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Takashi Mukarami  


          There  are  many  artists  who  have  contributed  a lot  to  the  field  of   art. The   artists  have  produced   different types  of  art works  and  the   paintings   have  had  different  impact  on  people  life. For instance, Takashi   Mukarami has contributed a lot in   the field of art in Japan. Takashi Mukarami   is a   Japanese artist who works   fine art media   like   painting   and   digital and commercial media. Takashi Mukarami artwork has inspired   many people in the world. Mukarami   was   inspired mainly   by   anime and   manga to create his paintings. In addition Mukarami   work was   inspired   by   Japanese   comics   and the   cartoon   like   characters with large eyes and large body parts. Most of the Mukarami work is   decorated using different things like flowers and colorful mushrooms. Mukarami work has eliminated barriers to Fine art in the country.

        The Japanese art industry was doing badly before the emergency of Mukarami in the art industry. Mukarami helped change the Japanese art industry by introducing low art. Mukarami has employed large staffs   who help him in designing his work. Some of the Mukarami work is high priced   creations meant for the gallery and art collectors. In addition, Mukarami produces art work for marketing like T-shirts and key chains. Mukarami belongs to many movements. For  example,  Mukarami  is  classified   as  a  pop  artist  as  he  belongs  to  the   pop  art  movement. In  addition  Mukarami  belongs  to  the  super flat  movement  and neo  pop  movement  in  the  country.

           Like  many  pop  artists, Mukarami  has  been  inspired   by  cartoons,  bill board  advertisements   and   consumer   goods to create  his advertisement. Mukarami has added most of his trademarks into his designs. In addition, Takashi Mukarami blends high and low arts. High arts   are kind of artwork seen   in the museums   and galleries. On  the  other   hand,  low  art  is  a   kind  of  work  seen  in  cartoons  and   advertisements. Takashi Mukarami gets   popular theme from the mass media and popular culture and develops the themes into sculptures. Also, Takashi develops the themes into super flat paintings and commercial goods that can be marketed like figurines and phone caddies. This paper analyzes Takashi Mukarami education background, career and works.

 Education background

           Takashi Mukarami has a strong education background and a lot of achievements. Mukarami was   born in TokyoJapan in 1962. Mukarami parents and the environment inspired   him to become an artist. Mukarami was raised in a household that valued art. For example, his brother, Yuji valued art and he became an artist. In  addition,  Mukarami   was  exposed  to  many features of  the American life  as  his father worked  at the  American Naval base (Cruz,A.,Mukarami,T.,Matsui,M.,&Centre   for  curatorial   studies  museum 1999).

         He also learned from the western society and Japanese popular culture. The western society and the Japanese popular culture inspired his outlook. The western society like American popular culture influenced Mukarami career as an artist. He learned new techniques from the movies and Music that were imported. For  instance,  Mukarami confessed to  an  interview   magazine  in  2001 how  he  had  been  influenced  by Steven  Spielberg. For example, he learned  how to develop  films that  incorporate tension (Cruz,A.,Mukarami,T.,Matsui,M.,&Centre   for  curatorial   studies  museum 1999). 

        Additionally, Mukarami  learned  the  way  of   fine  art from Europe   and  America .He  argued  that  very  few  people  visit  the museum as  many  people  visit  the  movie   threats. People consider the museum to be outdated. Thus, this inspired Mukarami to do Fine art.  Mukarami   got his bachelors   degree   in fine   arts   in 1986 from the National Universxity of Fine  Art and Music (Cruz,A.,Mukarami,T.,Matsui,M.,&Centre   for  curatorial   studies  museum 1999).

