Interview 2: Kaji

What changes can you expect from experiencing an Esin workshop? Masatatsu Kajikawa took part in the Tokyo workshop in February 2015 and shares his thoughts.
“I want to create something that every human being can enjoy regardless of their race and culture.”

Why did you participate in the workshop?

I’m a fan of Tomato so I was very excited to join the workshop. Where do they find their ideas for their wonderful work? What’s the secret of their process? These are the things I wanted to find out. Although I have regular work that I can complete without feeling challenged, sooner or later, I know that is going to change. When that time comes, I need to be able to create something of my own and I want to be ready. I’m the third generation of a family-owned ironwork studio. One of the reasons I decided to participate was to learn new skills for my work as a craftman.

How do you define ideal creative work?

When I look at a painting, I don’t care where the painter is from, or their background. No matter what the genre, I think the most important thing for an artwork is whether it can interest people or not. I want to create something that every human being can enjoy regardless of their race and culture. The people of Heian period (794-1185) in Japan used the word “O-KA-SHI” to describe something interesting. That word has deeper and more complex meaning than just “interesting”. In my opinion, that’s ideal creative work. It needs to be something crazy that would make other creatives shout; “Amazing!”

How was the workshop?

At first, I felt I was put in a difficult situation because I discovered that most of the other participants had a formal art education. But I was encouraged to see that the tomato members were normal people, like me, sweating and struggling to create. It felt as if they pulled me up from the auditorium and allowed me to stand on the same stage as they do. The workshop was like an endless defensive baseball practice, where the subject was art and included some exercises where I didn’t understand why I was being asked to do them. I’m glad I made it to the end, and was pleased to be a part of a top creators’ network. I learned that people have different interests and that what is interesting for me may be not interesting for others, and that’s perfectly fine.

“The workshop was an eye-opener, and gave me the confidence to do anything I want to do. It gave me the confience to have my own style.”

How’s your life after the workshop?

I’m working hard. It’s fun and exciting. I recently opened a shared workspace in a residential area. It’s an office space but can be used for events. The workshop was an eye-opener, and gave me the confidence to do anything I want to do, and everything I can do. It gave me the confidence to have my own style. If I was to judge myself, I’m still at a low level, probably level 2, but I’m confident enough not to be ashamed of myself. I find myself talking to young people and telling them not to be afraid of failure.

Which advice left the strongest impression on you?

I was truly encouraged by something Toru (Yoshikawa – Creative Leader) said; “it’s ok to be selfish.” It’s a state of mind in which you care less about fame and criticism, and break the restraints on your thinking. I was afraid of being an outsider by ignoring industry standards and the basics your learn at school. But I realized that’s pointless. For those who don’t have a fixed idea of what’s good or bad, the workshop is a great place where you can be free from rules.  What’s amazing about Toru is that he knows all the above and still retains his style that fits with the reality of the market. If I was to have another chance, I’d like to learn more from him.

Esin workshop in one word?

Redemption. It’s where art and creativity awake. If I describe myself, that is me after the workshop, in one word, I would say “free”. I used to be too afraid of what other people would say about the products and artwork I made. I was far from free. But now I’m free enough to argue with other project members. I guess it’s because I’m more confident with what I make.

“it’s ok to be selfish.”
Kajikawa specializes in steelwork. His family-owned factory, Kajikawa Steel Works, has been in business for over 65 years. He recently launched “WAAC”, a communication space for makers in general, in Obu, Aichi, Japan.