Japan trip 2012 KONATSUNAGATA art show part 1

Here’s part 1 about my recent trip to Japan, for my 2 person art show with artist Konatsu and Max Toy stuff.

Return to Tokyo !
Has it really been a year and a half ? It seemed like only a few months ago, after many months of prepping and planning I was to travel to Tokyo for the second part of the Max Toy 5th Anniversary show … only to have the great earthquake and tsunami happen … it was very hard to cancel my trip but ultimately the concerns of my family meant I could not go. While the show went on and was well attended, I was sad i could not be there to show my support and encouragement.

So as we neared the time for me to leave, way back in my mind I thought, after again much work and coordination for this new show, a 2 person art show with artist Konatsu, could something go wrong again ;-P Nah ….

Arriving and check in at the airport was smooth and no problems …
We take off and all’s well …

About 2 hours into the flight, the Captain gets on the intercom .. “Hi Folks, this is your Captain .. There’s no need to worry, but … “

….Ummm, Yes, I’m worried !!! ….

.. he continues …” we have a crack or leak in a window in the cockpit … and it’s making a loud sound that will prevent us from flying to Japan, so we are turning around to go to Seattle … Oh and we can’t land right away cause we have a full tank so we have to fly around another hour and also dump fuel out the wing .. so if you see a bunch of liquid off the wing tips don’t worry ” …

What ?!!!

… at this point, I’m thinking the Toy Gods really don’t want me to return to Japan ;-P
Ok… so really nothing I can do .. but sit and see what happens. Worse case I have to spend a night in Seattle ( I’ve never been ) and leave the following morning … while I’d be late to set up the show at least I would make it for the reception … I hope …We land in Seattle ( a really hard landing by the way ) and once off the plane learn that another plane will be ready, so after about a 40 minute wait we board again .. and take off for a second time ! Oh, I also have to quickly text Yo-san, who will pick me up, that I will be late to land …and of course tell my wife I’m back in the US .. for the moment …

The ride was fine and I finally arrive at Narita at 10:30 pm, after nearly 15 hours of flying, and Yo-san and family greet me. From this point forward I have to say it’s really a big blur for me … we have the show to set up, there are numerous meetings and people to meet … !

I always feel like taffy at the end of these trips cause I’m pulled in so many directions and at the same time !!
I stay at the same place in Shinjuku, a no frills room.. but is decent, good price and the staff understands simple English .. plus I’m only in my room to sleep … it’s constantly on the go for these trips !! It’s nearly midnight by the time i fall asleep .. the next day is set up ! I fall into a deep sleep and as usual wake up at 3 am, 4 am and finally just get up at 5:30 am .. I’m fully awake… thank you, Jet Lag. The best thing about Japanese TV .. is well Japanese TV ;-P

Day 2, after a quick breakfast we make our way to Harajuku and the Design Festa complex to set up the show.
First, SunGuts and I go to another part of the building to stencil a wall they have … to be honest I have no idea what to do with a stencil, let alone make one .. but i did make one .. haha … and brought it along ….

Mine is so tiny !! … in the picture above the template is taped to the wall …

here mighty SunGuts preps his stencil for spraying …

.. I thought it was funny they really masked off the stencil with a lot of newspapers !

after spraying I had to pick off some of the paper … here I’m realizing I forgot to stencil the horns on top … oh well …

Back to the show, Yo-san, SunGuts and Dream Rockets and others all show up to help with the set up .. I’m very lucky to have such good follow toy makers and artists willing to help 😉
This time the show was much easier for us to set up as we only had a few pieces of art and my customs .. Konatsu’s helpers would set up her side …Konatsu and I worked on several 2 person artworks, with various subjects. This is a giclee, based on two separate paintings we did for a Medicom Negora release.
The main show image .. my City Cat versus Konatsu’s Country Cat. The process was several months back I painted my side plus the others below and sent them to Konatsu to add her art to them… the cool part was she was actually paying attention to what I had painted, if you look closely I’m in the paw of the City Cat .. so she did the same on her side !
Of all of them, this West vs East Dragon was the toughest for me, above .. I had to leave spaces open for her to wrap her dragon around .. she did a fantastic job in rendering her part !
and finally Nagata Drazoran x Konatsu Eyezon.

Needless to say, the items people in Japan and here in the US where waiting for were Konatsu’s hand painted customs… to say she hit a home run is an understatement … take a look for your self … !Vampy Negora !
My personal favorite was this tiger striped custom …beautiful ….
and of course they all sold the next day .. sorry !… She also had a series of micro Negora customs, but somehow I don’t have a picture of them …oops …Here’s Konatsu’s set up, missing her micro customs and a piece of artwork, all which were brought in the next morning for the public opening …
My customs .. looking very sad and lonely … I’m thinking why I’m I in this show anyways ??
Shows just about ready .. so we take a quick lunch break …Design Festa has a restaurant so we ordered food from them …yummy … !
This massive (!!) flower arrangement showed up from Medicom President Akashi-san ! Whoa .. did I say it was massive ?!! Such a kind thought and made us all feel good !

