The Art of Being Choco Moo – Interview & Live Painting in Tokyo
Choco Moo is everywhere. From her high profile collaborations with Japanese fashion brands and musicians (including Kyary Pamyu Pamyu) to praise from top K-Pop groups to magazine appearances and recent gallery shows in Tokyo, Los Angeles, and New York, Choco Moo’s popularity has exploded. But success hasn’t come overnight for this hard-working Japanese artist. Choco Moo has been drawing since she was a small child. In her own words, “Art is my life!”.
Despite her red-hot popularity, Choco Moo remains committed to her underground roots. As an independent self-managed female artist, she’s a rarity in the Japanese entertainment industry. Her influential visual style, mysterious name, and independent punk attitude motivated us to track her down and find out – who is Choco Moo?
Choco Moo – whose real name is Yuka – is from the history-rich Japanese city of Kyoto. The story of her nom de plume involves Spike Lee, a chocolate drink, and a trip to New York (check the video below for the full scoop). Choco Moo lists music, fashion, and traditional Japanese culture (specifically calligraphy, which she studied as a child) as the major influences on her art. All of her work is done in black and white, and her style is unmistakable.
Tokyo street fashion fans will instantly recognize her beyond-popular tights collection from Mam Avantgarde. Worn by Juria and other top Japanese street fashion icons, the tights even ended up in a recent Girls Generation Music video. In addition to her work with AvantGarde Harajuku, Choco Moo has designed tour goods for Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, collaborated with Milkfed, Ravijour, Override, and other brands, as well as illustrating the interior of the new Spinns 02 Harajuku store. Her biggest fashion collaboration yet will be released later this month – the much-anticipated Choco Moo x Joyrich collection.
Choco Moo’s relationship with musicians includes music video and fashion illustration for Japanese groups CREAM, Ai, AmiAya, and Kyary – as well as top-secret high profile projects to be released in the near future. She’s also either worked on projects with or been praised by many top groups in the K-pop scene, including SNSD, 2NE1, and Super Junior. American rapper Kreayshawn is also a big fan. Choco Moo also live paints at music events in Tokyo, including this year’s Kawaii Matsuri with Kyary Pamyu Pamyu and Dempa Gumi.
In addition to her impressive – and quickly growing – body of work, one of the things that Choco Moo is well known for here in Tokyo is her live painting events. Whether working on a fan’s iPhone cover or a massive shop wall, she starts with a white space and a black pen and draws non-stop until it’s a beautiful work of art. Watching her in action, it often appears that there’s no way all of the different elements will come together in the end. But somehow – through her unique vision – it always does. We’ve seen Choco Moo live paint many times, and it’s always a treat!
If you’re anywhere near New York or Los Angeles, you can meet Choco Moo and see her art in person later this month. Her Los Angeles show is on May 11th (details on Facebook) and her New York event is on May 16th (details on Instagram). In the meantime, please check out our video below, featuring lots of Choco Moo live painting and an exclusive interview with the artist.
Choco Moo – Live Painting & Interview Video
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Choco Moo Pictures
Click on any of the Choco Moo photos to enlarge them.
Thank you to Choco Moo for inviting us to her events, as well as sitting down and talking to us for the interview.
If you’d like to know more about Choco Moo, please check out her official websites:
Photos by Kira & Daishi.
About the photographer:
Born in Japan, educated in Japan and the US, Kira shoots exclusively with Canon DSLRs. Photography assignments include fashion, bands, sporting events, and portraiture for various companies and bands throughout Japan & the world. His portfolio can be viewed at Artist-Photo.
About the photographer:
Daishi Hamada is a Japanese photographer and musician who specializes in band photography in Tokyo. You can find out more about him and see more of his work at his official website.