Creativity Days in Kaunas {July 18-20} Mindfulness + arts & crafts + brands = ✨ Join us 🙌

Talk on Creativity with Sebastian Masuda, known as the ‘King of Kawaii’

Very excited to share with you a talk on creativity with Sebastian Masuda, a Japanese artist known as the ‘King of Kawaii.’ The term ‘kawaii’ translates to ‘cute’ or ‘adorable.’ As an aesthetic style, it encompasses Japanese pop culture, and as a philosophy, it encourages people to reflect on what’s unique about themselves and contemplate how to navigate the social and personal challenges of the future.

This post has an audio story too. Catch a breeze:

Read the transcript

Egle:

So I would love to learn about Kawaii aesthetics, which we all love. It’s so colorful and so imaginative and creative.

So would you mind telling a little bit about what is Kawaii for you?

Sebastian Masuda:

To me, Kawai is like my little world inside of me, A little world, a little microcosm, which does not hinder other people’s lives and does not intrude into other people’s microcosms and other people’s inner homes, let’s say. So this is something that I have inside of myself.

Egle:

Beautiful. And I’ve noticed that you work across different disciplines and different media, and is there anything that’s, and you like mixing them, right? You did present your fashion collection with the Lithuanian dancers. So do you have any favorite media that is really kind of very dear to your heart or you love experimenting with all of them equally?

Sebastian Masuda:

So as a means of expression, the media I like most is to organize live performance because I used to work with theater performances before. So this is my favorite means of expression.

Egle:

Beautiful. And pink color is a very major part of the Kawaii aesthetic. What is that the meaning of pink color in the context of Kawaii, but also for you personally?

Sebastian Masuda:

There are different shades of pink, different types of pink. It is not only gentle pink, but it could be also wild or even violent pink. So in the beginning I used to use this a little bit sharper pink. So because it expresses different, because of this variety of pink, that it can express different ideas. Pink is an important part of Kawaii fashion. And for myself, well black and white, also very important colors, but pink is also a color which is full of expression.

Egle:

So in the aesthetic, which is so rich in imagination and a lot of characters and a lot of fairytale, almost life, how do you as a creator communicate your vision to your team and to your people and how much you are involved in the process of making that happen?

Sebastian Masuda:

So actually I do not convey some visual in the start because I start from the idea, from the message I want to convey to people, and I verbalize this message, I write, it’s just on the paper, and this is a way I express my idea at the start, and then the visual comes after.

Egle:

Interesting. So great, love it. There’s meaning in everything that comes out then. And then what’s the process from the visual? Do you sketch ideas or is the team already kind of on board of what characters and elements can be part of that? What’s the process for that visual part?

Sebastian Masuda:

In my studio, I have materials which are gathered from all over the world. There are really different types of materials that I use for my art, and when I express my idea, my message, the staff pick up suitable materials for that. But still, of course at the end, my own idea is, and my own vision is very important.

Egle:

So you mostly work in the studio physically with people close by or you also work remotely with people virtually or it’s more like physical space where the interaction happens?

Sebastian Masuda:

Earlier I used to work physically in the studio in Tokyo with the staff, but afterwards I moved to New York and I started working remotely also. And the process is that the staff can pick up materials and send pictures or write emails and we discuss what is suitable. But also I come back to Tokyo three times a year and we can do the arrangements physically at that time. The final arrangements. Yeah.

Egle:

So what is the cuteness for you?

Sebastian Masuda:

The cutest thing is to feel happy. And I like colorful, I like different colors. So this is something that makes me happy and this happiness is cuteness for me.

Egle:

Wonderful. And that’s contagious? Yes. Bloomerang game also has a lot of colors and every time we kind of go somewhere and settle down, we feel a lot of people start getting those colors in their life as well. So I’m very happy to have met you, to feel like I’m not alone. I’ve heard you are currently working on a restaurant in Paris, right? Could you share a little bit more about the idea behind it and what can people expect once come?

Sebastian Masuda:

I do art, but art is only one part of my activities, one part of my life. And art you can only see in a gallery or somewhere. So it’s only, it’s not enough. I feel it is not enough. So by producing, establishing a restaurant, I can join other also spheres that I’m interested in. So people can enjoy art and they can enjoy communication, they can eat. So everything comes together. There is this kind of triangle. So this is the main idea of creating a restaurant. I’m not interested in simply creating a restaurant. I understand I want to express this art and to have people enjoying it while eating.

Egle:

Great. And of course, French love, Japanese culture, and Paris, there’s Japanese community so big. So I’m sure you’ll have a lot of success and we wish you all the best with that. So if we may come back a little bit to your process. So knowing also from my own experience that when we have a lot of ideas, yes we know what we want to express, but then that visual element can be sort of crazy in our head. How do you balance freedom and creativity and structure to make things happen and bring out into the world?

Sebastian Masuda:

Actually, I always work with the same concept. Only the output is different. So it might be a museum, it might be a restaurant, it might be clothes, fashion, but the main idea is the same, the concept is the same. So I don’t think it is difficult to put it into structure.

Egle:

I see. Okay. Great. Wonderful. So is there any other format of expression that you haven’t tried that yet that you would love to experiment with and try out in the future?

Sebastian Masuda:

I think I have tried really all possible formats because I did museums, fashion, art, direction. I did musical video creation and direction. Really different kinds of formats, different kinds of media I have already tried. But what I’m really interested in right now is to use those media in Europe. Because in Europe I would like to, for example, to make a big exhibition in some famous museum maybe, and maybe to become a director of some famous singer or artist or to create a theme park in Europe. So basically I’m now interested in how to use maybe the same media, but in Europe.

Egle:

In a different market with different people and see how they respond. Right? Yeah. I think here, well, especially Lithuania, the dominating colors are like black, gray or white. So I think for people to see that, the vibe that we get, I think it’s that sort of freedom and unleashing yourself and being more courageous to experiment with other things. So I would be very interested to see how other countries in Europe will react to your aesthetic. So I think there needs to be more liberation in self-expression.

So one last question. What would you advise for a young creator, young designer, just starting out who loves colors and is keen to explore the world and create something? Is there one tip that you would give?

Sebastian Masuda:

My main advice to a young artist would be to believe in what you are doing and never give up. It can take one, two, or 10 years, but never give up your idea and believe in yourself. And finally, it’ll become true. The dream will come true. So this is my maybe most important advice.