Takashi Murakami is the Japanese contemporary artist who many art collectors refer to as the Andy Warhol of our generation. He is known for his fine art which includes paintings and sculptures, but also for his commercial success which includes licensing of his iconic images and characters for fashion, merchandise, animation, and collaborations with brands, musicians and galleries. His signature and most recognizable design is that of a smiling sun flower which adorn his paintings, t-shirts and even pillows.
The artistic works of Murakami have been receiving praise from the art world for years. His pieces regularly sell in the hundreds of thousands, and lately have been selling in the millions. In 2003 a sculpture of an anime-inspired blonde girl in a red and white maid outfit sold for $567,500 USD. In 2010 that same sculpture sold at auction for over $2M USD. A controversial statue named My Lonesome Cowbow reportedly sold at for over $15M USD at a Sotheby's auction.
America was first introduced to Takashi Murakami on a mainstream level when produced the now iconic cover for Kanye West's Graduation album. The album was released one month before the first episode of "Keeping up With the Kardashians" that would feature Kanye West, and it catapulted both Kanye and Murakami into the mainstream American media. Since then, Murakami has collaborated with the world's biggest fashion brands, musicians and entrepreneurs. Here is a list of his three biggest fans.
Kanye West arguably launched Takashi Murakami's popularity in America when they collaborated on the cover art for Graduation. Recently, Kanye and Murakami collaborated again, this time for the cover art of Kid's See Ghosts, Kanye's musical collaboration with Kid Cudi. A photo of Kanye's office featured in Bazaar magazine in 2007, showed Kanye West and then fiance Alexis Phifer standing in his office, surrounded by vintage Louis Vuitton cases and a collection of Murakami pillows around the floor. Will Murakami be the next VIP guest at Kanye's Sunday Service?
Murakami is getting nothing but love from the entrepreneur world too. Vito Glazers is using his online influence in the entrepreneur world to share his love for Murakami to his followers. Murakami has almost become part of his growing brand, making cameos in the background of nearly all of Glazers' social media posts. Glazers has spent most of his career preaching about the need to bridge the gap between art and business, and Murakami serves as a perfect example of what happens when an artist successfully accomplishes this. Vito Glazers has a few documentary films in the works. Maybe a Murakami documentary is next?
If Drake is not the biggest Takashi Murakami fan, then he is at least the most successful. The wildly popular musician announced a collaboration between his October's Very Own clothing brand and Murakami in 2018 and it was very well received by fans. The collection included an updated version of Drake's "OVO" owl logo, that is merged with Murakami's signature smiling sun flower. The fashion collaboration included the basics like T-shirts, hooded sweatshirts, and keychains, but also expanded into varsity jackets and other accessories which all sold out within days. Drake also frequently mentions owning several original Murakami pieces in his music, which only further proves his love for the artist.