I am doing because I want to send a message that “It is the same”. A penis should not raise cultural taboo.
What is the beauty of the male body according to you?
For me, everyone is beautiful in their own way. That is why I like to draw all kinds of body types, from thin and muscular to big guys, as you can see from my work. Personally, I like guys with lots of hair and tattoos, because I can make more details and, it is more fun to draw. It is more challenging.
Could that become your full-time job?
That is my dream. I would love that.
What is your biggest audience?
My biggest audience is gay males, especially more in Western countries and in Europe. European gay men appreciate more my work than Asian, because of the culture maybe. People in Western countries are more open about nudity and it’s a thing that they do. In Japan we don’t even have nudist beaches. That is why I do not have many Asian models, as it is hard to ask them to pose naked for work, and usually they don’t do it.
Are your illustrations realistic or you make the models look more beautiful?
I only draw what I see. And I think this is the point. The point is not to lie. If I change something, then it’s not them. I want to capture the essence. A lot of men ask me to make their penises bigger, but I always reply that I can’t. Some people though may “cheat”! The good thing is that I never had a complaint and all my models loved the outcome.
Would you like to draw yourself naked?
I don’t actually like to draw myself. Maybe one day I can do a portrait of me.
Have you met live any of the models you have drawn? How was it?
Yes, I have met some models of my work in my travels and my exhibitions in Spain the last year. And I will soon have an exhibition to Valencia. But, the magic for me is that people that do not know me trust me and share intimate pictures of them with me.
What has been the weirdest request from a fan?
The weirdest request was when a guy asked me if I could watch him masturbate and draw him at the same time. But, I do not have time to watch someone masturbating. And some guys, might be a bit rude sometimes and they can send their naked pictures without even saying a “Hi”. But, that’s Internet, things can be impersonal.
How do you define your form of art? What do you like drawing?
Art for me is how we connect. It is all about human nature and the connection we have with everything. Art is everything.
Do you have a favourite illustration?
I do have one of a guy in Italy, but I will not reveal.
How is it to be an LGBT illustrator based in Japan in terms of censorship and respect of human rights?
I am not the right person to ask that. I actually don’t have gay friends here and I don’t get to go to gay bars and clubs, as I am not in the scene here and I do not really know what is going on. That is a bad thing, but I have not experience. I am not interested in the gay scene here. All my co-workers and my family though know I am gay. When I tell people I am gay here, initially they get shocked and then they ask me how it is like, because most Japanese don’t have an idea how it is to be gay, but then they find it interesting.
How important is Instagram for your work?
Instagram helped me a lot. For my work it is everything. This is how it all started.
What is happiness for you?
Happiness for me is just having a normal day. To know that I am OK and my family is OK and that I did something good for the day is enough. Also, doing something that I really like makes me happy. Even a cup of coffee can make me happy. Simple things.
How important is love?
I am actually lonely. It is so hard for me to find someone. I do have 18k followers on Instagram, but I feel really lonely. It’s been 8 years since I had a serious relationship. I might not have a love, but I take love from my friends and my family. Love is very important. It is the greatest gift. Partner-wise though not really relevant for me at the moment.
How is the ideal man-partner for you?
It has to be someone really funny, because I have a weird sense of humour And I am very sarcastic. He should be really stylish too. And I hope he can cook. Well, that’s not really necessary, because I can cook. It has to be a kind, honest and funny person. Appearance-wise I think I am more attracted to Mediterranean guys.
What are your plans/dreams for the future?
There will be a Garçons des Fleurs #2 and a mini-book called “Full Bloom” as well, that will feature some guys with hard-ons. I want to make more and more books. I would also love to work in the fashion industry and maybe make my own T-shirts or other garments with my illustrations.
Where we can see your other work?
You guys can check my Instagram account @hajime_art and please feel free to follow my journey to turn this coloring book into a success.
More of Hajime here:
*all images are courtesy of Hajime Yamamoto