Takashi Murakami: THE ARTIST
An internationally prolific contemporary Japanese artist, Murakami works in fine arts media – such as painting and sculpture – as well as commercial media – fashion merchandise, and animation. He is known for blurring the line between high and low arts, and for the Superflat movement.
Murakami coined the term Superflat, describing both the aesthetic characteristics of the Japanese artistic tradition and the nature of post-war Japanese culture and society. Superflat refers to Murakami's own artistic style and that of other Japanese artists he has influenced, and is a postmodern art movement, influenced by manga and anime. Representing the 'shallow emptiness of Japanese consumer culture', Superflat flattens forms of graphic art, animation, pop culture and fine arts, and was a successful piece of niche marketing, a branded art phenomenon designed for Western audiences.
A recent example of Murakami's work can be seen in the animation featured in Pharrell's video for “It Girl”:
Takashi Murakami: THE MANAGER
Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd.
Murakami is the founder and President of Kaikai Kiki founded in 2001. In addition to handling the production and promotion of Murakami's artwork and projects, Kaikai Kiki manages the careers of young artists, organizes international art projects, produces and promotes merchandise, and handles the organization and operation of the biannual GEISAI art fair.
Having earned international success and recognition, Murakami has devoted himself to nurturing and supporting the careers of a younger generation of Japanese artists. Kaikai Kiki offers both logistic support and practical career advice, seeking to build an original sustainable art market in Japan.
Kaikai Kiki is peopled by accountants, publicists, managers, and a computerized administrative system, employing 25 assistants to perform specialized tasks, and he uses technology in pragmatic, labor-saving ways, being very centralised on business and management.
Since 2002, Murakami has been organizing a unique direct-participatory art fair called GEISAI. GEISAI is held biannually in Tokyo and Taiwan. Rather than give space to pre-screened galleries, GEISAI allows artists to create their own booths and interact directly with potential buyers and clients.
Murakami's Guide to being successful
In Murakami's book Geijutsu Kigyo Ron (Art Entrepreneurship Theory, 2005), he discusses his guide to being successful in today's art market:
· If you want to be a professional artist, you must forget about the country's art establishment and break into the Western art market
· You must be armed with a good business strategy
· Need skills in creative management, making hypotheses and testing them
· Art-making is, and should be, a commercial activity
· The artists who don't accept the commercial aspect of the art world “are afraid that their work will be revealed to be worthless”
· Use of manga, animated films and video games is the perfect formula to sell his art for the Western avant-garde art market
· Need to understand that art shouldn't be for everybody, art-making is an expensive hobby and needs to be a business rather than for social benefit.
An interview with Murakami
Questions for discussion
· Thinking about Murakami's guide to being successful, do you agree that in order to be successful, art-making should be a commercial activity?
· How does this commercial idea impact his business and management style?
· Do you agree that art shouldn't be for everybody, and should be viewed more as a business?