japanese b-girl in new york city


shiro is one of our fav street artists at powder. her murals are a prominent feature on new york city walls, where she's been making an impact for some years now. but her bold, vibrant b-girls and hip hop graphics can be found sprayed across walls in japan, where she originally hails from. inspired by the graffiti she first saw in the background of a video, shiro started in ninety eight in shizuoka. back then, she couldn't even source actual spray paint cans and had to make her own tools out of hairspray and mosquito spray containers. these days it’s a different story, as she's taking her street art round the globe.
interview with paul gregoire i.t.a.

we so love your street art at powder, shiro. it's simply amaze to get the chance to catch up with you...

Thank you for loving my art and choosing me for this interview of powder.

so you've been travelling between your home in japan and new york city for some time now and have made quite a name for yourself in the nyc street art scene. what initially prompted you to take on new york and how's the ride been so far?

The movie Wild style made me decide to come to NY. I feel like I become one of the movie characters when I come and do my art in NY. I live in NY with my artist visa now, but it's not easy. lol. But it's exciting.

and who are your favourite artists working the new york streets now? who should we keep an eye out for?

There are so many of great artist not only in NY, but also all over the world. So many artists’ work attracts me so I try not to pay too much attention to them because I wanna keep my own style. I love going to check art shows and hang out, though… I wanna be myself. So I pay attention to inside myself more than anybody's artwork.

your murals are filled with hot popping b-girls, aerosol cans and hip hop imagery... where does your inspiration come from? and just who is mimi?

I think MIMI is my other self. I get inspiration from everything, but mostly it comes from inside myself. Before I paint or draw, I ask myself what kind of emotion I want to express through my character and I talk with her (sometimes him)… like who she is, what she’s thinking, how she is feeling, if she is angry or happy and why etc etc... I like it.

you work out on the street. what are the advantages of doing so? do you prefer the streets to the studio? and what do you think the public gains from street art?

For me, painting in the streets is like a big chess game. It's exciting to travel and put my chessmen in the world. Some get deleted in a few days, but some stay there for many years after I have left. Then people in the communities keep living there with my mural. People sometimes show me my old murals sending flix via SNS and let me know my mural still exists there. I've travelled to the USA, and countries in Europe, Oceania, Asia so far and I will travel more. My chessboard is this planet. Isn't it exciting? I can't do this in the studio.

being out there on the streets at night have you ever come into any dangerous situations

When I was an English language school student in NY from 2002 to 2004, I didn't have any graffiti friends. I had some bad experiences at that time when I was painting in the streets alone.

Like sticking up, getting scared by crazy people...

I wanted to stop painting and go back to Japan when I got those bad experiences. But now I have many friends so I'm OK.

over the past years, you've begun exhibiting in gallery shows, both solo and group. how have they've been going? which have been the most memorable? and how do you like the gallery compared to the streets?

The most memorable show was my first solo show at Bakery (graffiti store) in the Bronx in 2010. I was struggling from a bad situation in my private life, so making canvases for this show was depressing. But so many good people came to my show and even Afrika Bambaataa came to show support for me. I was very happy and thought that I shouldn't stop painting even when any bad thing happens to me.

and as hip hop culture has such a big influence on you, just which style does it for you?

I love old skool hip hop. Peace, Unity, Love and Having Fun (^-^)

we've been checking out your funky fresh clothing label BJ46. how'd that all come about?

I love fashion too. So I started to make my own clothes. I love sewing, crocheting too. I want to have my own boutique one day in the future.

when you're in japan you work as a nurse. how does that fit in with the street art?

Through my job as a nurse, I have seen so many patients struggle and die, everyone is alone, no matter how much money or how much fame we have, when we pass away. It makes me get busy because I don't wanna regret. I just wanna keep going till my life shuts down.

what's the street art scene like in japan? does it have an impact like the nyc scene?

I live in countryside in Japan. People are kinda strict and conservative but they look like they are getting use to and loving my sensational art recently. lol

and what have you been working on of late shiro? what do you have coming up further into twenty fifteen?

I'm not sure. I just go with the flow. I don't even know which country I will be in October of 2015. lol. But seriously.

it's been so good to finally get to chat with you shiro. we're looking forward to the next time we spy one of those gorgeous b-girls sprayed upon a wall. sayonara.

Arigatou! xoxo


check out the shiro site

blog shiro bj46

like facebook.com/ShiroBJ46