We had the good fortune of connecting with JUURI and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi JUURI, what’s one piece of conventional advice that you disagree with?
“Nobody makes money from art… become a graphic designer instead.” This is what people told me before I went to college, so I listened to them and studied design. I love design, but I always wanted to create art as my job. To my delight, It turns out that you can make a living with fine art. The internet has revolutionized the art world so much in just 10-15 years.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’m a Japanese+American artist. I was born in Tokyo, but grew up in the US since age six. My art is driven by themes of Japanese history, folklore, and kabuki plays. When I paint these subjects, I feel both a comforting nostalgia, and the joy of discovering something new about Japan. I spent most of my time painting big murals outside, but since covid had reduced the number of initiatives, I also paint in my studio.
The path to me becoming a full-time artist was a long one, since I had graduated from college in 2006 with a graphic design degree. In 2010, I decided to start painting and showing my work. In 2014, I did my first (huge) mural and fell in love with the process. Things have snowballed since then. With consistent online presence and targeted networking, now most of my clients and work comes to me without me having to seek it out.
The process was long and definitely not easy. I think my main problem was getting confused about my goals, or what I really wanted to focus on. Working on murals has narrowed that down a lot for me. Street art and custom mural companies are a rather new thing in the world; it’s not a business model that has been around for decades, so the mural community definitely supports each other.
I think the most consistent thing I’ve learned is that when I try to focus my work on what I think will please or impress others, nobody notices. It’s when I’m being most authentic to my vision and dreams that people respond to my art. I have to remind myself that daily, since with my graphic design background I tend to get into “pleasing client mode.”
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
– Any side street… explore! Tokyo is very safe and packed with restaurants, shops, and glorious parks.
– Asakusa: Temples, traditional streets, and fairly authentic souvenirs
– Shimokitazawa: trendy artsy vibes area with lots of independent coffee shops, galleries, and clothing shops.
– Japanese bakeries. Any bakery. You’ll enter bread heaven.
– The Observation Deck at the Tokyo Metropolitan building has a 360 panorama of Tokyo, and it’s free!
– Harajuku, because it’s so iconic. Jyangara Ramen is one of my faves. Nearby is Meji-Jingu, a beautiful shrine and park.
– Watch a kabuki play (an unforgettable cultural experience, fancy like going to the Opera) at Kabukiza in Ginza.
For Oklahoma City:
– The arts districts are full of galleries, shops and street art! Plaza District, Midtown, Paseo, Automobile Alley
– Goro Ramen for the best Japanese ramen in town.
– Yuzo Sushi Tapas for the best sashimi and sushi.
– Jones Assembly for the nicest drinks and atmosphere!
– Elk Valley is my favorite brewery. For an even better view, check out Social Capital which carries tons of local beers including Elk Valley.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
To my parents, who never put pressure on me to study or be something I didn’t want to be, and who truly support everything I do in my art career.