Sumofish- Behind the Artist

Brandt Fuse is the amazing artist behind the creative designs on Burnwater t-shirts.  We sat down with him recently to find out a little bit about him, his process, and his inspiration.  


Tell us a bit about yourself

I am a 4th Generation Japanese who grew up in Hawaii then went to college in St Louis MO where I studied illustration.  My solidified passion for Japanese culture and art inspired me to study abroad in Osaka Japan for a year. I enjoy the aesthetic of Japanese brush painting, ukiyoe prints, and street graffiti, which influences a lot of my artwork. In terms of passions, I love Japanese food, fishing, cooking, bbqing, drinking beer and Japanese whisky, golfing, gambling, which are reflected in a lot of my designs.  I started down the T-shirt route working at Cane Haul Road printing T-shirts during college summer breaks. I learned a lot about T-shirts there and decided to start my own brand.

What inspires Sumofish designs?

I imagine what I would want to wear- what would look cool on a T-shirt.  I would combine different unrelated items into interesting characters, for example: rice cookers and fish, octopus and craps table, etc. Usually depicted are stuff that I like- sea creatures, Japanese food, beer, and other things you see on Sumofish shirts

How did Sumofish get started?

I moved to SF in 98 and worked at a graphic design firm until 2001 before freelancing.  One of my first jobs was to design a basketball champs T-shirt for a community league. I did a sumo air-jordan pose and after that was well received, I did a line of sumo T-shirts and sold them at Kinokuniya, Nikkei Traditions SF, and local festivals and fairs. One of the designs, a blowfish with a sumo belt called 'Sumofish' was one of the most popular designs so I thought it would be a good name for the brand.  The brand evolved from just sumo designs to all things from Japanese culture and food, to character mash-ups etc..

What advice would you give to all the artists out there?

Stay true to the subject matter and processes that you are passionate about.