Saturday, December 23, 2006

Art Space Talk: TOKYO19

I recently interviewed the artist known as TOKYO19. TOKYO19 received the Judge Award in the SOHO FESTA Mitaka Theme Competition in 2006. His work is inspired by Rinpa, a traditional Japanese painting style, as well as other aspects of Japanese culture. This mixing of traditional and contemporary methods is an interesting combination. The end result is a body of work that demands a second view.
Q. When did you first discover that art would be an important part of your adult life?
A. "Art has always been an essential part of my life ever since I can remember. I loved doing something creative as a kid such as playing with LEGO or creating my own toys using stuffs I found around me. I also liked designing machines/robots/gadgets on a piece of paper."
Q. On average, how long does it take you to create one painting?
A. "It really depends on the work or my mood. Sometimes I spend around a few days for one piece and sometimes I spend around a few hours."
Q. Do you have any 'studio rituals'? As in, do you listen to certain types of music while working? What helps to get you in the mood for working?
A. "I listen to my favorite music, which keeps changing quite rapidly. Lately I've been listening to a British band called MUSE. I also started giving titles/names to my sketchbooks. The sketchbook that I am currently working with is called Tokyo Ecstasy."
Q. Discuss one of your pieces. What were you thinking when you created it?

A. "HOTOKE- This is something that I created for a competition but I never sent it because I forgot. Hotoke means Buddha. It also indicates the deceased in Japanese. Basically this is a new Rinpa style. Rinpa is an old Japanese painting style. It was active around 1600-1800 and was famous for using gold/yellow colours for backgrounds and dynamic compositions. In this illustration, I have simplified the Rinpa style. It is a style that I am currently working on and it is nowhere near perfect but many people seem to like this pic."

Q. Do you have a degree or do you plan to attend school for art? If so, how did it help you as an artist? What can you tell us about the art department that you attended?

A. "Last year I got into Glasgow School of Art in Scotland. I am currently taking a year out. I will be studying Product Design, which is completely different from what I am doing right now. Before that I did a course in Edinburgh Telford College for a year."

Q. Why did you choose the medium(s) that you use?
A. "I use a pigment liner from STAEDTLER. I love it because I can add very small details in my works."

Q. Where can we see more of your art?
A. "I have my own website, where I upload my works once in a while. I also have an account in My website: ArtWanted:"

Q. Are you represented by a gallery? Do you have any upcoming exhibits?
A. "I am not represented by a galley. I am currently looking for a gallery that would represent me."
Q. What galleries have you exhibited in? Can you provide links to their sites?

A. "I have started my own gallery at my website, where artists can exhibit their works online. It has just started running this month and some part is still under development. I have got a few people, who are interested in exhibiting their works. ( I also entered a competition in Japan. (SOHO FESTA in MITAKA THEME COMPETITION) My work, which received Judge Award was exhibited in Tokyo (November 17th- 18th) along with other selected works."

Q. Any tips for emerging artists?

A. "Don't stop what you enjoy."
Q. In one sentence... why do you create art?

A. "To challenge myself."

Q. What can you tell our readers about the art scene in your area?

A. "I am currently based in UK. There are so many talented young artists who have the right skills and qualifications to be successful but some of them never get noticed. Also the city council keeps removing the graffiti, which is so bad."

Q. Has politics ever entered your art?
A. "When I was 16, I created a painting, which had a strong anti-war message. It was in 2003, when the war in Iraq started. Since then, politics have not really entered my art for some reason. I am now trying a new method to protest, which is writing a very surreal picture book. I can honestly say that writing a picture book will NEVER cause the ending of all wars in the world. But at least it will make some people think."

Q. Does religion, faith, or the lack thereof play a part in your art?

A. "Some of my latest works have inspirations from Buddhism statues. I just think they are so beautiful."
I hope that you have enjoyed my interview with TOKYO19. Feel free to critique or discuss his work.
Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin

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