I once asked Ken how he shaves his moustache so incredibly perfectly. (It’s perfect. Trust me: You have never seen more immaculate facial hair EVER.) He just looked at me and said, “Oh I don’t shave it. I pluck it.”
My bunny, Kiki Shobun, is Ken’s BFF. Whenever I’m on tour or out of town for any length of time, Kiki goes to Uncle Ken’s house and you would not imagine the adventures they have together. Although I always miss Kiki when I’m away, I look forward Ken’s updates letting me know how they’re spending their time: he builds her beautiful playhouses and habitats, he once constructed a tiny, bunny-sized book, and thanks to Ken, Kiki now has a profound love of David Lynch films.
The best thing about collaborating with Ken is that he always interprets my ideas in ways I would never imagine. I am obsessed with cute things, as is Ken; but his representation of cuteness always comes with an edge which ensure that the visuals he creates are never sickly the way North American “cuteness” can appear childish. Ken’s designs are instead “child-like” and sweet, but always retain that element of darkness or the threat of fear
lurking somewhere close, like the monster in our closet. Here’s my new website design by Ken Ogawa.
To say that Ken is quiet is an understatement, and yet people often mistake this taciturnity for shyness. It’s taken me years to see that Ken isn’t shy, it’s just that he respects the silence and does not see it as something that should make us uncomfortable. In fact, Ken is always happy to break the silence, but only if he has something worth interrupting it for.
Ken was born and raised in Japan, and he is fluent in Japanese. The last time I went on tour in Tokyo I brought home several Japanese fashion magazines and a new generation Tamagotchi that only speaks Japanese. Ken patiently translated several articles for me (my favourites were a makeup tutorial on ‘How to Achieve 3D Eyes’, and a dating column, ‘Beware of Snake Man’) and my Tamagotchi instructions. Thanks to him I managed to raise three generations of virtual pets. Ken is a really good friend.
A couple of years ago I had the pleasure of meeting Ken’s mother; a beautiful, statuesque, blonde Italian woman – who moved to Japan after marrying Ken’s father (a Japanese martial artist) and has been there since. Learning that Ken is half Japanese and half Italian explained so much of his design aesthetic; the combination of beautiful, hand-drawn images and bold graphic design hinting at Italian futurism. His craftsmanship is beyond reproach. Ken is the utmost synthesis of both of these aesthetically rich cultures.
On Ken’s CV, after his impressive education, work history, and numerous awards (for which he never brags, of course) he lists his volunteer activity: dog walker.
When I found out that Ken is vegan I asked what his favourite restaurant is, and he replied “I really like Wayne Gretzky.”
Because Ken develops websites and is so up to date with all the technological advancements and devices, you’d expect that he would always have the newest gadgets on the market, but Ken still uses his trusty iPhone 4. The other day he came over and took it out of his pocket; it was inside a ziplock bag. “What’s that?” I asked. “Oh, that’s my new phone case,” he replied.
Ken makes some of the most brilliant animations I have ever seen. Despite having access to powerful software to simplify his process, Ken continues to animate frame-by-frame. This painstaking attention to detail is what makes his work so powerful, regardless of genre, and this is why I love it so much. Everything he creates – illustrations, websites, print layouts, branding, logos – makes tangible the soul of this most wonderful, unique, and talented person.
Kazoo! Fest alumni Clara Venice creates ethereal, dream pop music using an array of instruments inspired by her classical music training and her life as a 21st century pop princess. She has performed around the world alongside her hologlamorous video personas, opening for the Violent Femmes, Rough Trade, Carole Pope and BNL.
Ed Video and Kazoo! Fest present YKMSNTR by Ken Ogawa, featuring a new animation with a soundtrack by Clara Venice. The work will be up from April 7th to 28th 2018 at Capacity 3 Gallery (6 Dublin Street S.) where there will also be a reception on Sunday April 15 from 10am – 1pm.