The Man in Between Two Phrases

June 11, 2016 2016年6月11日



Shun Kawakami is a Japanese artist and designer known for his signature style and ingenious approach that adopts the beauty of traditional Japanese aesthetics. He was born in Fukugawa, the old town of Tokyo, where Edo-era culture is still deeply engrained into the daily life of residents there. “Being born in that town and being raised by my grandfather who was a traditional craftsman influenced me a lot. He was the typical Edokko and actually used to wear a kimono everyday.”


After working several years as a designer for a small company, Kawakami left and began working independently. He did a bit of graphics design for +81 Magazine, which was generating a lot of buzz in Japan at the time and is now regarded as one of the most innovative art and culture publications. Kawakami’s work started to receive attention overseas, and that recognition eventually turned into numerous prestigious international awards. Not complacent in the success, Kawakami continued to explore different creative methods of self expression. Also around this same time, Kawakami set off on his tour that took him around the world exhibiting his art.

デザイナーとして数年間会社勤めした後に独立した川上氏は、「+81 magazine」等のグラフィックデザインを手がけ、国内で注目を浴びるようになる。やがて、海外からも目にとまるようになった氏の作品は、国内外からの賞を数々受賞するようになった。同時に、川上氏は独自の表現を追求し続けるため、精力的な個展巡礼を始めた。

Kawakami is actively involved in a wide array of creative endeavors: he dabbles in interactive art, film, product design, and installation art, among others. “To me, there isn’t much difference between art and design,” Kawakami says. He says that even though these two forms of expressions are completely different things, the approach feels the same.

今日に至っての川上氏の領域は多岐にわたり、 アート、 デザイン、タイポグラフィック、インタラクティブ、映像、インスタレーション、空間演出など、アートとデザイン双方から多方面へアプローチを続け、国内外問わずグローバルに活動を行っている。「僕にとって、デザインとアートって、そんなに違いはなくて」と自信のアプローチについて語った川上氏、表現に違いはあれど、彼にとって、向き合い方は同じものだと言う。

The majority of Kawakami’s artwork involves Japanese pines trees. He’s fascinated in the asymmetrical nature of their form, and the organic flow of their lines. In the disarray of leaves and branches, he’s able to find a sense of beauty. Kawakami combines the unique features of these Japanese trees with his masterful use of negative space to create beautiful pieces of art.


Kawakami still tours alongside his art and hosts exhibitions around the world. He says that traveling not only exposes him to different cultures, but it also provides him a huge amount of artistic inspiration. Kawakami considers his travels to to be a crucial aspect of his work. “By traveling to many places, you’re exposed to new experiences and knowledge. I can then convert them to my ‘phrase’ and that inspires me to produce new pieces of art.”


Facebook: ~/shunkawakami
Instagram:  ~/shunkawakami

Facebook: ~/shunkawakami
Instagram:  ~/shunkawakami

Contributor, Photographer & Videographer: Yasuyuki Kubota
dditional Images Courtesy of Shun Kawakami

寄稿者、カメラマン&ビデオ撮影: Yasuyuki Kubota
Additional Images Courtesy of Shun Kawakami

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