           After   that, Mukarami   continued  with  his   studies  in  the National  University  of Fine Art  and  music and  in  1988, he   got  his  masters   degree. In 1993, Mukarami   got his   doctorate   degree in fine arts from the same university. While studying Nihonga in the University, Mukarami wondered   if the   style was useful in Japan. Nihonga is a mixture of western painting styles and Eastern painting   styles. Mukarami  did not   believe  in Nihonga  and  he  claimed  that  it  was  irrelevant  to  the  Japanese  life. Mukarami wanted to create something that would impress every one and Nihonga would not help him achieve his dream. In 1990, Mukarami began painting and started teaching students. At  the  same  time,  he  worked  on  the  traditional  style  he had  studied  in  the National university  for  Fine  arts  and music. During  this  time, Mukarami  was   interested   in  manga   and  anime and  also  Kawaii  meaning  cuteness. He   sought  different  ways   to  incorporate   the   styles  in   his  work  so  as  to  make   valuable  paintings (Cruz,A.,Mukarami,T.,Matsui,M.,&Centre   for  curatorial   studies  museum 1999).

          Also, he was  interested  in animation and comic as it would change the  face of   Japanese  art market greatly. The traditional Japanese   art encourages artists to blend western and Eastern (Cruz, A., Mukarami, T., Matsui, M., &Centre   for curatorial   studies museum 1999). The   western paintings   are   designed according to   the   western   techniques .The artists use   western material’s   to  design   such paintings. Yoga   encompasses   different   types of   paintings. For example, it   includes oil   painting, water   colors and pastel. Also,  it  includes   ink  sketches, lithography   and   etching  and  other   techniques  that  are   developed  according  to   western  culture (Cruz,A.,Mukarami,T.,Matsui,M.,&Centre   for  curatorial   studies  museum 1999).

The term was   developed    during   the Mediji period   to differentiate   indigenous traditional   Japanese’s   paintings   from western paintings. The  European  painting   were   introduced   during  the  late  Murochami   period  together  with  Christiania  missionaries .Most  of  the  religious   works   developed   by  Japanese   artists   were   an  imitation  of   works   that  were  brought   by  the   missionaries (Whittaker 2008).

 Takashi Mukarami   developed western paintings before   discovering other traditional   Japanese   paintings. He changed   from Western paintings to traditional Japanese paintings as the anime   and   manga became   popular. This was Japanese   styles of   animation and comic (Whittaker 2008). Anime is an animation that started in Japan. Anime   like   manga   began in 1917 as   types of Japanese   animation. The   original   Japanese animation involved cartoons. During  this  time   anime  had  a  large   audience  in  Japan  and  in  the  entire  world. Distributors were able to produce anime through televisions, video, in theaters and online. Apart from anime, the manga was also popular during this   time (Whittaker 2008).

Manga is a term used to refer to paintings   that consists of   comic and printed cartoons. Manga  started   after the  second world  war   and  it   has  been   evident  for  many  years  in  the  Japanese  culture. Manga includes   a lot of   things   like action adventure and romance (Whittaker 2008). Since,  1950,  manga   has   dominated   the  Japanese   culture  and  become a  major  part of the   publishing   industry  in  the   country (Whittaker 2008).

 After the  emergency  of  anime  and  manga ,Mukarami  became  disappointed  by  the  western  paintings  and  he  became  interested  in Otaku  culture (Whittaker 2008). This   is because   the Otaku   culture   was    a more modern representation of the   Japanese   life. This forced Mukarami to establish the super flat style. Most people have   credited Mukarami for developing the style. Mukarami developed the style from Poku as he wanted to represent   Poku culture. Mukarami argued that animation could help   create a new culture in the country. The new culture could transform the current   Japanese   art   scene into a new scene. Mukarami claimed that the Japanese art market   was not reliable and sustainable after the war. In  addition, he   argued   that  people  in  the   country   had   low   interest   in  art  and  this   affected   the  art  industry  in  the   country (Whittaker 2008).

Mukarami   wanted   to transform art into non fine art media. As a result, Mukarami   started   focusing on the market growth and marketing it   overseas so as   to overcome the negative effects from the war. In 1990s  the Japanese  art  market  was  experiencing    changes  that  resulted   from Tokyo   economic   boom  in  late 1980s. Modern  art  was   focusing   on  young  people   aged  20.Most  artists  targeted   the  young  people  as  they   provided   ready  market. Most   artists  like Mukarami  wanted   every  one  to  enjoy   art  and he  hoped  to  accomplish  this  through  low  art  and by  transforming  the  art  market. This forced Mukarami  to  venture  into  blending  high  art  and low  art so as to meet  public demand (Whittaker 2008).

