Born in Japan, trained in Nepal and the United States, and currently residing in Brooklyn, New York, Mr. Kiji has created a distinct graphic style that effortlessly draws upon all of the above. We commissioned Mr. Kiji to design a mural for our new Dallas Guideshop, and while the paint was drying, had time to ask him about his experiences as an artist. Here’s what Mr. Kiji had to say:
EQ: We noticed you’ve been trained both as an Industrial Designer at the Rhode Island School of Design, and in Tibetan Buddhist Thangka painting. How have both influenced your style?
MR. KIJI: I don’t think anyone would see a direct visual correlation between the two practices and my work, but they both informed me with a formal understanding of planning and process. My large scale commissions are the result of planning so as to finish each piece in a specific amount of time in a series of orchestrated steps. You can see the result of this in the time lapses I shoot to document the process.
EQ: Is it ever challenging balancing commercial work with personal work? Or do you distinguish between the two?
MR. KIJI: Both are challenging and fun. My personal work, which I exhibit in galleries, varies both in mediums and aesthetically, but tends to focus on things from my childhood as well as cultural and racial identity. I tend to approach my commercial and public work based on more universal symbolism, abstraction, archetypal imagery and, most importantly, a strong use of color.
EQ: Of all the places you’ve lived, what’s the most interesting and why?
MR. KIJI: I definitely couldn't choose one over the rest, but Nepal was one of the most surreal places I lived. I was seventeen and every day had something crazy happening, whether it was car bombs, religious festivals, riots, bar fights with cops, or learning pool from tibetan gangsters.
EQ: Do you find technology—Internet, smart phones, social media, etc.—enhances or inhibits the artistic experience? How has it affected your art?
MR. KIJI: Overall I would say it’s been positive. I have access to a larger audience not limited by geographic location.
EQ: What are other places you draw inspiration from?
MR. KIJI: I’ve been collecting and cataloging production idents from the 70’s and 80’s (If you’re interested search hashtag #stationidentification on Instagram). They’re unusual forgotten examples of early motion graphics and tend to have interesting and usually ominous John Carpenter-esque synth accompaniments.
EQ: Is it intimidating to do a mural the size of the one you created for our store?
MR. KIJI: I’ve been making personal and professional work on a large scale since I was a teenager, so it’s not really intimidating. Scale affords a speed, boldness and imperfections that work against you at a smaller scale.