The OTAKU project visits Iceland to colour it
Iceland and Japan, two insular nations known for their creative prowess, were reunited for a few days this February as the OTAKU Project members demonstrated their skills in the capital. The colourful invasion was coordinated by hair designer Yoshihiro Mitsumori, makeup artist Yui Koretomo, photographer Sayaka Bono and their assistant Yumi Seki. The squad presented a workshop at Tækniskólinn and did hair and make-up for Sónar Reykjavík performers Kiriyama Family, Berndsen and Vök. They also prepped Olèna at Rauðhetta & Úlfurinn for her gig with Asonat at an OTAKU guerrilla hair arrangement at 12 Tónar on Skólavörðustígur. On top of that, they had the time to collaborate with actress Árný Fjóla and Daði from RetRoBot. We asked them to tell us about their experience in Reykjavík.
First of all, let us know who you are and what Otaku is about.
Yoshihiro Mitsumori: I serve as the project head, which is made of a variety of artists, including hair designers, make up artists, photographers, stylists and graphic designers. Our only requirement is to challenge our creative activities. As Japanese professionals, we decided to name our team OTAKU to emphasize our artistic evolution as the term refers nowadays to people with creativity, passion and professionalism.
How did you get into hair styling/make-up artistry? What are your favourite techniques?
YM: I’ve always been interested in creating and I like to make people happy with my art. Talking to customer at my salon is also fascinating. I mostly cut hair, but when the occasion calls for it, I use some unique tools. For example, when we visited Tækniskólinn, I decided to use some colour sprays as I felt that simple hair arrangements would not have much impact on the students. I believe that flexibility is a very important skill for OTAKUs.
How do you develop your own specific aesthetic? Do you work around what the person gives you and then enhance existing details or do you impose a preconceived vision?
YM: My passion is to design people’s hairstyle and the most important thing is to make my clients happy, which is how my aesthetic gets through. To do so, I try to effectively to enhance what a person has.
Sayaka Bono: I’ve always been enchanted by the vision of the world a photo can generate. I love to capture a moment of happiness. I’m always eager to learn, be active, communicate with the people I’m working with and I try to be grounded. When I have a photo shoot, I prepare myself according to what is expected of me. I try to enhance a model’s features, as I think that each person’s characteristics are a piece of art.
Yui Koretomo: My aesthetic has been shaped by the people I’ve encountered and various experiments.
How has “Enrich The World With Hair In Iceland” challenged you and pushed forward in your creative process?
YM: With “Enrich The World With Hair,” we try to bring happiness and joy to the people we encounter. Sometimes we don’t know much about a culture, which is why it’s important to be receptive to people’s expectations and unique characteristics: we grow from that experience. Every project we do is unique and grounded in the place we are at. The experiences we had in Iceland definitely affect our performances, but it’s something we subconsciously express.
SB: Icelandic artist’s beauty resides in their relationship with nature, which generates new energy and they release it through their music. It was a new cultural experience that significantly inspired my body and soul and that will influence my future performances. Iceland is marvellous.
YK: I was moved by the nature, energy and people’s kindness. It’s the best country I have ever visited.
What were the motivations behind the body painting you created for musicians at Sónar Reykjavík? What power does your art have on the performers and the crowd?
YM: During our collaboration with Icelandic musicians, our idea for body painting was formed through discussions with them. I am not sure what kind of power our art has on them, but we always wish to enhance their happiness. I hope we achieved that goal. Our performances in extraordinary circumstances may open new perspectives to our models and help them find their ‘new me.’