Houston/PROJECT winner – TAK Aoyama

Japanese artist TAK Aoyama recently won the Houston/PROJECT and his design now takes pride of place on our store’s wall at Elizabeth Street.

Check out TAK creating his winning bovine design below followed by our Q&A….


First off, what does ‘TAK’ mean?

My full first name is Seitaku. “Sei” means sincerity, and “taku” means pioneering – TAK is a shortened version.

Tell us about your background – how did you get into street art?

I’m not a street artist, but my canvases include street walls. After experiencing various fields such as sales, marketing, toy design, and graphic design, there came a point where my desire for expression spilled over the brim and needed to be put into another container, which was being an artist.

What was your inspiration for the painting?

Three things:

1- Expressing “rag & bone” non-verbally

The idea of rag & bone is much like an umbrella covering two different elements. After lots of self-mumbling and ideation, I came up with two different types of buffaloes. One ragged and one with a strong bone structure, hence expressing the name “rag & bone” through these two buffaloes.

2- Creating at real scale
Hearing the dimensions of the wall, I wanted to release life-sized bovinous animals on the streets of Manhattan. I gained secret enjoyment from thinking about well-dressed gentlemen and ladies passing by these two buffaloes.

3- Color

The color palette took inspiration from the existing rag & bone denim line.

What is your creative process like – is it spontaneous or measured?

It’s never spontaneous. My thought process is self-interrogative.
Coming up with challenging questions, I lead myself into comprehensive solutions layering stories, elements and colors. For this mural, knowing the wall dimension as well as checking the street view were integral in the development of this piece, for example the way the light filters through the trees to cast shadows and the tree alignment on the street. I wanted my piece to become a part of the street and the city.

How would you describe your signature style?

I use a diverse color palette in conjunction with a segmented style of depiction to express that everything in this world consists of various aspects, both hidden and revealed. Each entity is then connected through some form of circulation: life and death, emotion and material objects. This is my base concept.

Which artist do you currently admire?

I really admire the artwork of Taro Okamoto as well as his life philosophies. One phrase I enjoy is: “Fight against yourself as your own enemy.”




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