Name: Meguru Yamaguchi
Likes: Spending time with family, friends and people I care about
Dislikes: People who belittle others and their feelings
1. What do you love about living in Japan? Being able to spend time with my family and friends.
2. Where do you go to escape Japan? I rarely travel. Personally, I hold more value on who I am with and not where I go.
3. Whom in Japan do you most admire? (Manga artist) Akira Toriyama. If I hadn’t read the “Dragon Ball Z” comics when I was in elementary school, I would not be an artist today.
4. What’s your favorite Japanese word or phrase? “As long as you don’t produce results, you’re a lost howling dog forever.” This quote is by one of my favorite rappers, MC Kan, and taken from his song “Kan-ryu no Kokuron.” MC Kan’s words constantly remind me to work hard but also provide a sense of encouragement.
5. What’s your favorite phrase in any language? “First thought, best thought” — it’s actually the title of an album by Arthur Russell, and I’m instantly able to connect with his words when I am in the process of creating a new piece of art. It also reassures me to trust my gut instinct.
6. If you could have dinner with any artist from history, who would it be? I want to eat Campbell soup with Andy Warhol. (I heard Warhol ate Campbell soup every day.)
7. What song best describes your work ethic? The Jesus and Mary Chain’s “Just Like Honey.” This song was used for the end credits of “Lost in Translation.” Although it’s the last song of the movie, it fills the audience with a slight hope.
8. What’s the strangest request you’ve ever been asked in your line of work? I don’t think I’ve received any strange requests for work until this Q&A. I’m always excited by requests for collaboration.
9. You have made a name for yourself as an artist who mixes historical art techniques with pop art culture and graffiti by the likes of Van Gogh, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol. How would you describe your artwork? Everything I have experienced is portrayed in my artwork. Similar to Vans’ “Off the Wall” motto, I strive to think outside the box and create unique pieces.
10. Your collaging and mixed-media techniques are part of your signature style, allowing you to create interesting textures. Is texture a part of your expression, and what does it mean to you? With so much diversity in contemporary society, I like to express myself as Japanese. The mixed textures I create are made up by several layers, colors and background that represent different aspects of my identity.
11. Both your parents were fashion designers. How has this influenced your art? My family’s preferences toward art have influenced me to have my own opinion when seeing and judging artwork.
12. Do you continue to draw any inspiration from Japan? Not consciously, but I do think I’m influenced subconsciously by the Internet or social media applications such as Instagram.
13. What is your favorite color to work with? Recently, the theme of my artwork has been revolving around the color blue.
14. You incorporate modern-day idiosyncrasies such as “cut and paste,” Instagram and Facebook into your artwork. Do you agree with people who call you a “digital impressionist”? SNS has become so deeply embedded in our lives that I’m not particularly interested in the digital world anymore. Instead, I want to hold on to the value of tradition by using different subjects and transcending the boundaries of a framed painting.
15. You’ve produced a number of human portraits. In your opinion, which emotion is the most difficult to replicate? I have never found it difficult to replicate an emotion, but I do remember feeling a mix of emotions while working on a portrait titled “Roots of Tears.” I used a photo I retrieved from Facebook of a girl who was crying after breaking up with her boyfriend.
16. Have you ever produced a selfie of yourself? I haven’t produced a selfie of myself since cram school. At that time, we were learning about realism and practiced by painting with oils. This question has inspired me to draw myself again.
17. Do you have any artistic regrets? What do you regret about it? I do wish I had gone to an art university. In retrospect, however, I believe I work harder and have a higher level of motivation because I haven’t attended an art institution.
18. What is the most ambitious art project you would like to accomplish? I would like to showcase my artwork at a renowned museum or have my work presented in a large-scale exhibition space. I believe my artwork can be understood better if it is displayed on a grander scale.
19. What do you want to be when you grow up? I don’t like to make goals and prefer to focus on tasks that are in front of me. I believe the effort I put in each day will create the future I envision.
20. Do you have any words of advice for young people? View artworks, analyze what is cool, think about what will be loved and have fun. Become a person who helps others and keep creating masterpieces.
Staff writer Megan Green assisted with this interview.
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