“The reason is simple. It is because I can only paint. When I am painting I can feel existential.”
I studied fine art at Tama Art University in Tokyo from 1989 to 1993. As a young man, I was excited to dive into the world of art. However, in 1995, the city of Kobe, my hometown, was hit by a major earthquake. My parents’ house was destroyed, and my parents lived in a shelter for several months. At the time, I was a young artist living in Tokyo and unable to support my parents financially. One day, I received a phone call from my mother, who was living in an evacuation shelter. She asked me, “Are you eating properly? How are you? My mother was worried about me living in Tokyo. I was helpless to help my parents who were living in a shelter, so to reassure my mother, I got a job as a designer at a company belonging to the SEGA Group. It was here that I acquired the skills to draw digitally. In 1998, I started my own design company, Furi Furi Company, which focused on character-based design and produced many works until 2008.
Since the dissolution of Furi Furi Company, I have been involved in projects that involve characters, and have established my own private office, OKOSAMA-STAR Ltd. Now, I have returned to the world of fine art, drawing on my accumulated experience in character-based creativity. My restart has begun.
Why did you choose to be an artist?
The reason is simple. It is because I can only paint. When I am painting I can feel existential.
I use my original character D.O.A.T. (Doors Open Another Tomorrow) to express scenes that I see every day, such as “thoughts,” “human gestures,” and “ordinary daily life,” using characters that transcend language.
D.O.A.T. is different from the characters I have created for my clients. Mascot characters for companies always have rules. Gender, personality, what is acceptable and what is not, and so on, are all well-defined. D.O.A.T., however, is neither a dog nor a cat. Of course, there is no gender, age, or personality. I consider it important that I am free to change them according to the theme I want to express.
My motivation is the desire to see D.O.A.T. change according to the theme.
Who are your biggest influences?
Since I was a kid, Japan has had a lot of great anime and manga. I was influenced by many of the characters I saw in Japanese anime and manga from the 1970s~1980s. The one who has influenced me the most is Osamu Tezuka, the god of manga. His lines are so beautiful and I still learn a lot from his work.
What’s your favorite artwork?
My favorite artwork is the many Japanese anime and manga that have evolved from my childhood to the present. I can’t pick just one of them. For fine art, I like Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Allen Jones, and other POP artists from the 60s.
“What sets me apart from other artists is that I have over 20 years of experience working creatively with world-renowned companies dealing with Japanese character content.”
How would you describe the art that you typically create?
I want people who look at my work superficially to enjoy it. From there, I hope that they will take some interest in art and enjoy it. Of course, I create my works so that they can be enjoyed even if they delve deeply into them.
I also enjoy creating works with characters because they are perceived in different ways by people of all ages, from children to adults.
What are your key differentiators?
What sets me apart from other artists is that I have over 20 years of experience working creatively with world-renowned companies dealing with Japanese character content. It may be in my drawing techniques, or in my ability to come up with original ideas.
How do you feel about bringing NFC to the artwork?
To be honest, I am still exploring, but I would like to give it a try because I can’t realize the good and bad points until I handle it.
What’s next for you?
One message you would give to your fans?
“I can’t tell you how much your messages and your love of D.O.A.T. have encouraged me. I am truly grateful. I would be very happy if you, who have purchased my work, can look at D.O.A.T. every day and feel positive about it. I will continue to paint so that you will be happy as well.”