JAPANESE STREETS went to visit the 38th Design Festa at Tokyo Big Sight, one of the largest convention venues in Tokyo at an iconic location in Tokyo Bay.
Some 10,000 artists exhibit, buy and sell work at this gigantic art event. Many of them amazingly talented. But in the two days it takes place it is impossible to take them all in. We walked passed the booths at the fastest pace possible, almost running sometimes, and it still took more than 6 full hours to cover every single booth.
I shot lots of photographs to give a general impression of this awesome event, and also selected three artists for a closer look.
If the photos below create a craving for more, Design Festa is held two times a year. The next event is scheduled for May 17 and 18, 2014. Put it on your schedule and start saving!
Ryo Takagi (42) is a kiri-e gakka, an artist who creates art by cutting paper. Takagi, who is self-taught, started when he was still in university. Hand-cut silhouettes are familiar to people all over the world, but Takagi goes way beyond this. He starts out cutting his designs with a small art knife, then scans them and adds color using photoshop. He creates his unique look by adding textures that he creates himself. The result is a modern ukiyoe woodblock print kind of look that feels nostalgic and contemporary at the same time. Takagi’s art is for sale at bookstores and other stores in Japan and North America. The Kirieya homepage also has an online shop, but only in Japanese. However, some of Kirieya’s works are also for sale at
JunK started in 1989, the year after the movie Akira came out. “I was deeply influenced by Akira,” says JunK. “The 90’ was a very dark time in Japan with the economic malaise, the Kobe quake, and the poison attack on the Tokyo subway, and I grew up during the Cold War with lots of movies and documentaries about nuclear war. I think that these things became my starting off point.”
His art is conceived as travel snaps of a Tokyo destroyed by an unimaginable disaster. They are dark, almost, monotone images of decaying buildings, many of them familiar to us.
JunK participates in art competitions, but hasn’t yet started selling his artworks. “In the near future I would like to show all my works at the same time at an art gallery,” he says wistfully.
Shibata is an office worker who in his free time plays in a band. “For our band’s flyers I started to create art,” he explains. It appears to have escalated, he makes a lot more art than he will ever need for flyers.
He creates three types of works: sketches of animals and Tokyo city scenes, and very large paintings in almost neon like colors of modern Tokyo landscapes. Especially the latter caught my eye. They show highrises, highways, railways and suburban scenes in surrealistic night skies, with the moon appearing in pretty much the same location.
“I really want to paint the large paintings,” says Shibata, “but I don’t have the time for them.” So Shibata does mostly small sketches. He uses them as practice.
At the moment he only sells postcards of his art. “I haven’t yet thought of selling my works,” he explains. I hope he will change his mind soon.
Some of the other exhibits that caught our attention.
Artist Nana Watanabe
Art books by Masuda Yutaka & Masuda Yuni
Art by TOKERURUKETO (Mamina Kitazono)
Art by mikish
Nostalgic character goods by ASAMI Goods
Knitted dolls by AMIGURUMI KOUBOU
Ceramics by Fuka
Knitted dolls by Makoto Kitazawa
Toys by CHIKA
Kimono by Hinagiku Gohuku Ten
Illustrations by catophilia
Dolls by Puni Puni Company
Art by Maika Kobayashi
Hats by Coco & Ami
Shoes by machu picchu
Shoes by author
The always gorgeous eyelash designer vivi
Theater Space Performer Mr. Ball Head
Our good friend Nile
Coco of the duo Die Milch
A tiny section in the center is reserved for performances