 Movement which Takashi Mukarami belonged

          Mukarami belonged   to several movements. For example, Mukarami belonged to pop    art movement. Pop  art  movement was  a  movement  developed  in Britain  in  mid 1950s.The  movement   also   emerged  in  United  States  in   late  1950s. Pop art is a movement established before the postmodern art. The pop  art  movement  was  aimed  at  challenging  traditions  that  opposed use of  fine  art. The  movement   argued   that   the   use  of   mass  media   to  produce  visual  goods of  popular  culture  is  inline  with  fine  art (Whittaker 2008).

          The   advocates of the movement argued that   pop removes the necessary material from its context and isolates the object. Also, pop combines the object   with other objects. Pop culture is made up of several elements. For example, pop culture is made up of mass culture like advertising, comic books and cultural   objects. Pop culture uses different popular images to convey the message. It also allows artists to use mechanical means to produce images and other   techniques. Most of the   pop art is incongruent as the concepts used make it difficulty for many people to understand (Whittaker 2008).

             Further, pop art   uses   imagery   used   in advertising. For example, artists   use   imagery   to develop   product labels   and logos. For  instance, Andy  waholl  has  incorporated   pop  culture   in  his   work  the  “Campbell   tomato   Juice   box”  and  this   has  made  his  work  popular (Whittaker 2008). Andy work involves repetition of   one   image with small changes. For example, Andy has repeated one image in his “32   Campbell   soup   cans. Apart  from  repeating  the  same  image, Andy  has   also  used  mass media   techniques   to  produce   his  work  instead   of  using   hands. Most  pop  artists  like Mukarami   have   borrowed   images  from   the  mass media  like  televisions   and   used  them  to  transform  art  in  the country. The artists have used mass media   techniques   to produce   their   work instead of   hands (Whittaker 2008).

       Pop art has become   common in many   countries   like Japan and Italy. Pop   art in Japan   is   evidenced   by the   regular subjects   and styles used by the artists. Majority of the   pop artists in Japan have   taken inspiration from anime and Ukiyo-e. Additionally, the   pop artists have   taken   inspiration   from the traditional   Japanese   art. Takashi Mukarami is the most popular pop artist   in Japan (Whittaker 2008).

               Mukarami is also a   member of the super flat movement together with his group, Kaikai Kiki. Mukarami   group of artists, Kaikai kiki   are known in the   world for   production of    super flats. The super flat movement is inspired   by the Japanese culture and the anime (Repole 2003). The movement   has mainly targeted   the youths in the country and has   had great impact on   the country. The artists in the   country   differ in many ways. For example, some of the artists   are famous    for   their graffiti   inspired   art like Yoshitomo Nara. Other   artists   like   Mukarami   are famous   because of   the   mass   produced plastics. Most  of  the  pop  artists  in  Japan  use   obscene  and  shocking  images   in  their  work.

          The   images   are mainly taken from the Japanese henntai (Repole 2003). Most pop artists use children as subjects in their work. For instance, Nara and Aya takano   have used children as the   main subjects   in their   work. Nara uses   children in   the work   to show anger    and rebellion. On the other   hand Takano uses   children   to show   their   innocence. For example, he uses nude girls to convey his   message (Repole 2003).

          Mukarami used   the term super flat to refer   to flattened   Japanese   graphic arts and   animation. Also, the   term is used   to refer   to the   pop culture and fine art. It is also used   to describe   the emptiness of the consumer culture in Japan. The artist has used the term to   describe consumer attitude and behaviors and sex fetishism in Japanese culture after the war (Repole 2003).

          Additionally, Takashi   Mukarami belongs to the Neo pop movement. The Neo  pop  movement  is  a  post modern  art   movement   that  was  established   in  1980s.The   term  is  used   to  refer   to  artists   that  were  influenced   by  pop  art (Repole 2003). There  are  many  artists   who  were   influenced   by  pop  art   like Jeff  Koons, Sam  Havatgoy  etc .In  2000,  the   artwork  of  Mukarami  was  also  categorized as Neo  pop. This is because Mukarami work is influenced   by pop culture (Repole 2003).

