Interview with the Artist
How did you feel when you were asked to design these models for the Seven Lucky Gods?
It’s been over a year since we started talking about it. At the time I resolved to pursue it as a major challenge, of a kind that I had never faced before. At the same time, when it was coming together, I saw it as an opportunity that would allow me to grow as an artist, as well as one that would make a new contribution to the kinds of culture that G-SHOCK supports, like skateboarding. These were things that I was really excited about.
Were you aware of the presence of the Seven Gods of Fortune throughout your daily life?
If you live in Japan, you have customs like visiting sites for the Seven Lucky Gods around New Year’s Day and at other times, so of course I was aware the practice of going to shrines to receive blessings. Even though the gods other than Ebisu originate from the cultures of other places like India and China, the people of Japan accepted and interpreted them in ways that would benefit their daily lives. I think that this forward-looking adaptation is a quality that we have held on to from long ago, and is a unique characteristic of the Japanese people. So I tried to be cognizant of these things and incorporate them into the designs for this project.
What were you careful of in your depictions of the Seven Lucky Gods?
I thought that taking an object of faith and incorporating it into a design would be an incredibly high hurdle to overcome, so that drove me to really dig down and study the subject matter even further. When working on these designs, I also wanted to generate interest among young people and inspire them to learn even more about the Seven Lucky Gods. I thought about what the best way to accomplish this would be, and furthermore, I researched the gods in my own way (because I would be the one expressing them), and worked to make the Seven Lucky Gods a part of me through visits to shrines and other locations before creating the designs.
It’s been said that historically, that people around the world ask more of the gods when times are hard, and that this is what elevates the popularity of some gods. What do you feel is the role of the gods in our present era?
This is just my personal opinion, but I believe that religion and faith exist essentially to be there to help during times when people experience hardship, and things become the subjects of worship because those who are living seek help from them in this way. Even in the present day, religion and faith can serve as a point of reference when we are concerned with how we want to lead our lives and how to stand and face the challenges that confront us. We can say the same thing about the qualities and blessings of the Seven Lucky Gods.
We might say that they are condensations of the customs and wisdom of our ancestors that have been passed down for many years.
The interpretation of the Seven Lucky Gods in Japan is different in many respects from the qualities of the gods as they are known in their countries of origin. I believe that this is because, at the time that these gods became objects of faith in Japan, they underwent changes gradually due to the things that the people were asking of them. As the forms of the gods as they are depicted in Japan drift significantly from the gods as they were originally, I believe there are many aspects in which we can say that they have uniquely evolved.
How, specifically, did you express the Seven Lucky Gods in these designs?
The first thing is that I took care not to show the gods directly on the watches themselves. But I was also careful to make sure that the design of the watches created an atmosphere reminiscent of the various gods in question. For the art on the packaging, I incorporated seven cultural elements associated with G-SHOCK, such as active sports, DJing, and dance, alongside images of the Seven Gods of Fortune. I also had children appear in the pictures, because I wanted to compose scenes where the gods appeared to pleasantly watch over children enjoying themselves. I worked to make all seven watch designs consistent around a style that used methods similar to Japanese woodblock prints.
Toshikazu Nozaka is from Tokyo. He has been devoted to building plastic models and art objects, painting, and skateboarding from a young age, and was a professional skateboarder in his teens and 20s. He is currently engaged in activities both in Japan and in other countries as an artist and skateboarder. His works are featured in both solo and group exhibitions annually, and he provides artwork for use in a variety of fields. Within the foundation of his works are a respect and admiration for Japanese painters who were active from the end of the Edo period through the Meiji period, and his daily goal of pondering what can be created in the modern era from these influences.