Conversations with an Artist: Terasu
We met Max Houtzager, Founder and Creative Director, of Terasu at his Marinship Studios in Sausalito where various creative disciplines are explored and supported, much like his brand, Terasu. Mountain, ocean and food culture are at the root of Terasu's endeavors–as a way to experience the world and build community. With HQ in both Sausalito and Tokyo, you can't help but find seduction in the authentic, nuanced, deeply textured productions this collaborative of multifaceted artists and artisans manufacture, print and share experientially.
Describe the moment you realized art fed your soul.
I guess for me, people, food, nature, and certain environments (that don't necessarily have art) are all necessary 'food for my soul'. Art does feed my soul but the question for some reason makes it feel like it's a necessity, which for me it is not.
What drives me to create? I saw a fashion show in Tokyo by a designer from the Tottori prefecture, who was inspired by a manga artist also from the Tottori Prefecture (which is a very peculiar, serene, and slightly dark place), and I realized more clearly for the first time some of the nuanced effects that fashion has on people, communication, and their environments. Then I wondered why I'm so drawn to these nuances and that led me to begin to understand my drive to work creatively.
What themes do you pursue in your art and writing?
Degradation (Daraku) / Fermentation
Environment / Culture / DNA / History
Tell us about what influences the direction for your creative expression.
The environment immediately around me, which is most often the mountains and oceans in and around Tokyo, Northern California, and Hokkaido.
Post war Japanese cinema (the Japanese New Wave), photography (Provoke era), and architecture (the Metabolists) have been big for me at this point in my life (20s). I feel like studying those three outlets in combination with travel between Japan and California has led me to be able to see the world around me for the first time.
Friends that I look to who blur the lines between the fields / cultures / mediums that I feel deeply connected to–art and food, Japan and California–and are very deep in what they do. Some examples include Kyle, Katina and Aaron from Single Thread, Taro Tamai, M03 (Ryosuke Kenmochi), and Eric Wolfinger.
How has your work/portfolio developed over time?
It seems to only expand in terms of mediums and types of projects, but I’d like to think that the direction and form is narrowing down, becoming more specific, particularly in terms of the commonalities between each project.
What’s the most indispensable item in your studio?
Film cameras help me digest what I see and respond emotionally to a number of potential realities, and also express certain ones to others.
Do you collect anything?
What’s the most inspiring thing you’ve seen, read, watched or listened to recently?
印影礼賛 (In Praise of Shadows). I think if this short and fairly simple, yet deep, read was required, the world would look a lot differently in most places.
What advice would you give to your younger self about your artistic journey?
Don’t accept what you think you know or what you current perspectives are to be the only reality.
We love how Max and his team of creators and collaborators are constantly seeking deeper perspectives that at the core push us to see and experience things in new ways.
There are frequently new product releases in the shop, so stop by to see these artisanal and surprising designs. We're always happy to tell you more...
See you soon,
Bonnie & Jeffrey