In between worrying about setting up and various other toy politic stuff … I’m able to take a few minutes to breathe, and take in the fact, that I’m really blessed to have such good supporters and friends … it’s really been so busy the past 2 years that it’s getting harder to just sit back and enjoy some of the projects we’ve done .. but I’m trying my best to do this.
Believe it or not, this will be the last show I do like this for the foreseeable future. We have so many projects coming up that will take all my time and attention… so knowing this … I know I ‘d better enjoy this show ;-P

The next time I’ll cover the artists reception, and opening day … !

About toykarma

Over the years Mark Nagata has collected thousands of toys and a fair amount of titles. The man behind San Francisco-based Max Toy Company is widely known as: Toy Collector. Illustrator. Magazine Founder/Publisher. Toy Designer. Artist. Author. Husband. Father. But the one description that might fit best is an unofficial one – Kaiju Toy and Art Ambassador. In the Japanese-inspired art and toy area, as well as throughout the larger toy collecting community, Mark is welcomed and recognized for his personal passion and commitment to supporting artists all around the world and the unique works they create. Beginning as a collector in his youth, Mark has had for years a keen eye for great art and a personal interest in collecting that he has spread through a variety of outlets. Trained at the Academy of Art College in San Francisco, Mark honed his skills working for himself and for some of the most notable businesses in the country. As a freelance commercial illustrator, he completed works for such prominent companies as Lucasfilms, DC Comics, Hasbro Toys, IBM, Sony, and numerous advertising and design firms, both national and international. Mark’s colorful style graces over 40 cover paintings for R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps book series – Give Yourself Goosebumps. After hundreds of assignments, Mark made the decision to move in another direction, and that choice has led to whole new career as a successful businessman. For four years, the owner of one of the largest Ultraman toy collections in the world co-published Super 7 Magazine showcasing the finest in Japanese toy collecting. “I’d been collecting Japanese toys all along and suddenly realized it would be cool to have a magazine of some type devoted to them,” Nagata says. Mark’s devotion to presenting collectors with a selection of original figures inspired by classic Japanese toys from the 1960s and ‘70s as well as new versions of licensed Japanese characters is at the heart of Max Toy Company. Named for his son, Max Toys specializes in custom and limited editions of “kaiju” (Japanese monsters) toys and artwork. Many of the original toys produced are hand painted by Mark, a tradition that goes back to Japanese toy makers of the past. “Since our target is the soft vinyl Japanese toy collector, which is a very small niche, our runs of toys can be extremely small,” Mark says. “Runs range from 500 pieces of one toy to just one for a hand-painted, one-of-a-kind custom figure.” Through Max Toys, Mark has taken great pains to widen the reach of his two passions – toys and art. He played a significant part in the development of the first group kaiju show in the United States. Held at the Rotofugi Gallery in Chicago, Illinois in 2007, the “Toy Karma” Show featured detailed work from artists from Japan, the U.S. and South America. Participants marveled at the custom-painted toys and art on display. “Toy Karma” led to Mark being asked to be one of the artists spotlighted in the “Beyond Ultraman: Seven Artists Explore the Vinyl Frontier” exhibit at the Pasadena Museum of California Art. The October 2007 show, held jointly with the Los Angeles Toy, Doll and Amusement Museum, marked the first time – in a museum setting – that the influence of Japanese toys on California artists was explored. The exhibit featured more than 30 of Mark’s original paintings, toys and a selection of his vintage toy collection. Mark continued to be at the forefront as interest in Japanese-inspired art and toys expanded in 2008. Prestigious art houses Philips De Pury and Christie’s in New York and London sold Mark’s hand-painted custom kaiju toys in its auctions, spreading this unique art and toy movement into new and uncharted areas of the art world. In 2009, Mark once again took his love of toys and art overseas this time to a receptive and welcoming audience in Tokyo, Japan. Here, Mark curated the “Kaiju Comrades” Art Show, once again bringing together artists from various aspects of the kaiju toy realm in this first-of-its-kind toy art show. The following year found Mark in Barcelona, Spain co-curating with Emilio Garcia “Kaiju Attack,” the European country’s first kaiju art show. As the growth of kaiju art and toys increases worldwide, Mark continues in his unofficial role of Kaiju Toy and Art Ambassador. He has written and had his artwork and toy designs included in several books and magazines, both domestic and international. In 2010, Mark served as guest lecturer on kaiju and the toy-making process at the Morikami Museum in Florida. The San Francisco resident and his art can also be spotted in the first volume of the “ToyPunks” DVD and the “Toys R Us” DVD, while the video for the number one song by Owl City “Fireflies” featured Mark’s popular Kaiju Eyezon character. During this same time period, Mark has spearheaded the “Toy Karma 2” and “Kaiju Comrades 2” shows and has plans for future shows both in the U.S. and overseas. “Max Toys allows me to produce original artwork, new toys and work directly with a lot of talented artists,” Mark says. “Max Toy is a synthesis of toys and art, both life-long passions.”
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