          For example, Mukarami   uses anime and manga in his work. The  artist  also borrows   several  popular  themes from  the  mass  media  and  uses  them  to  develop  his  artwork. For instance, Mukarami has incorporated popular themes in his low arts and   high arts. Mukarami   has   included his   popular themes when designing T-shirts, Handbags and   key chains. The  movements  have  shaped   Takashi  Mukarami  career  as  a   designer  as  they   have  enabled   him  include   different   subcultures  in  his  work (Repole 2003).

Work experience

     Mukarami started   his career as a traditional artist. Mukarami  appeared  in  the  Japanese  art  scene   in  early 1990s  as  a   member  of  the Neo  pop  group. After   that   Mukarami   created    works   that   incorporated the   Japanese   animation   and   comic (Repole 2003). Mukarami   invented   the super flat style of art. The style   deals with   production of entertainment using the media. The style also shows how culture   affects   beauty. Mukarami   began  working   in 1991  where  he  established   the Signboard  Tamiya  which  is  a   huge  multi plane  canvas. Since 1991, Mukarami   has produced both low art and high art. Mukarami   wanted to transform the traditional art in the   country to new art. The  traditional  art  did  not  support  use  of  cartoons  and   comic  when  painting. On the other hand, low art supported use of cartoons and   comic (Mukarami, Schimmel, Hebdige &Museum of contemporary   art (Los Angeles, Calif) 2007).

          In addition, Mukarami has worked as a fashion designer. Mukarami   entered   the   fashion field   after   he started   working with Marc Jacobs. After joining Marc Jacobs, Mukarami and Jacob   designed   prints   for Louis Vuitton hand bag. Most   people   have accused Mukarami of blending art and commerce. This  is because Mukarami  produced  his  work  in   toy  series,  T-shirts  and  also  worked  hard  to  transform  the  art  market .However, Mukarami   did  not   give   up, but  he   continued   to  develop   his  work. He argued   that   people in Japans understood   his work, but   people   in the US could not. People  in  the   west   did  not  allow  designers   to  blend   art  and   commerce, but  people  in  Japan   allowed   designers  to   blend   art  and   commerce (Mukarami, Schimmel, Hebdige &Museum of contemporary   art (Los Angeles, Calif) 2007).

           Though Mukarami was   well  Known  in   United  States   and  his  home   country, the  successful  hand bag   designs  in Louis  Vuitton  in 2003  made   him  a   celebrity  in  Japan. Most people   appreciated   his   designs. The  Mukarami   designs   shaped  the   future  and  public  image  of  the Louis  Vuitton  company as  many  people   purchased   the   handbags(Mukarami, Schimmel, Hebdige &Museum of contemporary   art (Los Angeles, Calif) 2007). This in turn increased   profits in the   company. The number of   customers   increased     within   one year. This  forced   the   company  to develop  more  handbags   so  as  to  meet  the  high  demand   for  the  hand bags. The  sales   for  the Mukarami   bags    constituted  ten  percent   of  the   companies  revenue   in  year .In 2003, the   sales  in  the   company  were  $300  million. Mukarami   established   various   studios in different parts   so as to create paintings, sculpture (Mukarami, Schimmel, Hebdige &Museum of contemporary   art (Los Angeles, Calif) 2007).

         Mukarami has   good experience in   designing and fine art (Mukarami, Schimmel, Hebdige &Museum of contemporary   art (Los Angeles, Calif) 2007). In  his  studio, Mukarami  begins   by  sketching   a  design  and  the  scans  the   design  using  a  computer. After  that ,he  refines  the   picture   on  the  screen  and  selects   the   colors   and  adds  trademark images. For  instance, Mukarami  has  included  the  trade marks in  various  designs  like  the  signboards  and  handbags. The designer has included the Mushrooms, happy   blossoms   and eyeballs   in many of his designs. The   trade marks   are selected   from a   digital   clip file when preparing the designs.

