Behind The Scenes With Tokyo Jesus

The Toy Chronicle is proud to give you a little taste of the world of T.J.Sayu aka Tokyo Jesus. Sculptor, painter, toy designer, neo-Japan character designer opens his world to you. Over the years many collectors and fans have asked various questions and wanted to see Tokyo Jesus work his magic. We pick his brains and give you some footage of TJ working on his sculptures. Hold on tight the time has come to enter the world of Tokyo Jesus, Free your mind.

TTC: From your paintings, customs and original sculpts all so powerful which medium do you prefer to work with? 

TJ: There are tonnes of the world of Tokyo Jesus images in my brain. So I draw very rough sketches to digest these. It is the most favourite way for me.

Tokyo Jesus sketches 2015
Tokyo Jesus sketches 2015 WIP
Tokyo Jesus sketches WIP
Tokyo Jesus sketches alice and beans stalks
Tokyo Jesus sketches 2017
Tokyo Jesus sketches
Tokyo Jesus sketches skulls and sweets 2

TTC: Your earlier days working for Bandai and jewellery brand Tokyo Jesus did it help set the foundations of being an art toy sculpture?

TJ: Yes. These gave me a lot of good experience. Making some Pokemon and Kaiju-sofubi experience became knowledge how to make a good toy.  I use some jewellery tools for making my own art toys. The most important thing these job experience taught me is it needs to think about the business side of things all the time if you want to continue making something.

TTC: Unlike some artists, you’ve translated your drawings and paintings into perfect translations to a sculpture. What’re the two sculptures that you are the proudest of? 

TJ: Queen and Princess

TTC: 2012 was the gateway year to the west as you had a number of group exhibitions in galleries like Hive Gallery. How did the opportunity come about? 

My wife Eimi and I were finding a way to have a show in western countries. But we couldn’t speak English and Facebook or Instagram was not so famous in Japan then. We figure out an agent company of doing a worldwide gallery show in Tokyo. At first, we asked them to introduce a few US galleries.  Fortunately, the Hive gallery (LA) owner Nathan Cartwright had high opinion both of us. He gave us a lot of opportunities for group shows and introduced our art to the USA.

TTC: Back in 2015 when our dear friend “good life toys” commissioned you for a custom Deathshead, watching all the WIP photos you uploaded it made the piece connect with us and more. Did you have a hard time trying to incorporate a platform into your style of art and making it work like you did with the custom? 

TJ: I respect the design of Deathshead.  So I didn’t want to change a lot the platform. It made the work so hard but the piece became so good harmony with my style. If I get a chance to custom it again, I would like to change a lot from the original Deathshead next time. I appreciate to “Good life toys” because custom Deathshead was one of the important turning points of my career. It was first custom figure commission for me.

Custom David Flores Deathshead By Tokyo Jesus

TTC: Your wife Eimi Takano is also an artist who has a different style and totally opposite to yourself . Have you been tempted to jump into Eimi cute world? 

TJ: Honestly, I love cute stuff and want to fill my room with kawaii things and skulls. lol  Her cute+little bitter style is perfect and I’m a big fan of her world. Sometime I would like to jump into her world but I don’t want to collapse her world by my style. So I refrain it now, lol.

TTC: Do you listen to music when you’re sketching/customising?

TJ: Yes. It inspires my art a lot. I listen to everything. Punk rock, Alternative rock, Ethnic music, Industrial, movie soundtrack, anime song, electro. I love music.

TTC: You began making jewellery, how similar is the process compared to statues and figures?

TJ: It’s almost same process. Draw designs, make an original sculpture and the mold. A different point is casting silver or resin.

TTC: If you had a choice to do a collaboration who would it be with past and present? 

TJ: I couldn’t choose one artist, Takeya Takayuki, Scott Wilkowski, Sket One, Yasushi Nirasawa, Simon Lee, Katsuya Terada, Ashley Wood, Eimi Takano, Pushead, Mark Ryden, Yoshitomo Nara, Chet Zar, Tsutomu Nihei and more!

Infected Micro Wootkowski - $30 (assorted colors)

TTC: If you had to pick two pieces of equipment to take with you on a desert island which ones would it be?

TJ: Underwear and a good pillow.

Developer of “Hizamakura”, or lap pillow, Makoto Igarashib reclines as he introduces the product at Trane Co., Ltd.’s HQ on December 14, 2004 in Tokyo, Japan. The “Hizamakura”, priced at 8,980 yen (86 USD), is a life-size pillow in the shape of a woman’s hip and legs and is one of popular prize items for the Christmas and year-end parties. (Photo by Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images)

TTC: It must have been an amazing feeling when Kidrobot gave you a production dunny. How was the process for you? 

