Meet The Artist: Mogu Takahashi
Japanese artist Mogu Takahashi is the talented doodler responsible for the colourful artwork on our new collection of t-shirts. We asked her a few questions about her work and her upcoming exhibition, A Little Hat On You, so you can get to know her a little better!
How did you become an artist?
The beginning of my life as an artist is a little bit unique. I actually enrolled in architectural college because I was inspired by my uncle who is an architect. But the college wasn’t so interesting for me and I started skipping classes and spending my time drawing. I also started to sell postcards of my drawings in the park. One day a gallery owner dropped by and asked me, ‘Are you interested in exhibiting your work?’ He invited me to a group exhibition in New York! That happened when I was twenty years old. I still sometimes wonder, ‘what if I had become an architect?’, but I really enjoy what I’m doing now. I think I will keep drawing as long as possible, even when I get older.
What influences and inspires you?
Hmm… my inspirations come from everything around me. I like to draw animals and nature, especially their unique shapes and colours which inspire me a lot. Every morning, on the way to my atelier, is my patrolling time to collect pieces of ideas hidden in daily life. I like daydreaming in my head…
‘If I gave a hat to a rabbit, what kind of hat would that be?’
‘If this turtle could talk, what would he want to tell me?’
It’s a bit weird, but I think these things are part of what creates my style. Oh, and I dream every night too. I sometimes take inspiration from their stories and the colour contrasts.
Where do you live and work?
I live and work in Tokyo with a lovebird named Mame. My atelier is fifteen minutes’ walk from my house. I really like the location because it’s next to a big library and a park, and there is a friend’s cafe just 43 steps away. I call them my bookshelf, my garden and my kitchen! Also, I can hear children laughing and singing from the neighbourhood kindergarten. It’s so peaceful! It lets me turn off my Spotify.
Do you find the time to draw every day?
In 2013, I began a project called Mogu Daily Doodles and started drawing in a notebook and posting the pictures to Instagram every day. It connected me to many great artists, brands and publishers around the world – one of these was a collaboration with Gucci in 2016! Now drawing every day is more of a routine, not such a special thing for me. So, hmmm, maybe I don’t find time to do it every day. There are many drawing books left open in my atelier and house so that I can draw whenever I want.
Do you work in any other mediums, like sculpture or ceramics?
Sure, I love to try different ways and new materials! Actually, I held an exhibition in Tokyo of hand-sewn puppets that I made with socks and old clothes. It was really fun, but my atelier smelled like a secondhand shop for a while, a very good memory! I think trying something different makes for a good opportunity to learn about yourself from a new point of view. It’s true not only for creators but for everyone.
How did you discover Donna’s work?
The first time I saw Donna’s work was at Lili Scratchy’s house in Paris. Peeping Tom was relaxing on her sofa, hehe! And Lili also showed me Gideon Conn’s This Band Will Find Their Way Into Your Heart music video which features creatures by Donna. I became a big fan of her creatures and her world! My three favourites creatures are Pip, Angry Ginger and Peeping Tom.
And how did you come to collaborate with Donna?
Actually, I sent some of my zines and a little drawing of her creatures to Donna’s studio. She loved them and contacted me to work together. Even though I sent her my very ugly Pip & Peeping Tom drawings, hehe. I was very honoured – thanks to Donna and her lovely designers!
Do you have any favourite projects or collaborations?
That’s a difficult question – I’ve collaborated with different brands and designers, and each one is a favourite! But my longest working relationship has been with the Swedish brand, Fine Little Day. It will be eight years this year but it is always exciting! We’ve released many products and I have had two exhibitions at their studio. The FLY TO TOKYO poster is one of my favourite designs for them. I painted it after I travelled to Tokyo with them and luckily we saw Mt. Fuji from the aeroplane (just quickly!).
What’s your dream project or collaboration?
Haha, thanks for asking this. I love Paul Smith – not only as a brand, but I’m a big fan of his personality and uniqueness. I would LOVE to collaborate with him one day! If this dream could come true, I would be very honoured – I hope he sees this interview! Also, if I could have a solo exhibition in London one day, that would be wonderful too.
Do you have any exciting projects coming up?
Actually, now I’m making the final push for my upcoming exhibition in a gallery in Melbourne. It will be my first solo exhibition in Australia. I’m very excited to show my work here. If you are in Melbourne, please come to the exhibition!
Thank you so much, ARIGATO!
Mogu Takahashi’s exhibition, A Little Hat On You, opens at Lamington Drive, Melbourne, on Thursday 9th May and runs until Saturday 1st June, 2019. You can see more of Mogu’s work on her website and follow her on Instagram.