‘OR x TWELVE ARTISTS x OTAQUEST+DA.YO.NE‘ is a collaboration between OTAQUEST, Yasumasa Yonehara, and OR. This project aims to shine the spotlight on an up-and-coming artist each month. Musical events, collaboration items, pop-up stores, and other events will take place at OR, a cultural hub located in the newly re-developed Miyashita Park in Shibuya, Tokyo. This time we sat down with the second artist to have an exhibition, Miranda Yokota. Miranda Yokota is an incredibly ambitious artist, who expresses their own outlook through nearly impossible to understand creations.
OTAQUEST: How did you feel about being invited to be a part of OR x TWELVE ARTISTS + DA.YO.NE.?
MIRANDA YOKOTA: When Yone initially approached me, he was telling me about how there were already plans to make T-shirts and have them be stocked at BEAMS. It genuinely felt like a dream. Honestly, I didn’t think he would ever consider having me do an exhibition, so I was in complete disbelief.
OTAQUEST: How do you feel now, having finished your exhibition?
MIRANDA YOKOTA: It felt like I was dreaming from start to finish. It honestly still feels like I’m dreaming.
OTAQUEST: How did you get to know Mr. Yonehara, and how did that lead to you having your own exhibition?
MIRANDA YOKOTA: I’ve been a fan of his for a long time, so I knew of him long before he knew me. He actually got in contact with me through a mutual connection. I’d been friends with Hayao Matsumura, the owner of this secondhand clothing store called Nude Trump and was looking at his Facebook one day and came across a picture of him and Mr. Yonehara together, so I liked it. That’s how Mr. Yonehara first got in contact with me. We made plans last summer to meet up and ended up getting Chinese food together. Afterwards we went to this bar called Kit Gallery and the conversation kinda kicked off from there.
OTAQUEST: When did you hear about doing your exhibition at OR?
MIRANDA YOKOTA: Around the end of October. Yone invited me out to go drinking, and when I got there, there were some people from OR as well. About a week after that I got some more info from OR, and they told me they were planning on having me in December. At the time I had no idea when the exhibition itself was going to start (laughs)
OTAQUEST: Did you make anything new for this exhibition?
MIRANDA YOKOTA: Most of what’s on display is previous work I’ve done, but there are some new pieces, like the mannequin and goggles.
OTAQUEST: What were your thoughts on the exhibition taking place at OR?
MIRANDA YOKOTA: I didn’t think there were going to be that many cameras, so I wore clothes that were reflective.
OTAQUEST: Ahh, yeah, the flash will make them shine.
MIRANDA YOKOTA: I wasn’t thinking about that at all, my bad (laughs). I was able to meet ☆Taku from m-flo and Yone introduced me to a bunch of people in a space where my own art was being displayed. It genuinely felt like a dream. The exhibition got rescheduled and started on the 4th, and my birthday is on the 5th, so they even brought me a cake. It was the best birthday ever.
OTAQUEST: That sounds like a birthday to remember. By the way, when did you start making art?
MIRANDA YOKOTA: I’ve been drawing since I was a little kid, but I only started taking it seriously in 2018.
OTAQUEST: What made you decide to take it seriously?
MIRANDA YOKOTA: When I was in college I got caught up in partying and playing around and became really boring. It was this cycle of going out and drinking and wasting my money, and I got tired of it. That’s when I thought ‘what do I really want to do with my time?’ and I decided to start drawing again.
OTAQUEST: What kind of art did you make?
MIRANDA YOKOTA: It was a work that combined the Buddhist concept of Kleshas with the Buddhist deity Avalokiteśvara. It was this two-dimensional piece that looked like it was three-dimensional. I liked the idea of using Buddha and Kan’non (Buddhist deity) as concepts, and I combined that with foreign banknotes that I had, the neck of a mannequin, and a black bra I bought at Shimamura (discount clothing store). I felt it was a waste to hold onto it, so I looked online for places where I could exhibit my work. That’s when I came across the Kyoto International Film Festival. I didn’t think they’d accept me, but I applied anyways, and they decided they wanted to show off my work.
OTAQUEST: I see, that was your first step as an artist. What made you take up art as a kid? Did you have someone in your family that was into art?
MIRANDA YOKOTA: There wasn’t anyone in my family that had an interest in art, but my mom was a fan of this kinda flashy children’s brand called Boo Foo Woo, so she made me wear it until I was well into middle school. Even now, I still like that brand. I think if you break it down, my art was influenced by the designs in those clothes. I had the opportunity to meet with the designer behind Boo Foo Woo two years ago, Mr. Asao Iwahashi, and he’s continued to be an influence of mine.
OTAQUEST: Wow, that’s amazing. How did you meet him?
MIRANDA YOKOTA: I found him on Instagram and sent him a DM telling him how thankful I was for his clothing and the influence he’s had on me. He responded back quite kindly, and we ended up meeting up in Harajuku. Then he gave me some clothes of his, and later on he came to a birthday event of mine. He’s been very kind to me.
OTAQUEST: It seems like fashion has been a big influence on you. Is there anything else that’s been an inspiration for you?
MIRANDA YOKOTA: I like watching music videos for my favorite artists.
OTAQUEST: I see right now that you’re playing Post Malone in your room. What other artists do you like?