          After that the   designer   prints   the   picture on a   paper. Then the designer begins to paint   the   picture. The assistants in the   company use   acrylic   paints   to paint the   paintings. Mukarami has worked in his   studios   as a   supervisor   and as a   designer. Though, the  assistants  in  the  studio  do the  painting, Mukarami   also  oversees  the   process. For  instance,  he  oversees  the  assistants   as  they  paint   and  put  the  painting  on  a  canvas. This  method   has  enabled  Mukarami  to  produce   images  that  are   flat  and  two  dimensional(Mukarami, Schimmel, Hebdige &Museum of contemporary   art (Los Angeles, Calif) 2007).

           Further, Mukarami   contributed   to the   designating   of the LV logo. The LV logo was   printed   in signature   brown   color. Mukarami   changed   how the   LV logo was designed. The logo was   designed   using   bright   colors and better prints than before. This changed   the   face of the   lobo. Mukarami   applied   his   trademark to the   logo design to make it appealing. For example, Mukarami   used bright and fresh   colors    on the design. He also   included   some   signature   images. Like  other  designs ,Mukarami  included   the  wide open   cartoon   eyes  when  designing  the  logo(Mukarami, Schimmel, Hebdige &Museum of contemporary   art (Los Angeles, Calif) 2007).

          Apart from being a   designer, Mukarami has   also worked as an artist. He has produced a   wide range of artwork from 1991   to date. For example, Mukarami   produced the Tan Tan Bao, Tan Tan Pucking and the Kaikai Kiki. The artist used the artwork    to express the Japanese cultured. For  example,  some  of  the   artworks  conveyed  messages  about   tension  and  misuse  of   children. Most of the   art works   were produced   using the method described above (Mukarami, Schimmel, Hebdige &Museum of contemporary   art (Los Angeles, Calif) 2007). 

           Moreover, Mukarami   has  had   solo  shows in  different  places  since  he  started  his  career  as  an  artist. For example, in 2003 he had shows in Marianne Boesky Gallery   located in New York. Also, he   had    shows in 2002 in the   foundation Cartier Pourl art   contemporain in Paris. Other   shows   include   the   shows   in the museum   of   contemporary art in   Tokyo and Museum of Fine   arts   in Boston. In  addition, Mukarami   is   also  a   curator  as  he  has  helped  preserve   his   culture  by   preserving   paintings   that  symbolize   Japanese   culture.. Also, Mukarami   is  an  entrepreneur  as  he  has   established   studios  to  produce  his  designs  as  stated  above.

Description of the artwork

          Mukarami super flat   style is characterized   by various things. For example,  the style  is   characterized  by   flats  planes  of  color  and   graphic   images   that   involve    character  styles   gotten  from  anime   and  manga. Super flat style analyzes the otaku   lifestyle   and the   subculture. It also talks about consumerism and sexual   fetishism (Mukarami, Schimmel, and Hebdige &Museum of contemporary art (Los Angeles, Calif) 2007). Mukarami   has   incorporated   different   culture into his work. For example, he   has   incorporated low culture   and   high   culture   in his work. Takashi  Mukarami  like   Andy Warhol    has   taken  low   culture   and  repackaged   it   and  sold  it   to  the   highest  bidders  in  the  art  market.

           He has also made the repackaged low culture   available to all other   markets   in different   ways. For instance, the   low culture is available in form of paintings and sculptures (Mukarami, Schimmel, Hebdige &Museum of contemporary   art (Los Angeles, Calif) 2007). It is also available in form of videos, T- shirts   and   cell phone   caddies. In addition, the culture is   available inform of key   chains, mouse pads   and   plus   doll. Lastly, Mukarami low culture is available at Louis Vuitton   handbags. Mukarami   has  sold   his  low  arts in store  fronts like Claes Oldenburg  sold   his   low  art   and  high   art  pieces   in his   store  front   in  1960s (Mukarami, Schimmel, Hebdige &Museum of contemporary   art (Los Angeles, Calif) 2007).

