An Interview with Kazuhiro Tsuji


Kazuhiro Tsuji is an award winning makeup artist and fine art sculptor. His work has appeared in several exhibits and such films as How The Grinch Stole Christmas, Planet of the Apes, Click, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, to name a few. His hyper realistic technique brings characters to life in a way that astounds the eye and delights the senses.

What were you like as a child? What are some of your most fond memories from your early days?

I had some hard times in my childhood. So I used to spend time alone, riding my bicycle, making something, drawing. Sometimes I went to junkyard and took things apart. I played with insects and animals. Visited traditional craft stores and watched people make something. Those were my escape and most fond memories.

When did you first know that you were an artist?

I think everyone is an artist, it depends on if they express or not. I liked to make something since I was very small.


What do you love most about creating of your various works?

I love all process from thinking about what to create, when it’s all coming together, and watching people watching my work.

Is there any one project that has been more dear to you than the others or do you love them all equally?

All projects have good and bad, I love them all.


What was it like to have the chance to learn from Dick Smith? Do you think his encouragement was instrumental in your becoming the artist you are today? What was the most important thing you learned from him?

I learned from him a lot of things. Actually I only had a chance to work with him on a film project a few weeks in Japan. After that , he visited to Japan every year for school where we taught, and after he retired to Los Angeles. We talked about life often more than make up.

I learned a lot from his life. When I made his portrait it was actually a gift from him. I made that for his 80th birthday. And it ended up the biggest gift from him that helped me to realize what I really love to do.

The most important thing I learned from him was how to live before I die. As I spent time with him last few years until he passed. That helped me a lot to leave the film industry to move into the art world.


What is the most important thing to remember when trying to convey spirit to a sculpted piece?

Connect with the spirit of the subject even if that person is deceased. I think compassion is very important.

Do you have a dream project that you would most like to accomplish?

I like to keep creating and I have a lot of goals, one of them is to do a museum show with my portrait pieces. First may be with 10 pieces. I realized how powerful that will be after I showed my Dali and Warhol piece together at an LA art show, they gathered constant crowds. I loved watching how people enjoyed them and engaged with them.


Are there any little known things about you that your fans might be surprised to learn?

I’m not sure.

Do you feel it is a privilege to be able to bring beauty to the world through the works of your hands?

It is an honor, if I am doing that. I think all human beings should bring beauty, love, compassion, and care.

What projects are you working on at the moment?

I am planning and designing for the next piece.


For more examples of his work and more information on upcoming pieces please see: Kazu Studios.

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