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「CIRCLE OF DAYZ」 takes an in-depth look at people with strong ties to DAYZ and people who fascinate DAYZ. For the 13th installment, we interviewed NESM, a globally active graphic designer with graffiti roots. We asked him about his background and his thoughts on this solo exhibition.

―――What lead you to start making things?

NESM:From when I was young, I was quite influenced by foreign stuff like European soccer equipment and uniforms. Since elementary school, I have been fascinated by the materials, colors, designs, and the logos of overseas brands. Then in Junior High, my brother’s friend, who’d just come back from New York, let me watch “Wild Style” and “Beat Street”. I thought that if I could graffiti like that, it would be great, so I started doing drawing by imitating the stuff that I saw.

―――So you have been drawing since you were a youngster, right.

NESM:At that stage it was really just imitating. They weren’t pictures, because they were just designed objects that were overflowing with life, we incorporated information from overseas. I ordered and went through overseas magazines, and as a result became more interested in the U.S and Europe. Of course, Stuff from the U.S and Europe was completely different from what you would find in Japan. The logos and baseball goods in America are really cool. I was really impressed by European soccer products and logos.

―――I see. So in your teens and before when you were susceptible, you came into contact with these things and started drawing, right.

NESM:But during my teens I only drew or didn’t draw more than a few times a year. There wasn’t much in the way of input, and I didn't know anyone else who was doing it, so I just looked at videos, magazines, and books from overseas and somehow imitated them. Somehow my hands were just moving, I was just a kid that it had an impact on. While I was just repeating stuff that I saw, I was just taking stuff that I got from overseas. When I gradually started to really understand the culture surround it, I had the opportunity to go to a school in New York called SVA, as a graphic design major.

――― At that time how much were you drawing?

NESM:I was writing graffiti with KAWS and when his style changed, I felt that I wanted to put more effort into doing that. So KAWS introduced me to NACE, who would become my partner, and we decided to draw together, you see. He was super creative, the kind of guy that drew every week without fail. And that had an impact on me, and I went to draw most every week. Those days were tremendously fulfilling for me. After that I started doing graphic design in an office. Once I started in the office I would usually go out and do graffiti on weekends, right. That was a time when I got to know a lot of people, it was also about that time that I met Errolson from 〈ACRONYM〉. He saw my work and reached out to me through an acquaintance. 〈ACRONYM〉 was really growing, and they asked if I wouldn’t like to come do some graphics for them.

―――It’s because that is such an old connection that you are making things together, right.

NESM:〈ACRONYM〉has gradually become famous, when I went there for the first time in years, I was surprised that they had become a proper company. It is really an extraordinary relationship.

―――I think that this exhibition will be even more classical, what was the reasoning behind this timing?

NESM: There was a part of me that wanted to express myself using canvas. Up until now I have been working in a wide range of graphic designs. Things like page layouts and corporate logo designs. I’ve done a lot of client work. Somewhere in there I started to want to showcase myself a little.

―――What is the theme behind this exhibition?

NESM:Even if it's just one thing or line inside me, I still have a lot to learn from graffiti, so I want to express something that is unique to me.

Photo : Masataka Obayashi