TJ: Making production with the awesome team was so great to experience.  Every process amazed me. I would like to make more production toys.

TTC: Any top tips for artists and customizers out there who look up to you as an artist?

TJ: Everyone wants to see a style we have never seen. Make unique stuff. I think it’s an only way to become a good artist.

TTC: Can you walk us through your workspace, and what are some of your favourite things about your space.

TJ: There are many favourite kinds of stuff in our studio.  Paintings, sculptures and art toys made by awesome artists. Most favourite is Eimi’s WIP pieces. We are going to move a new studio next year. Not in Tokyo next place but If you have a chance,  please visit there.

TTC: We’re foodies what’s your one food you cannot like without?

TJ: Coffee and Tonkatsu (Japanese pork cutlet).  I couldn’t work with no coffee. I don’t know why I love the black bitter liquid. If you have a chance to visit Japan please try Tonkatsu.

(image lifted from anyguide.com Alan Wooding)

TTC: If theirs an artist who you guys would love to work with, who would it be?

TJ: Yoshitomo Nara for sure!

(image lifted from http://trampt.com/ )

Some quick-fire questions

Favourite colour? 

Red.

Money is no object – what do you do first?

I’ll make many art production toys.

If you could meet any person (dead or alive) who would it be?

Someone who knows this universe’s truth.

What is the one book or film you think everyone should see?

Art book “NIRA WORKS” by Yasushi Nirasawa.    

You could give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?

Study English more hard. lol

Hope you all enjoyed a little insight into Tokyo Jesus and we would like to thank him once more for taking time out of his busy schedule.

You can find some Tokyo Jesus goodness at   aliceandbeanstalks.com/shop

You can find Tokyo Jesus via http://www.tokyojesus.net/Instagram , Twitter and Facebook.

BIO

Sayu (As known as Tokyo Jesus)

Sculptor, Painter, Toy designer, Character designer.

 All works are produced by the artist T.J. Sayu. He was born in a local green city, Takahashi in Okayama, Japan. He moved to Road Island in USA with his family when he was 3 years old and returned to Japan when he was 7. The experience has made an impact on his entire life and his art activities. In his teens, he was absorbed in surrealist painters of Mark Ryden, Salvador Dali, H.R.Giger and many manga and/or anime artists such as Katsuhiro Otomo, Go Nagai , Mamoru Oshii and Hayao Miyazaki.

In his twenties, he knew about works of artists Hans Bellmer, Kamehachi Yasumoto, Ryo Yoshida, Takayuki Takeya, Yasushi Nirasawa, Katusya Terada and Kow Yokoyama. It made him start making sculptures.  In his late twenties he was obsessed in the movement of Pop-surrealism and Lowbrow arts of many artists such as Coop, Frank Kozik, Todd Schorr, Rockin’ Jelly Bean, Gary Baseman, Liz Mcgrath, Cammile Rose Garcia、Kris Kuksi, Chet Zar, Luke Chueh and many more. He worked for KIDS which is a prototype-sculpture & mold company of Bandai of sofubi Div. for 5 years. After he left the company he started making jewelry and sculpture as an artist named Tokyo Jesus from 2009.  He started his artist activity in overseas from 2012.  Around 2014, he started to produce drawings, paintings and art toys as his art works. And now there are many collectors of his 2D and/or 3D works.

His arts are influenced by a great number of categories such as Nature, Philosophy, Ethnology, Theology, Science, Art, Ukiyoe, Music, Toys, Manga, Anime, Japanese pop and traditional cultures. His arts are also influenced by the artist of other categories listed above and his own life. Most of his themes included antithetical concepts like Science and Nature, “Sane and Insane”, “Hope and Fear”, “Life and Death”. Skulls and females as motifs are often used in his works to portray the themes. His sculpture style is mixed-media, using wax, magic sculpt, Zbrush, resin and more. His painting is super-flat style using acrylic or oil painting. Tokyo Jesus is a name of the world which exists in his mind. Tokyo Jesus is also a character of an artificial-life in the world, and Tokyo Jesus is used as his artist name, too.

He lives in Japan with his wife who is an artist of cute art and art-toy Eimi Takano.

Category: Behind the ScenesInterviews

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Article by: Andy

A Yellow guy with bad English who's a chef by trade but addicted to toys and art. Instagram nutter rambling food addict who likes to take photos of everything I eat (most Asians do right?) Please don't class me as a journalist or blogger, more on the lines of talent scout and always backs the little guy. Instagram ( BigToyPoo) (SushiKingUK) I am that one dickhead too.