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Artist Interview No.1 -BOXER JUNTARO- vol.1

Do you ever enjoy art?
There are many people who think that art is out of their reach because it has a high-minded image or because they wonder what the fascination is in the first place.
However, art is now attracting attention from a variety of perspectives, such as Banksy’s work in Tokyo, the idea that art can be useful for business, and as a tax-saving measure for companies and as an investment target for the Corona disaster. In fact, the contemporary art market is becoming more active worldwide.

I wish I could talk about this at another time, but I believe that the greatest appeal of art is the “power of transmission” of the work and feeling the power of the artist.

Therefore, in order to introduce Japanese contemporary art to the world, THAT IS GOOD would like to introduce some of the artists that we think are “good”! We hope to help you understand the power of the artworks as well as your interest in the artists and their works!

This time, I would like to introduce you to BOXER JUNTARO.
BOXER JUNTARO SOLO EXHIBITION Curated by TOKYO URBAN ART” will be held from May 19 (Wed) to May 25 (Tue), 2021.
The exhibition will include his recent works, new works, and silkscreen works with Covid-19 pandemic.


※This exhibition has been closed.

Period: Wednesday, May 19, 2021 – Tuesday, May 25, 2021
Opening hours: 11:00 – 19:00 *Open until 20:00 on Saturdays and Sundays, until 18:00 on the last day
Location: “no-ma”
Address: Rise Bldg. 1F, 13-17 Udagawa-cho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Access: 5 min. walk from Hachiko Exit of Shibuya Station
※The opening hours may be shortened or cancelled depending on the situation of the spread of the covid-19 outbreak.

There will be a total of four articles (the interview was too interesting, so it may be extended), including BOXER JUNTARO’s thoughts on creating artworks, some interesting incidents, and stories about his daily life on the streets of Osaka and overseas!


“I really want people to see my work in person, and I feel this even more strongly now that more and more of my work is being transmitted digitally through SNS and the Internet.
Original pictures are amazing. I’d like you to judge whether my pictures have that kind of power. Most works of art make you tired because the artist’s power is twisted into them. That’s what I want you to feel. If you just look at it from a different angle, it will look different. I’m talking to you via zoom this time (this interview was conducted via web), but isn’t there a power of face-to-face interaction? It’s the same with artworks, the power of seeing them through a monitor or smartphone screen is completely different from the power of seeing them in person.”

BOXER JUNTARO, who gave us a simple but energetic comment, has been active for more than 20 years this year. He answered with a smile, “It’s not like we did after the 15th anniversary event, we did the 20th anniversary event exactly five years later.” It seems that he came here with a very casual sense.

I didn’t go to an art school, and I didn’t start my own design company, so if you ask me when I started, I’m not sure.
But when I went through the change from being a student to a working adult, everything went completely blank. It was like all the paths I had been thinking about disappeared. At first, I wanted to join the Self-Defense Forces. My grandfather, who took good care of me, was in the navy, and I longed to join. But before I could apply, there was a peacekeeping operation (PKO). That’s when I lost sight of the meaning of the Self-Defense Forces. It was supposed to be for the protection of the Japanese people, but why were they going to other countries, and why were some people dying there? I thought about going into martial arts again, but around that time, I was hit by a car. Then it all went totally blank lol In the midst of all this blankness, what came to mind was painting. I’ve loved drawing since I was a kid, so I decided to make a career out of it. I taught myself how to draw, and here I am now.

When I asked him if he had any artists as inspirations, he said not really. He says that he is inspired by many things that come into his mind in his daily life, and that he meets things and people that he likes, but he doesn’t remember being influenced by anyone in particular.

That’s why he started his activities to promote his art in a unique way.
The desire to draw and to be seen led him to start a brand called BOXER in about 2000, where he made T-shirts of his works. The reason he did this was because he thought that if people walked around wearing his paintings, more people would see them.

At the time, I didn’t understand the genre of apparel, and I thought that all places that sold clothes were “clothing stores”, so I just went to all kinds of stores lol Anyway, I went to a lot of stores. I think that helped me expand a lot.

Then, after receiving advice from a senior colleague, he jumped into BEAMS. He thought it would be rude to visit BEAMS without contacting them, so he called first.

