• UO Behind the Scenes: Mr. Kiji

    Recently, Mr. Kiji, a Japan born and New York raised artist, installed an epic mural in one of our busy Manhattan stores. We spoke to him about how it all came together.
    Interview by Katie Gregory

    Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

    I’m a creative person who focuses primarily on illustration, graphic art and animation. I’ve lived all over the place. I currently split my time on both coasts as well as a fair amount of time abroad.

    How did you decide what you wanted to do with this particular mural?
    I find working at a large scale very appealing. A large scale piece can take over and define the viewers' environment. A smaller piece tends to require the viewer to make a choice to come close and engage the art. I like that bigger pieces interact with the viewer, a passerby and the environment.

    I have several styles ranging from illustrative and literal to more formal and abstract. In the past 5 years I’ve come to really enjoy doing much more formal and abstract graphic large scale works. They tend to rely on the play between color and form and speak with some universal form and color language. I’ve been doing quite a bit of traveling internationally this year. I find myself drawn to the simplified personification of a nation, culture or people in their flag.

    How long did it take you to install this mural?
    It took eight days to paint the twelve panels in my studio, and about three hours to hang it onsite. It was a bit of a nail biter when it came to the install because it was the first time I’d gotten to see the entire piece.

    Any complications, or was it smooth sailing the whole time?
    With every project there are always bumps and setbacks but that’s part of the process. I come from an industrial design background and find that each project has problems to solve and therein lies the fun of figuring out how to execute a design. It can be a bit frustrating but ultimately a huge measure of why I personally like a piece.

    What’s your favorite thing about New York City?
    It’s the quintessential metropolis. We have seasons unlike LA. We have an amazing subway system, beautiful parks, and bars are open until 4 am. We have every type of food from around the world. Some of the people come just to dine at the finest restaurant but ultimately stay for the pizza.

    Where can we find you online?
    Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and my website.