There is a group of up-and-coming young artists in the Tohoku prefectures whose activities remain largely unknown nationwide. “Cyg art gallery” in the center of Morioka is the top spot for appreciating local art. These are the words of the gallery’s proprietor, Shinsuke Shimizu.
“At one time, this city’s consumption of paints was the highest per capita in the country. This high awareness of art was put in place by our ancestors, and we are keen to build on that momentum. This relies on showcasing the hidden talents of young local artists and nurturing people who can transform the town through art and design.”
The gallery is packed with unique drawings and zines by artists from the six Tohoku prefectures. There is no doubt that a venue like this is a creative melting pot for artists. Meanwhile, it provides a valuable space for local people to come in contact with art from around the Tohoku region.
Born in Iwate, Shimizu studied art and design at Iwate University and graduate school, then worked in Tokyo and Mie before returning to Iwate in 2010. Since then, he has run a design business called “homesickdesign” while also managing the gallery.
“I’ve realized that when I worked in Tokyo and Mie, I didn’t understand how good my own backyard was. When I was thinking of starting something, I felt that I wanted to make it happen in an attractive town, so why not go back to Morioka? There aren’t many companies in Tohoku singularly devoted to design and art activities. I thought, “If that’s the case, I have a blank canvas to do whatever I want.”
In addition to designing posters, logos, packages, and websites, the company also operates a gallery and is involved in education activities including teaching at a design school in the city. The main thrust is to harness design to find solutions to the large and small issues that exist in society. Today, they are known as one of the top design groups active in the entire Tohoku region.
“Morioka is a city with high cultural literacy, boasting various spots to enjoy music, cozy coffee shops and cafes, theaters to enjoy plays, and used record stores. Yet when I was young, I failed to notice these interesting aspects. These days I feel inspired to give something back to society through the power of design, while enjoying all that this cool city has to offer”.
Homesickdesign’s activities try to strike a balance between embracing new sensibilities while retaining good old-fashioned culture. It will be very interesting to see what kind of impact their effervescent spirit has on the city.