I’ve been thinking a lot about Takashi Murakami and his work lately. There’s something about his work and his approach to art and commerce that I find really intriguing. The fact that he can ride the line between high end art and mass produced goods is also amazing as few artists can achieve such success.
In this months issue of Interview magazine he sits down with Alison Gingeras and talks about the way he works, his sense of curation and control and how he’s nothing like Andy Warhol.
MURAKAMI: It’s true that I pick up many ideas from different Japanese things. The way I formed my studio and how I organize things actually came out of the model of the Japanese animation studio and the manga industry. The manga industry is gigantic in Japan. There are so many layers to the business, like making a video, making a spin-off game, cards . . .
GINGERAS: And figurines and printed matter . . .
MURAKAMI: Yes, everything. It’s kind of like creating something like the Star Wars franchise. A single big hit for a manga studio means tons of money. One can gross more than a movie. The Japanese invented this industry. I’ve been immersed in manga since I was a kid. I grew up with this culture. So I started to think about how to compare manga to contemporary art. The contemporary art industry did not yet exist in Japan when I was starting out. Contemporary art and manga—what is the same about them? Nothing, right? The manga industry has a lot of talented people, but contemporary art works on more of a solitary model. No one embarks on collaboration in contemporary art in order to make money. But in the manga world, everyone is invested in collaboration. The most important point is that the manga industry constantly encourages new creations and creators.
GINGERAS: Like passing the creative baton?
MURAKAMI: Yeah. Manga culture grows and educates these artists. So I learned from that experience. Manga uses Japanese traditional structures in how to teach the student and to transmit a very direct message. You learn from the teacher by watching from behind his back. The whole teacher-master thing is part of Asian culture, I think. So I guess I agree with you in that respect.