the colorful world of motoko 'motty' marui

Tokyo-based art director and graphic designer Motoko 'Motty' Marui’s practice is rich in vibrant colors that leave behind a visual explosion with a lasting effect.

The colorful, rich, and ostentatious world 'Motty' creates leaves behind an impact that's impossible to forget –  the word "ostentatious" may often be used in a negative sense, but for her it is a compliment.

Working on ad visuals, CD jackets, magazine as well as editorial design, she has a special attachment for music-related design, whether she's creating band stickers for a friend she's known since high school or being moved by the sight of the cover of Björk's iconic album Homogenic.

Earlier this year she made use of a surreal and eye-catching bright red and monochrome motif for the CLOUD7 –  the debut album by Majiko, a talented and leading online vocalist. For Uso to Bonnou (Lies and Worldly Desires), KREVA's first album in four years, she created a collage using monochrome images with colorful hands on top, a piece that's very much 'her'.

Motty's work stretches into the worlds of fashion, art, and more. For the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, she designed a snowboard used by a female competitor from Spain.

As well as graphic designing, she is also an artist creating self-contained spaces out of nothing. When she wants to show her subjects in a close, real way, she will even act as her own photographer. But however you choose to describe her work, the truth is, it has an addictive quality to it.

Viewing her work is like having a mass of colors leap directly into your eyes, as if red and blue afterimages are stuck to your retinas and won't go away. There must be a world of colors out there that only she can see. She'll even admit herself that she has an unusual fixation on colour, saying "I'm attracted to bright and brilliant things."

"Even if I'm just making a single flyer, I'm particularly attentive when it comes to color scheme. It's not as though I pick my colors out of nowhere, though. Take Japanese mayonnaise, for example. You have the plump, cream-colored container, and then you have the contrasting red cap on top. I'm shocked every time I go to put some on a salad. I'm conscious about using a collision of colors, colors that call out and appeal to you," she explains.

"I think it was a class in middle school where we had to use the Paint tool in Windows 98. I made graphics with it through trial and error, trying to figure out just how far I could take it. I've always liked creating, even since I was a child," she says. 

Moving to Tokyo after learning design in Osaka, she worked in a number of design offices before going freelance. Her client list is diverse but every one of her pieces is full of her hip and poppy style: "I don't tear through books or photo collections when I'm looking for inspiration. I'm inspired by the sight of plain, boring streets and buildings, or things sitting on the road like trash. It's like I keep vague track of the kinds of colours and textures I find interesting, then turn those into something. I sometimes get help from images I see in my dreams, too."

If one was to compare her to other artists, Andy Warhol's vivid silk screens, Jean Cocteau's pastoral illustrations, and Piet Mondrian's impactful colours come to mind. She elegantly borrows from a range of images of beauty, covers them in her own rich flavours, and brings them to life in the present day. 

"I try to make sure my own 'colour' is present in any job I do. I feel like if I get the chance, I want to design monsters or clothes with unforgettable colours," she says.

Where will we see Motty's work next? Perhaps the artwork for an up-and-coming musician, or perhaps she'll be enchanting us with clothes seen on stage.

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