That’s how I was introduced to the top buyer. We’re still good partners today. He took a look at our samples and said, “Let’s do it right away! He said, “Let’s do it right away!” and we were able to expand nationwide right away, so it sold quite well lol

The BEAMS STREET painting that became the starting point

From there, he started to work on a glass wall painting for a store called BEAMS STREET, which was going to open in Ikebukuro. It was at this time that he first encountered acrylic gouache (a color-rich paint often used for illustration), which would later become the key to his style.

I was thinking, “How can I paint well on a glass surface so that many people can see my work? That’s how I came across acrylic paints.
Before that, I had a different style of painting, and I was trying out different things. I wrote what I wanted to write… I tried oil painting and watercolor. I tried oil paintings and watercolors, but glass repels water and oil, so you can’t paint with normal painting materials. Anyway, I tried acrylics at that time, and I think it was Turner, and the color was really good. The first work I painted on glass was the starting point of my subsequent style.

This was a major turning point in his mind, not only in terms of art materials and style, but also in the way he thought about exhibitions. Until then, each work had a different style, but after this event, he began to think in terms of a unified theme.

For example, I look at the next exhibition hall and think about how it will look when it is displayed, like, “I have 10 paintings lined up on that wall. I want people to see it better. Anyway, I also feel that I can never lose to someone who has graduated from an art school.
Even now, when I say this, my friends who have graduated from art school get mad at me and say, ‘Give me a break with that’ lol

In 2020, I heard that some exhibitions were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. I asked him if there was any change in his sense of values due to the covid-19, or if he felt depressed.

I wasn’t feeling particularly down for myself… I guess I was doing something. I’ve started posting my illustrations on Instagram.
I also started silk-screening. I used to do T-shirt printing myself, so I was interested in it. I actually joined a company that did silk screen printing and studied it.

The process of creating a silkscreen work①
The process of creating a silkscreen work➁

The process of creating a silkscreen work③

Also, I bought an iPad. I was recommended it because they say “Because it definitely fits your art style!” I used it for my Instagram posts, but, I realized that I need to draw it live.
I felt uncomfortable. I finally felt more comfortable with it, but there were still parts that I couldn’t fill in. If I make a mistake, I can go back to it right away, right?
When you’re drawing live, when you make a mistake or an error, there’s a flash of inspiration from the “Aha!” Paint splattering, for example. With digital, you don’t have that. It’s also easy to trace, and there are people who call it art, but… I’m gonna kick your ass! lol
For me, a work of art is something that I’ve twisted myself into, so I think it’s important to be able to feel the breath of it. A work of art that is not raw is just a printed matter, without any good errors.
Now that I’ve used it, I can say that I feel like, “I’m not going to be defeated by any artist who works digitally! lol

Illustrations drawn using an iPad.
Illustrations drawn using an iPad.

JUNTARO is so hot! 
I felt that the driving force behind the creation of highly original works is the gracefulness of trying out everything, asking for advice from specialized companies if necessary, and making it your own while quickly letting go of it if you find it unnecessary.
I personally don’t have anything against digital art, but I can relate to the passion of analog art, so I asked him about the message of his work.

I guess I’m not the type to stockpile thoughts. There are people who want to share their philosophy. It’s not that I don’t have a philosophy, but I draw because I want to. It’s a sense of a child.

I got the impression that BOXER JUNTARO consistently focuses on “drawing” and “having people see my work” as the axis of his production. In any case, he has achieved what he has today through repeated trial and error in order to “get his work seen.
If I may sound arrogant, I got the impression that he is very pure, like a child showing a picture he drew, much more so than the desire for approval sometimes shown by artists who are more self-produced.

His rebelliousness against the elite who have graduated from art school (I don’t know if there is such a thing, or if he was joking in the first place), and the fact that his heart is reflected in the process of making an effort to get his work out into the world, instead of going to the negative elements, are all manifestations of his purity. That’s why the painting style is simple and powerful, I selfishly imagine.

Now that I think I’ve introduced BOXER JUNTARO as an artist, I’d like to introduce the episodes of his exhibition in the next article!


instagram : https://www.instagram.com/boxerjuntaro/?hl=ja

He began his career as a self-taught painter. His artwork with simple, strong lines and vivid colors has attracted attention in a wide range of fields. He has provided graphics for many brands and famous artists. In addition, he has gained tremendous support from the street scene and is involved in a wide range of activities, including constant events involving many people.

Text: THAT IS GOOD Editorial department, Koga