How I Became an Artist

Taka Sudo shares his past while painting one of CapU’s murals

Nivedan Kaushal, Arts & Culture Editor //  Cover Photo by Noah Penner

“I think I’ve been painting in these clothes for six months.” Taka Sudo’s black Nikes, black jeans, black sweatshirt and black snapback are splattered with crusted blobs of vibrant, rainbow-coloured pigment. He steps back, carefully scanning the striated muscles of the twin phoenixes facing Capilano University’s eastern walkway. His right hand deftly gestures the next brush stroke like a golfer performing his pre-swing routine. Each motion emanates intent.

For the last two weeks, Sudo has been tucked between the Willow and Fir buildings, painting one of 10 murals, nine of which are on the North Shore campus and one on the Sunshine Coast, to commemorate CapU’s 50th Anniversary. Native to Saitama, Japan, the self-taught artist apathetically graduated from Rikkyo University’s law program in Tokyo 18 years ago. “At the same time, I also studied filmmaking,” he said. “I was working on lots of storyboards and scripts everyday, but one day I just thought that a whole two hour film – I can make that on the canvas.” Or in this case, more than 40 square metres of wall.

Three boldly variegated land animals – a mountain lion, a horse and an elk – greet passersby as they approach the mural via Fir’s northernmost exit. They are then welcomed inside Willow by two phoenixes. “Those neon, bright colours – they’re representing urban elements – and are building up the animals’ organic shape,” said Sudo. By mixing metropolitan characteristics with organic features, Sudo’s mural manifests the essence of CapU’s landscape – veritable greenery balanced by concrete façades and fluorescent lights. The mural also captures a taste of Sudo’s extreme sport background.

Photo by Masaji Takei

A former competitive freestyle skier, Sudo fell in love with British Columbia in 2002 after ripping down Blackcomb’s double black diamond runs. He visited each year after, and finally moved to the Great White North in 2007. Sudo’s passion for extreme sports has naturally led to artistic collaborations with Endeavor Snowboards, Faction Skis, White Gold Snowboards, and Landyachtz Longboards. “For me, being a skier is my biggest identity. My skier identity always gives me inspiration and also motivation. That way, my identity defines my artistic style.”

Sudo squats beneath the twin phoenixes, joggling an aerosol can of scarlet paint. Last year, he drained nearly 30 paint containers completing a mural behind Our Town Cafe on East Broadway as part of the Vancouver Mural Festival. “So far, this one’s not too bad. Maybe six empty cans?” he said. The anniversary mural, however, has taken longer than he expected. “The painting process is usually much quicker. But this wall has strong textures. It’s been really tricky to paint on.” Despite the wall’s coarse surface, Sudo effortlessly finishes shading the phoenix’s body and wipes his hands on his jeans. “It’s probably time to get new painting clothes,” he laughs.


See more of Taka Sudo’s work at


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