         Mukarami produced his low arts using different methods from other artists. Also,  Mukarami  does   not  sell  his   work  in   one  store    front  like  many  artists, but  he  sells   them  in   many  stores. For example, Mukarami   displays   his work in   toy stores, candy   aisles   and   comic book stores. He also   displays   his work in the French   design house of Louis Vuitton. Mukarami has marketed   his work   in   the   western countries and Japan in from of Kaikai Kiki   and GEISAL (Mukarami, Schimmel, Hebdige &Museum of contemporary   art (Los Angeles, Calif) 2007).

         Mukarami has  developed  different types of artwork. For example, Mukarami   developed   the Kanye   west   album graduation. Kanye  west   collaborated   with Takashi Mukarami   to  design   the   cover   art  for  the   album  that  was  released  by  Kanye  west  in  September 11  2007 (Mukarami, Schimmel, Hebdige &Museum of contemporary   art (Los Angeles, Calif) 2007).The artwork is   characterized  by   cartoon  creatures   that  appear  friendly    and  happy  at   fist   and  then   become   dark. The album artwork    expresses   Mukarami interest   in anime and manga as it has colorful image (Yamaguchi 2007). The  art  work   has  incorporated   an   education   theme   that  was   expressed  by  Kanye  west  in   a  previous   album. The  artist  has  used  visual  plotline  of   the   images  and   line  notes   to  show  the   graduation   ceremony   that   took   place   in  a   fictional   college   located  in  the   universe  city.

           Mukarami   claims  that   the   cover  of  the  album  is  based   on  Kanye  life  as  a   student. This  is  because  students  in school  have  various  dreams   and have  to  over come  problems to  achieved  the dreams. Also, students   experience   problems   and meet other   races. Kanye   has also experienced similar problems like other students. Thus, the   reason he used the pictures to show Kanye life in school (Mukarami &Cartier 2002). The story line of the Kanye west graduation artwork revolves   around the “Dropout bear”. The Drop out bear  has   to overcome  many challenges   so as   to  arrive  at  the   campus  in   time  for  the   graduation  ceremony.

           In  this   case,  the “Drop out bear”  represents  Kanye  West  as  he  tries  to  struggle  to  arrive  in   school early  for  the   ceremony (Mukarami &Cartier 2002). The dropout bear”   leaves   the house   to the  car   on a rainy day  and  it  does not  make  it to  the  ceremony  as the   car  engine   fails. The “Drop out bear” looks for alternative means of transport like a cab (Mukarami &Cartier 2002).Also; the “Drop out bear” misses the rail. Despite all the   problems, the “drop out bear” arrives at   school   and   attends   the graduation   ceremony. The story   ends   when the drop out bear is released to the   sky. This is shown on the   back cover of the   album. Hence, the   artwork   shows   the combination of   amines and manga (Mukarami &Cartier 2002).


Takashi Mukarami   work has inspired many people in the world because of high quality. Mukarami has helped   transform the   traditional Japanese   art    to fine art. The  artist   argues  that   the  traditional   Japanese   culture   does  not  allow  artists  to  use   cartoons  and  comic. The   low art allows artists to use   comic and   cartoons in their work. Mukarami  interest  in   low  art  was  inspired  by  the  emergency  of  the   anime   and  manga   styles. This   forced Mukarami to study Yoga in the university. Though many people   did not value   fine art, Mukarami   did not   stop   studying fine art. Also, Mukarami was inspired by his   family   to become an artist. His father exposed him to    American movies and   music. This in turn helped Mukarami   gain knowledge   about fine art. After   finishing his studies. Mukarami worked   as a   designer in the Louis vention. He helped   design   different kinds of bags. Mukarami incorporated his   trade mark when designing the handbags. This    in  turn  increased   the  sales   in  the  company  as  the  demand  for  Mukarami  handbags  increased.

In addition, Mukarami   helped   design the LV logos by changing the colors. Mukarami replaced the original, colors   with brighter colors. He also added   his   trademarks   in the Logo. For example, Mukarami added   cartoons   as trade marks in the logo. Mukarami has also good experience in art. He  has  developed  various   types  of   art  works  like  the Tan Tan  Bao  and  the Tan  Tan  pucking. Mukarami  designs  have  become   acceptable  in  different  countries   as  people  have  started  appreciating   fine  art. He is also a member of   several movements like Neo pop, Pop art and Super flat.


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