MDLF: What is your name and where do you live?
MK: My name is Miyuki. I live in Tokyo, Japan
MDLF: We'd love to hear a bit about your background. What lead you to this place where you are now?
MK: I don’t know what exactly lead me to this place though I just know I’m now in the place I am supposed to be. I was born in a very rural area, a small village and never enjoyed my life when I was a kid. I always wanted to go out to a city like Tokyo, and when I was maybe 11year old, I started to feel like I wanted to go abroad to see and experience the life outside of Japan. I had never felt like I was at home, in that village.
So when I got in high school, I decided to become an exchange student and went to the high school in Georgia, U.S. for a year and that year made me grow so much.
After graduated University, I earned $10000 as working day and night (maybe I slept only 3-4hours a day for 3 months) to go to NY for studying graphic design. When one year passed, I realized NY is not the place for me and went back to Tokyo and somehow I joined an all-girl band and started to tour the world as the bass player for 5 years.
Before running “commune”, I’ve never thought about or wanted to run the gallery or never got into Art so much, but my friend, former owner of “commune” told me she wanted to quit this and was looking for someone who could take over “commune” and I just said “ I do” because that time I didn’t have a job and had plenty of time after leaving the band. Then I became the gallery manager and director.
MDLF: When did art first speak to you? Was there an artist, place, or memory?
MK: I’m not sure if art has ever spoken to me, but I just do remember that I loved drawing and painting, also doing calligraphy when I was a kid because I could just get into my own zone, enjoy the space and colors on paper or canvas, and feel the texture of the pencil and paper whenever I was doing those and didn’t have to worry about other things.
MDLF: What is Commune?
MK: We “commune” run small publishing label called “commune Press” and also does curating and organizing art shows to introduce undiscovered and promising artists to as many people as possible all around the world.
MDLF: When did Commune begin?
MK: I took over “commune” from my friend in the Spring of 2011.
MDLF: You started publishing artist's books & zines and producing merchandise. Can you share with us your creative process? How do you find the artist? What types of artists speak to the aesthetic and vibe of Commune?
I find the artists on instagram sometimes but now we have become good friends with several artists whom we worked with and they introduce their friends, great artists to me and so on.
I usually get a crush on the artists who are really into what they are in love with and what they are working on, like kind of nerd type maybe. I just always love to listen to what they are into at the moment.
MDLF: What are Mondays vs Saturday's like for you? Can you tell us about your day?
MK: To me, Mondays are more relaxing since “commune” opens the shop on Saturday and Sunday, so Saturday morning is usually busy for preparing to set and organize the shop.
I usually wake up around 8am and have a coffee and breakfast with my husband Shuichi. After Shuichi leaves home for work, I start e-mailing, mostly artists while doing housework. I like to eat lunch at home so usually go to commune shop/office after taking lunch in the afternoon and dispatching the orders from commune’s online store and doing other stuff.
Around evening I go back home and cook dinner and after dinner, I do some PC work, like designing new zines and merchandize with Shuichi till late night.
MDLF: How do you balance your everyday life doing the work as an art entrepreneur? (Yeah, we just gave you that title by the way, like it or not)
MK: I quit separating private and work. I did learn in the past a few years that what I do in my private time all connects to what I want to do for work. Music, books, movies, comics, traveling and even meeting and talking with people all connects with what I am working on.
MDLF: What was something you feel you truly worked very hard to achieve?
MK: Continuing to run an independent gallery(commune) for 5 years in Tokyo.
Do you have a specific artist that inspires you? Dead or alive. And why? Has this person influenced the way you apply yourself to art?
MK: I don’t really get any inspiration from the artists who don’t live on this age because I never meet them and I can’t get their real words in real time. I have been inspired and influenced by all the artists I’ve ever met and worked in my life.
MDLF: What is something you haven't done before, but would like to try?
MK: Probably giving a birth.
MDLF: What advice can you share with us?
MK: Live in your moment :) Anything good or bad happens now whenever, wherever you are. So just live as hard as you can.
MDLF: Do you have a favorite quote?
MK: “(Even if something bad happens) it’s not world’s end.” by my U.S. history teacher when I was exchange student in Georgia. He told me that words when I was crying in the classroom and felt hopeless because I hadn’t been able to get along with my homestay family and they tried to send me back to Japan. And when I got these words from my teacher, I felt at ease.
MDLF: What are your favorite three books?
MK: None specifically, but I like the books of Haruki Murakami and Torey Hayden.
MDLF: What does feminism mean to you?
MK: Encouraging all the women that they can do anything they wish.
MDLF: Would you consider yourself a feminist? Why or why not?
MK: Maybe not. I’m too lucky (?) that I’ve never felt “looked down” or “violated” or like I “can’t” because of that I’m a woman. But I support feminism but I cannot say that I am. I think I don’t have enough knowledge or experience to say that.
MDLF: What are any current social or political issues in Japan that are concerning to you?
MK: Getting too domestic, especially the young generation. We say Galapagosization. That has been an issue recently. They don’t listen to foreign music, watch oversea movies, get any interest in foreign culture and never go outside of Japan. It’s comfortable to stay in Japan for them and just keep up the things only around them.
MDLF: Would you do something in your work to help change that? If so, how?
MK: Through the activities of “commune” and the shop, we’ve kept introducing foreign artists as well as Japanese artists and showing and selling the zines and books that I found outside of Japan. It will let young people have a chance to see the things NOT of/from Japan so that they can realize that Japanese culture is not only made in Japan, is actually made in the world.
MDLF: What's on the road-map for you and Commune?
MK: We are planning to re-open the gallery near future:)
MDLF: For those who want to come out and visit, where are the first three places we should absolutely check out first?
- Shop commune :)
- Shake Kojima (Salmon restaurant / Japanese drinking bar )
- Uobei (Sushi Train)
I think the Japanese are especially proud of our food culture.