Wrappr: Have you always wanted to be an artist?
Bakeneko: I’ve always had a passion for art ever since I was a child. I decided to pursue it seriously when I started the BAKENEKO brand about a year and a half ago.
W: Tell us a bit about your background, and how you got to where you are now
B: I was born and raised in Tokyo Japan, but I am half white. My biracial background has always made me question identity and polarity, and I often explore these topics in my work. In my high school senior exhibition, I based my projects around the theme, “West meets East”, where I combined iconic imagery from Japanese and American culture to explore the world through my lenses.
I started BAKENEKO when VLOT, a well known street artist in Japan, introduced me to slap tagging. He gave me a VANDAL SET which included blank priority mail stickers, Japanese mail stickers, and many other adhesives. I would doodle on these and paste them around the streets of Tokyo. At first it was a hobby, but when I saw the overwhelming positive responses and growth on the Instagram account, I realized the potential BAKENEKO had.
W: What type of work do you do for your clients?
B: I usually get commissioned to create illustrations for apparel, as well as various packaging designs. I create custom designed stickers for events as well.
W: Which of those do you enjoy most right now?
B: Any project that allows me to embrace my artistic style and creativity is definitely the most enjoyable. I always want to be different, and create things people have never seen before. Since I have a unique background and perspective on the world, I want to tell stories through my experiences and shed light to new ideas, designs, and emotions.
W: What type of work do you do for your own enjoyment?
B: My most recent milestone project was when I held my first solo art exhibition and popup store in Seattle WA. It was a sold out show with multiple media coverages including Seattle’s King5 News. Through the event I met so many wonderful people who showed love to my work. Seeing people spark conversations and make connections through my work was very exhilarating. It made me rediscover my passion for art, the impact art has on people, and the beauty of it.
W: What work of yours would you like to be remembered for? Or is it something you are working on?
B: Definitely my characters. I like to explore human emotions, and express them through my characters, whom are colorful and charming, yet possess uncanny and sometimes disturbing undertones. Each of them experience conflicts within them that many people face in real life. I hope my characters and their backstories resonate with people and their emotional experiences.
W: What is your creative process?
B: I create the best work when I let my subconscious take over. I think it brings out raw creativity and emotions that are unique to myself. I like to describe my art style as “doodling taken to the next level.”
W: What are you planning to create next?
B: I am looking to create more 3D work with my new 3D printer. I am learning to design and produce collectible toys based on the characters I design. I also have multiple big projects coming up with rappers, influencers, and businesses which I am looking forward to.
W: Where do you find inspiration?
B: I take inspiration from both Japanese and American art. l’m greatly influenced by traditional Japanese style paintings called Nihonga, which my grandfather taught me, as this was my first memory of art. I always had a love for pop art and lowbrow art as well.
W: How do you feel about being involved with Wrappr?
B: I was over the moon when Wrappr reached out to me. Furoshiki has always been a part of my life, and to be able to design one was a dream come true. It was also the perfect opportunity for me to explore my culture and show the world my art style. I also made sure to design something that my Japanese mother would approve and like!
W: What are your thoughts on the climate crisis, zero-waste products, things you’re doing to be environmentally friendly, etc.
B: I think the climate crisis is something everyone needs to be aware of for the earth’s sustainability. Something I’ve been working on recently is eating less meats, and sticking to plant based diet in order to reduce the carbon footprint. I think Furoshiki are incredible alternatives to paper bags and wrapping paper. Not only are they sustainable, but they are unique, stylish, and Japanese! I hope more people become aware of Furoshiki for our environment.