Musician, animator, public urinator.
It is movement that draws 23-year-old Taylor Oishi to animation. With bare lines and minimal color, the illustrator brings indistinguishable beings to life. These beings don’t follow elaborate plots or clean-cut narratives. Instead, they dance, then shape shift, all within the span of a minute. Like his animations, Oishi believes in letting things flow freely; he merely approaches his canvas and art with a desire to release a kinetic energy. There is rarely a plan and if there is, it’s left vague. He always allows room for his ideas to transform into something else. “It’s just whatever happens on the tablet,” Oishi, who uses Adobe Animate, explains. “I take it wherever I feel like it’s going.”
An Oʻahu local, Oishi initially went to the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa to study graphic design. However, he found himself drawn to the Academy for Creative Media where he began to explore animation, a choice sometimes misunderstood. “When I told my friend I was going into animation, he replied, ‘Isn’t that just a bunch of drawings?’” Oishi recalls. “But it’s what you do with those drawings or shapes.”
A desire to foster inspiration, empathy, and humor is evident throughout his body of work. “I was in this phase of drawing local stuff, like just funny people doing shakas. They would have little speech bubbles saying, ‘You faka,’ just like really moke stuff.”
For a class assignment, Oishi chose to tell the story of a time he was skating and urinated on a bush. When he looked up, he realized he was on someone’s property and a woman had been looking out from the window. “This guy came out with a bat like, ‘Who’s pissing on this bush?!’ I made it super Pidgin, super Hawai‘i like, ‘Oh, you faka.’ My teacher really liked that.” His skateboard rests at his feet as he describes this. “[It was] also kind of weird just at home screaming [into the mic], ‘You faka! You faka!’ and then my brother opened the door like, ‘What are you doing?’”
After graduating with his bachelor’s degree in December 2016, Oishi found himself rejected by four jobs in the year that followed. When he was approached about an internship in Los Angeles, he resisted what might’ve seemed logical to most: He turned down the offer. “It was hard at first,” Oishi says. “I was battling myself for a day on what to do. My creative side was saying ‘No’ ... so, I said no. It might’ve been a dumb move to some, but I believe in trusting your gut. Doors will always be opening. I told [the CEO] another opportunity came up, which it didn’t.”
Oishi’s work has been shown at Hound & Quail and ARS Cafe. Since turning down the internship, he has chosen not to actively pursue a career in design and animation. Now, it is music that seems to carry the most weight for him. He plays guitar for Honolulu surf rock band, Goon Lei Goon and plans to create work that will showcase their music. “If the band thing doesn’t work out, I’ll probably email that guy again,” he says jokingly. “Nah, I don’t know. It’s pretty up in the air right now…. I thought I would have to be actively seeking out things, but sometimes it just comes and you say yes to whatever.” It is likely that his next animations will be made to go along with their songs, allowing music to bring life to his art and vice versa.