Thursday, April 16, 2015

New logo! 新ロゴ!

新ロゴ! New logo!

Notice something different? Scroll up! That's right: I sat down and finished my blog logo! モタク are the katakana characters mo-ta-ku, which is how you pronounce "meauxtaku." This is the same idea behind the pronunciation of my alias merimeaux, or メリモ: me-ri-mo. Easy peasy!

Old school モタク concept sketch
If you think the image looks familiar, then you might be a fan of home-cooked Japanese food: it's a parody of the Otafuku Foods logo, a company that manufactures Japanese condiments and pantry staples for sale both in Japan and in the U.S. You can't have proper okonomiyaki without Otafuku brand Okonomi Sauce!

Doesn't ring a bell? Perhaps you're thinking it resembles something out of Japanese culture and history, which is also correct: "otafuku" (お多福), which means "much good fortune," was a woman from Japanese mythology associated with happiness. Even today, her likeness can be seen on masks at Japanese festivals and on good luck charms at shrines. Otafuku Foods' own website offers some insight into the history and symbolism behind their namesake. It's an interesting little read!

Still doesn't sound familiar? Well, maybe you've been visiting my Redbubble shop, where you may have come across a similar design. When I was making okonomiyaki one day, I reached for my Otafuku Okonomi Sauce, and realized that the katakana for "otafuku" (オタフク) closely resembled that of "otaku" (オタク)--in fact, one could easily be mistaken for the other--and was thus inspired to create an otaku-fied parody. (Want to see the results? Here's the Japanese version, and here's the English version.) I guess rather than being a parody of the Otafuku Foods logo, I should say that my blog logo is a parody of my redone Otaku design...a parody of a parody. Mind blown.

So what's the deal with all this crazy parody inception? Well, one of the things I do for a living is create and design pop culture parodies. Ever since I was a kid, I've loved taking two seemingly unrelated things, finding some kind of common ground, and combining them to make something new. With my art, I aim to create something that makes people think: whether it's humorous, nostalgic, or a tongue-in-cheek social commentary, I want to invite people to look at our world differently. 

Parodies abound on my desk!
This brings me to another thing I love about Japan: it's basically a country full of parodies. You can call it fan art, you can call it character licensing, but parody is at the heart of all the cute and crazy crossovers. You can't even walk up the street leading to Kinkaku-ji in Kyoto without seeing T-shirts for sale parodying Boss Coffee. (You may have heard of Boss Coffee because of American actor Tommy Lee Jones' longtime involvement with the brand, appearing in commercials, on billboards, and on vending machines.)

The image to the right shows three things I randomly found here in my workroom that illustrate my point: at the top, a sticker of beloved Japanese character Doraemon dressed as Ronald McDonald and Colonel Sanders (strangely enough, Japanese love McDonald's x KFC fan art); in the middle, Sanrio mascot Gudetama on exclusive train-themed merchandise only available at Tokyo Station; and at the bottom, Hello Kitty as a Cincinnati Reds baseball player (though she could easily pass for a member of the Hiroshima Toyo Carp).

In future blog posts, I'll definitely talk more about Japan's parody culture, but in honor of my new logo I wanted to offer a quick primer on the matter. So, how do you like the new look? It's definitely making me hungry for some Japanese home cooking!

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