MIRANDA YOKOTA: Obviously I’m a big fan of Post Malone, but I’m also a pretty big fan of Thundercat, Travis Scott, Die Antwoord, LittleBig, and $uicideboy$. I like artists who have their own worldview and their own unique flavor. That ends up being a big source of inspiration for me.
OTAQUEST: At first glance the colors and motifs you use in your work come across as eccentric and a bit psychedelic, but if you take a deeper look, it’s also quite cute. I think your ability to balance those is amazing. What do you tend to use as a motif when you make art?
MIRANDA YOKOTA: I think I tend to treat it almost like a diary. For example, one time I was super drunk and ended up busting some of my teeth, and that pain ended up coming out in my art. My feelings and things that’ve actually happened, my art is a reflection of both of those things coming together.
OTAQUEST: I think your ability to incorporate logos and motifs from your everyday and into art that seems almost otherworldly has a way of making the view not feel so alienated.
MIRANDA YOKOTA: Sometimes I’ll think the shape of a logo is cool, or I’ll think it looks cute, so I’ll end up using them in my art.
OTAQUEST: I feel as though eyes are a staple of your artwork and something that you tend to put a lot of attention towards. Even so, what was it that made you want to make goggles?
MIRANDA YOKOTA: There’s this hair salon in Nishinippori called JAMBO that I’ve been going to for a long time, and whose owners have treated me well. They’ve asked me to do a custom painting of their Louis Vuitton bags and such. During the summer one of the owners was like ‘MIRANDA, let’s make some accessories’, and so I decided to make goggles because it was the summer. They gave me all the supplies to start working, and when I made the goggles, I felt they had come out alright. They’ve been used in the lookbook for a brand called SOXSOCKS, and they’re also on sale at OR. It’s an indescribable feeling.
OTAQUEST: I feel as though doing custom art for sneakers and laptops has a certain charm to it that you don’t get with traditional paintings.
MIRANDA YOKOTA: I try to keep the ideas of designs and art separate, and I try not to put my art onto other people’s finished products.
OTAQUEST: Seeing as you make cut and sew clothes as well, I feel like you’re this mix between an artist and a designer.
MIRANDA YOKOTA: It makes me so happy to hear you say that, thank you. But it’s not that big of a deal. My clothes are on sale at Nude Trump.
OTAQUEST: On the first floor of OR there’re goggles and sneakers and other items, and it feels a bit like a custom art shop. Was that something that you intended for it to seem like? Where did you put the most attention towards, in regards to the exhibition space?
MIRANDA YOKOTA: It was probably the showcase, or maybe the video that I had playing. The biggest piece I had on display, called ‘Dabun’, was inspired by Takashi Murakami’s words ‘If art doesn’t sell, then it becomes trash’. It portrays this monster version of myself in a plastic bucket being carried along a conveyor belt. I placed bundles of cardboard next to the showcase to make it seem even more like it was trash. To convey the sense of it being trash whilst also not being trash.
OTAQUEST: Have you had any new inspiration since finishing your exhibition?
MIRANDA YOKOTA: I was able to sell one of my bigger pieces during this exhibition, and another piece is in the process of being sold. This was my first time selling art in any formal capacity. They came all the way out from the countryside to Tokyo just to see this installation and buy my art. Having been able to experience that felt amazing. The other piece that’s in the process of being sold was something that I made with the intention of having that person enjoy. I made sure to maintain my aesthetics and my own art style, but I also took into account their interests and things that would make them want to buy it. Moving forward, I’d like to make more art like that.
OTAQUEST: Has COVID impacted you this year? Did it have any sort of impact on your work?
MIRANDA YOKOTA: Not really, no. While I’m interested in politics and world news, my art is more influenced by my own emotions. However, Keith Estiler, the art director for HYPEBEAST US reached out to me and was interested in having me be part of a project with 16 other artists to make art regarding our views on COVID.
OTAQUEST: How did you and Keith connect?
MIRANDA YOKOTA: I had taken part in a joint exhibition that involved Lucien Smith’s Non-profit organization, Serving The People. I had met him there at the event and have kept in touch with him ever since. He was like ‘Let me know if you ever do a release or an exhibition’ and was kind enough to write an article about this current exhibition at OR.
OTAQUEST: Lucien Smith is someone that, even though he’s quite young, has made a name for himself in certain circles. How were you able to be a part of that joint exhibition?
MIRANDA YOKOTA: I had learned about Lucien looking for artists from Kunichi Nomura’s instagram story, and I immediately applied. I was ecstatic to have been selected to be among many famous artists for that show.
OTAQUEST: That sounds like you were given a wonderful opportunity! On a side note, I personally feel as though your art would be very popular overseas, and I’d love to see you be able to have an ever greater reach with your art. Wrapping up, what are your thoughts on 2021?
MIRANDA YOKOTA: It goes without saying that I’ll keep making art, but this collaboration with BEAMS was made with the type of clothes that I want to wear in mind. I want to make more art that many people will be able to pick up and look at and enjoy for themselves. I’d like to put more energy into making clothing and goggles in 2021. When people think of custom glue gun goggles I want them to think of me. I want to work on both my art and I want to work as a fashion designer moving forward.