Yoshifumi Nomura x PUMA LoveJoy Project

  • DESIGNED BY: Yoshifumi Nomura
  • MADE ON: --/12

For the third installment in the PUMA LoveJoy Project, Yoshifumi Nomura presents his symbolic shirt design and sits down with us to explain his artistic decisions.

Hey Yoshifumi, thanks for taking the time. Can you start by telling us your background and artist story?

My names is Yoshifumi Nomura, or better known as Yoshi47. I was born in 1981 in Gifu Prefecture, Japan. At the age of twenty, I moved to California to pursue an art career. I was also a break dancer (b-boy) and performing at clubs and on the street. I started practicing graffiti at the same time. It was fun, but now I’ve found a more important purpose for painting than just fun.

I spent four years in the Bay Area doing live painting and participating in both solo exhibitions and art events. While living in San Francisco, I discovered a small group of avid bicyclists and became a bike messenger. It was through my experience as a courier that I found my essence of life and the conceptual basis for my art.

In 2006, I returned to Japan. Initially I lived in Tokyo, where I continued to work as a messenger and became involved in the bicycle industry between Japan and the US. I eventually relocated to Kariya City for two and a half years to focus on my artistic and business endeavors. In 2010, I spent eight months in Tochigi before returning to Tokyo, where I’m currently based. I’m involved in art curation, art direction, graphic design, collaborative projects, and I continue to exhibit my artworks worldwide.

What a cool story, with a lot of street exposure it seems. Now, after all that background, how would you describe your evolved art style?

It has a characteristic of darkness, and often people say it’s cute but scary at the same time and it’s my intention to have this effect. People here in Japan call me as a street artist, but I don’t really care about labels. I do what I would do.

As you should. As for your own individuality, how would you describe your fashion style?

My fashion style? Hmmm, I prefer simple things around me like plain t-shirts (no logo or anything), jeans, and clean shoes at least. I used to wear all black when I went out at night to go bombing and shit, but now I don’t dress like that since I’m getting more mature.

[both laugh]

When I go out with my wife to a party, I’m wearing something nice, casual style, even expensive. Actually, I feel like I live in two different worlds.

I think some of us can relate to that, we all have different parts of our lives we might dress for. What are some of your major inspirations in life?

First, bicycle messengers absolutely. We’re not volunteering to a war or any kind of battles, but we face ‘life and death’ situations all the time. That inspires me so much more than just living for fun. I still have the heart of riding as a messenger like I did before and still I have so many friends out there doing it too.

Second, the concepts of being a soldier and the idea of warfare our inspirations for me, even though I’m not a solider nor have I ever been to any war zones. In fact, I know myself that I’m against any kinds of war, but somehow when I watch a movie and when I talk to a returned soldier and hear their story I get inspired a lot. Probably I’ve been seeking to have some extreme life experience ever since I was a little boy. I remembered that I asked my family if I was able to be a soldier in Japan or in the US, but they had told me that if I became one I could never return home.

Third, my wife and my doggy. I love my family. This is a major thing in my life.

Certainly, those are some great places to draw inspiration from. How do you feel about the PUMA brand – besides your work with them?

Funny enough, I didn’t wear or even have any PUMA products in my life so far. However, I started wearing it because I don’t see a lot of people have that on the street or anywhere. People love trendy clothing and I understand that, but I’m the one who goes to the opposite side and tries to wear something special. However, I only wear something simple and classic. Not colorful pieces or anything futuristic. I just think those styles are not me. Also, PUMA is an animal, and I like that.

Haha, the German beast! So how did you get the job with PUMA?

A lady who is the PR manager in PUMA, Japan was a friend of mine for a long time and I think that is at least one of the reasons. We’ll do more collabo later on.

And your shirt design, what does this mean? How did you create it?

When I had a meeting with PUMA, they asked me one thing only which was about the London Olympics. However I was not able to say or write any related words or even logos connecting to this topic. So, I needed to think about something obscure but at the same time the illustration was supposed to be something about the London Olympics. I used a PUMA red color to mimic England’s red cross flag color, and I created my monster as an emblem of London. There are five wheels around and that goes to symbolize the five Olympic rings. More over, in Japanese, we call the Olympics by the term ‘gorin’, and ‘go’ means ‘five’, and ‘rin’ means ‘wheel or ring’. Do you get what I’m trying to say?

Yeah, we follow you Yoshi!

So basically, I tried to imply the idea of the Olympics without using letters. Five wheels means Olympics in Japanese.

Well it came out quite interesting indeed, and definitely not too blunt. Now that the project is over, what’s next for you?

I’m planning to move to somewhere in Europe, or in the United States again. Since my wife is an American and we both know that there could be a more idealistic art world in the US or Europe where we would be able to discover and explore things we cannot find here in Tokyo. Art scenes have just started here in Tokyo and I would love to be a part of a huge history here. However, I do not feel really content somehow. Anyway, Tokyo is not enough for me anymore and it’s time to move on to somewhere I have never been.

We wish you the best of luck with that move then Yoshi! Lastly, do you have anything to say to our readers?

If you’re in a position to decide anything you want in your company or if you own your own company even, please hire a messenger for your special deliveries. They’re super fast like road runners and protect your packages like 007. Hire them and you will put less pollution into the air. Support your local heroes!

Haha, fantastic. You heard the man; get your critical parcels pushed by cyclists if you care! As for those of you who simply care to learn more about Yoshi47, you can hit him up on his website, and follow him on Twitter or Facebook or Instagram.

written by Dylan Cromwell