Travels open new creative forks in the road

Terry Sasaki poses in front of Splash, one of his latest paintings.| Photo by Simon Yee.

Terry Sasaki poses in front of Splash, one of his latest paintings.| Photo by Simon Yee.

Terry Sasaki, a Japanese artist and craftsman, practices his artistry by creating a fusion of traditional Japanese sensibilities with Western techniques and craft materials from throughout Asia in order to produce a wide range of visual media and wearable art.

Sasaki will be hosting his latest exhibit, A Journey through Flows and Currents at the Vancouver Chinese Classical Gardens until June 30. He shares his thoughts on his latest creations, how he gains inspiration through travelling and on his efforts to give today’s creative minds an opportunity to express themselves.

“There are three things that are important in my life: being healthy, having innovations and engaging with society,” says Sasaki. “I’m here because society helped me, and I want to use my influence to help others.”

Bringing worldwide art and antiques to Vancouver

Sasaki has been working as an artist for over 35 years working with traditional Japanese rice paper collages with ink wash. Since coming to Canada, and after going from city to city showcasing his artwork, Sasaki was offered a space to showcase and sell his art at the Pan Pacific Hotel in 1989, where he has maintained a presence ever since.

In 2009, while continuing to develop his painting, Sasaki expanded his creativity into fashion design, such as clothing and jewellery. In the same way he combined and adapted Western acrylic paint to create Heian-period style Japanese rice paper collages in his earlier days, he sees his expanding repertoire as a natural progression of his desire to innovate.

“You try going to the right, but if you can’t, go left. You’ll find something which, when put together, is something unique and magical. That’s how I do art,” says Sasaki.

The works in Flows and Currents, most of which were created by Sasaki in the past year, include paintings, clothing and jewellery. Some of the works on display include Journey to Tibet, a necklace crafted using Tibetan turquoise; Serenity, a painting about the feeling of jumping or flying to another level; and various women’s fashions like overcoats, scarves and jackets. Sasaki says all of his pieces are handmade, and he spent the year travelling around Tibet, India and Southeast Asia in order to find inspiration for many of his latest creations.

“When I’m in Vancouver during the winter I don’t get much creative energy. I don’t like to just sit and wait, I act. And I am lucky how I can get energy when I travel abroad,” says Sasaki.

Thankful for the opportunities – spreading it around

A collection of his jewellery, including the Turquoise Talisman (far left).

A collection of his jewellery, including the Turquoise Talisman (far left).

Although Sasaki has been working on art for many years, he feels as energized and creative as ever – thankful for the opportunities that have presented themselves to him. And as a way to give back to fellow artists he has influenced a chance to showcase their creative talents and make important connections. The opening reception at the exhibit featured a Chinese guzheng musician, calligraphy artist and fashion models given an opportunity to perform by Sasaki.

“The most important thing is to open your heart, and you will open your mind to new opportunities. There’s an old Japanese proverb: ‘suterukami areba hirou kami ari’ – some gods throw you out, some gods pick you up,” says Sasaki. “Some people won’t like what you do, but as long as you’re faithful to your work, there’s always someone watching, to lift you up.”

To learn more about the exhibit, visit

To learn more about Terry Sasaki’s art, visit