While Grant was shooting Shinya Kimura’s shop for an upcoming feature, I attempted to interview the Japanese motorcycle artist. Doing so was somewhat difficult. There’s the language barrier, of course, but cultural differences also play a role. Shinya doesn’t ramble on in American fashion, creating good fodder for interviews. Instead he prefers to quickly, politely and succinctly answer questions. Typically with a maniacal laugh. But, listening to the recording of our afternoon-long conversation I realized that while we didn’t have a great interview, we did have a good selection of wise sayings which, as a whole, paint a telling picture of Shinya’s approach.
Photo: Grant Ray
So here we go, the world according to Shinya Kimura:
"I have no idea where my ideas come from. No thinking. Just do it."
"I don’t count how many hours I spend. It’s almost a full year. Chicara Nagata, he counts [maniacal laughter]."
"These bikes are originally handling bikes to go to mountain. I want to keep concept to original."
"Sometimes I make chopper, bobber, vintage, cafe racer. I don’t want to be categorized to any category."
"I love all kind of motorcycle. But especially I love cafe. Hmm, not cafe, just racer."
"I retired from directing people."
"The shapes and beauty of the motor are very important to me. Older bikes have beauty. Modern bikes...I don’t have any favorite shapes."
"I have been making motorcycle which I want to see and I want to ride."
"I ride everything. I am testing always."
"I like to look at concept motorcycles. I can feel the designer’s mind in them."
"I am not making bikes for everybody. As long as one customer likes it, it doesn’t matter if everyone else hates it. But for Yamaha [or any other OEM], many people have to like it."
"I have an English wheel, but I don’t use it much. Maybe once in two years. I just make sheet metal by mallet only."
"Older tools are much tougher. Heavy duty."
"I love scramblers. Maybe I will try that bike next."
"I am repairing everything. Tools, bikes, cars."
"Honda, they have no pulse."
"Many people are looking back right now. But the people back then were doing futuristic things. I don’t want to be repeating the past. I don’t want to do the same thing. I like the spirit of making something new. People back then were trying to make something new."
Previously, we exclusively unveiled Shinya's MV Agusta 750 S America and the 999 R-based Edge; had him review the Aprilia RSV4 and ran a really neat mini documentary on him. Check out our Shinya Kimura tag page for all articles on the artist and look for Grant's Shop feature next week.