San Francisco-based illustrator and printmaker Mitsu Okubo is a self-identified iconoclast. Combining drawing, collage, grotesque imagery, monsters and tongue-in-cheek sexualisation in his work, he has produced several books of drawings and collages, as well as box sets of prints, t-shirts and poetry collections. He exhibits regularly in the Bay Area and beyond.

Mitsu Okubo calls humour the most sincere form of communication. ‘When I'm making something,’ he explains, ‘the first thing I think of is whether someone will find it humorous. Making something funny brings someone's defences down. You can convince yourself to like something, you can convince yourself to hate something, but it’s really hard to convince yourself that something is funny.’

Okubo’s deceptively simplistic style combines subversion and surprise, discomfort and recognition. Each of his images is a double-take on all-too-common elements of everyday life in a sexualised, commercialised world.

Unsurprisingly, his eclectic interest in the bizarre has also led to the collecting, together with his partner Luca Antonucci, of more than 3,000 small-edition VHS tapes, mostly with a sexual or horror content, packed into the floor-to-ceiling shelves of a basement in the Mission District. It may be one of the world’s largest vintage VHS collections, although Okubo doesn’t know for sure. He and Luca have spent the better part of a decade hunting down and curating the rare tapes. 

Mitsu Okubo’s website is here, with a link to his online store.

We are very grateful to our Russian friend Yuri for introducing us to the work of this artist, and for supplying most of the images.

Example illustration