Takashi Murakami collaborator, MR. is well-regarded for his illustrative, anime-inspired paintings and cartoonish sculptures. However, the Saitama-based creative resents the cutesy label often slapped upon his work. “From when I was around 13, my family had a rough time,” he admits. “Like with my older brother’s domestic violence.” The effect this turbulent upbringing had on MR.’s work is striking, considering the saccharine sweet designs that he often subverts with aggressive paint splashes and brush slashes.
As a teenager, he was obsessed with manga, video games & anime and was subsequently tagged as an “otaku,” a subset of Japanese culture primarily made up of young males who forfeit social skills for personal pastimes. “When I was a teenager, I thought ‘otaku’ was something embarrassing,” says MR. “I was embarrassed … that I was an otaku.” Eventually, however, “I started thinking that embarrassment could be a weapon … it is interesting to let that embarrassment [explode].” We head inside the artist’s humble studio to witness that explosion as MR. fabricates his signature cartoon-indebted creations by means of paint and pencil.