Yoshi Aoki

For mixed-media artist Yoshi Aoki, working in a variety of media is one of the main reasons he enjoys being an artist. “I love materials,” he says. “Only after coming up with a design do I choose the materials I’ll work with to create it.”

A native of Osaka, Japan, Aoki studied literature at Meiji University in Tokyo. “When I was a growing up, I was drawn to doing different artistic things, but I never took an art class,” he says. After stints working on documentaries and serving as a language teacher, he came to the United States, where he worked for a software company in California’s Silicon “We moved to Oregon, began to telecommute and then got laid off. At that point, I wanted to do something I could enjoy, so I began making wire-and-paper Japanese lamps.”

As he experimented with materials and techniques, he expanded into sculpture. “In the environment of creating things as a professional artist, I was constantly forcing myself to make new things, and I started making more one-of-a-kind pieces,” he says. “I also wanted to acquire new skills such as metalsmithing and working with clay, so in the process of making a variety of art, I learned new trades, too.”

 Aoki works out of his garage in Seaside, Ore., which he has transformed into a clay, metal and woodworking shop. Gravity (pictured) is a 17-inch by 17-inch wallhanging that combines metal and clay. “I make a lot of nature-inspired designs,” he says. “The center is clay and the holes poking out add movement. The aluminum wire around the piece represents the gravitational force.” Gravity costs $1,200.

Contact mixed-media artist Yoshi Aoki via his website, In January, his work will be featured in a show at Guardino Gallery (2939 N.E. Alberta St., 503-281-9048) in Portland.