Toshio Maeda Interview Part 3
This time we talk zombies, chikan, graffiti and a seemingly endless attempt to twist Toshio’s tentacle to come an paint with us…
David Sausage: Where did all the ghosts, monsters and creatures come from in your work?
Toshio: I don’t know, it just sort of came,,, you know of a monster or a creature,, maybe from older manga books or a miss(?)
David Sausage: Mist?
Toshio: Mist, how can I say? Actually, I don’t like depicting such creatures. It’s creepy or eerie, ghosts or spirits. It’s just a weird feeling Japanese get watching that kind of thing but zombies? Why Westerners are so afraid of such things?! It’s nothing! (zombie sound) moving slow! Just try to bite you err… That’s it.
INKFETISH: Adventure kids had a lot of Zombies,,, Zombie Nazis didn’t it?!
Toshio: Yeah yeah, so probably,,, I’m really afraid of myself, inside of me, because sometimes I don’t know who I am. That’s the most scary part. I’m just really scared with human beings. Sometimes I really scare the shit out my wife.
David Sausage: Have you ever wanted to try spraypainting?
Toshio: I haven’t done that.
David Sausage: Have you used airbrushes before?
Toshio: Yes. I used to do that.
David Sausage: It’s similar to that on a larger scale.
Toshio: So how could you have an image at the same time as creating a big picture? because it’s really hard to take a look right from a distance. Basically you are really close to the wall.
David Sausage: It’s in your mind. Already. Like the whole picture is there and you’re already standing back. I never think about it really. You just get a feel for the whole image.
INKFETISH: When I start I do a sketch. So I sketch first and then I usually stand back. Look at it. Then say “that needs to change, that bit needs to change..” come forward change a bit, stand back and look at it.
Toshio: Oh, I see.
David Sausage: I wonder if Toshio would like to paint with us?
INKFETISH: That’d be amazing wouldn’t it?!
Toshio: With spray?? I.. I think it’s impossible!
David Sausage: Ahh…
INKFETISH: it’d be interesting for you…
Toshio: It’s ah,,, how can I say (Arnie-type movie voice) not under my jurisdiction!
Toshio: How many colours available?
INKFETISH: err.. thousands. If I paint a wall I usually bring this bag and put like 20…25 cans in there.
Toshio: oh… Can you mix?
INKFETISH: You can mix but it’s very complicated. But you can also get shadow paint now so you can use paint to make it darker… It’s hard to explain.
Toshio: like white highlighting?
INKFETISH: Yeah kind of. Graffiti now is a multiple million dollar industry.
Toshio: you can be rich?
INKFETISH: You could become rich. Some people have made money from it because they’ve paint for like twenty years on the streets and then they start painting canvases and going to galleries.
When people buy their work, it’s not just the artwork they are buy because they know this person is famous for painting on the streets for twenty years so it makes their artwork more valuable.
Toshio: Hmmm hmmm
INKFETISH: because they have this notorious background.
Toshio: Do you think you are ahead of the game?
INKFETISH: No. I’m quite young so… Graffiti started in the 70’s
Toshio: So long ago?!
INKFETISH: Yeah, so it’s still a new artform because it’s still only thirty years old. Some people we call them like the oldskool, some of the oldskool writers are like ten years older than me… they’re thirty five… forty… But no I’m still quite young. I’m quite well known. I know most of the graffiti artists and they know who I am… Everybody knows each other and we paint together.
Toshio: that’s the thing. To be a painter of course you need an artistic sense but… On top of that you also need…
INKFETISH:… good can control. You know, technically good.
INKFETISH: Also, if you have done illegal graffiti you get more respect.
Toshio: Wow it’s quite risky!
INKFETISH: Yep… So if you do a train, if you paint a train those people are considered to be most popular.
Toshio: Its like the skating on a thin ice. Once you get busted you get in the trouble, right?
INKFETISH: Yeah. But they think it’s worth it because they get respect from the streets , their name becomes famous. If a graffiti artist gets his name in the papers then the media talk about him, but he actually likes it because it makes him more famous.
Toshio: Like the same line of joke. We are talking my friend and I and once,,, you know he got busted as a rapist and you know,,, the reputation is getting better as you know, the x-rated cartoonist…
Toshio: haha you know, obviously its a joke.
INKFETISH: y’know Ricky Gervais, he said at some award ceremony, he got into trouble for saying “being famous is easy these days, if you want to be famous go and kill a prostitute”
Toshio: ahh yeah.
INKFETISH: You know it’s true. If all you want is people to talk about you just go and do something bad.
David Sausage: Or go on twitter.
Toshio: You know we are always talking about the sexual pervert, on the train… and we get busted… Just like that. But it’s a no news because it’s explained… He’s an x-rated cartoonist
David Sausage: That’s a big problem in Japan these days isn’t it? Chikan. But these days women are accusing men who haven’t done anything.
Toshio: I don’t know what their purpose to do that is,,,, they just doing that…
David Sausage: Scary isn’t it? Especially if you’ve got a family.
INKFETISH: Or an important job.
Toshio: Some guys put both hands on the handrails now to show they are innocent, I’m not doing anything wrong.
David Sausage: Aha…it wasn’t me,,, that was just my tentacle coming out!
David Sausage: When did you start painting, INKFETISH?
INKFETISH: When I was about thirteen or fourteen, but only just tagging. I started painting more artistically when I was about nineteen or twenty.
David Sausage: Did you have somebody take you under their wing?
INKFETISH: I started painting with a lot of guys from London who were a lot older and they’d already done all the illegal stuff and they just wanted to chill out at the weekends and paint walls. Oldskool guys like Skire. Because I wasn’t up to their skill level I wanted to impress them. I’d seen their stuff in magazines for years I just wanted to be as good as those guys, you know what I mean? I think that gave me the pressure to develop my style quickly. I just watched how they painted you know, to see how they did it. I’m not the kind of person who’ll ask questions “How’d you do this?.. How’d you do that?..” I’d just stand there and quietly watch. But I don’t think graffiti is particularly difficult if you are an artist and you already draw or paint.
David Sausage: That’s what I was saying to Toshio. If you can already use an airbrush…
Toshio: It was thirty years ago I used to do that for the cover of a magazine.
INKFETISH: I’ve used airbrush before but you had to change each colour and clean it out each time, it’s too much labour. With spraypaint you can cover a huge wall in two or three hours. It dries very quickly two or three seconds later.
Toshio: Is that right?
David Sausage: Good paint will go on to ANYTHING brick, paper, glass, fabric,,, furniture things like that.
Toshio: So how do you get rid of that?
INKFETISH: With special, powerful chemical blasting sprays. They hire special graffiti removal teams.