An interview with the graphic designer and art director from Tokyo, Japan, Yuta Kawaguchi a.k.a. Gucci Maze.
By Samuel Violante and Guccimaze's friends.
SM I'm interested to know more about your background, how did you connect with Graphic Design? GM As a kid, I used to love to draw and became interested in street culture through fashion, which was my first hobby. Graffiti and street culture go hand in hand, and I soon started to focus on doing graffiti which just came supernaturally to me. Eventually, I reached a point where I had to decide what to do after high school, and since fashion, skating, and drawing graffiti were my only interests back then, I thought I could find some sort of job that would allow me to focus on those things in the future. Actually back then I didn’t know the difference between graffiti and graphic design, so I decided to go to an art university in Tokyo and become a graphic designer. SM I see you are very related to the Rap and Hip-Hop scene, you've already worked with Nicki Minaj, Post Malone, and Fetty Wap… Tell me about your experience of being part of those projects. GM All of these projects were a really good experience for me. Everyone who offered me the opportunity to design for the artists you mentioned is extremely respected as a creator, and I think this point is significantly different from the Japanese scene. Of course, I love Japan and Japanese graphic designs too, but I guess the respect level for creators is not as high as in other countries. It’s precise because of this that I was so glad when they offered me a chance to be part of these incredible design teams. SM I want to know what's your opinion on fashion and how you relate to it in a time where it's so present particularly on streetwear? GM TBH I’m not that interested in the direction of fashion these days, but of course I love to feel and adopt certain fashion concepts and ideas into my designs. SM Are you interested in having your own fashion label? GM Yeah, but maybe not anytime soon. SM Tell me about your local scene, who you collaborate with and what are the biggest issues you deal with? GM Actually I haven’t worked much with local Japanese brands and artists yet because I’m not super well known in Japan. Honestly speaking, Japanese brands and artists tend to offer work mostly to famous designers, so regardless of the technical skills, knowledge, and creative sense you may have, if you have a low profile and not much exposure, work like what I did for Nicki and Posty won’t really come your way. This is why 50% of all of my clients are based outside of Japan. SM Yuta can you to tell to 5 different people: friends, family, and collaborators to ask you 1 question each, we would like to get to know you from the perspective of the closest people around you.
1.- YOSHIROTTEN (Graphic Designer): I think we gonna publish the next issue of PAN magazine. Could you recommend some really cool artists that we should feature?
GM Wow I didn’t know that but now we gotta do it asap. Honestly, I can’t say any names here, but I'm sure you're gonna love them.
*PAN is a visual magazine started by Yoshirotten and Junpei Inoue in 2015 with the aim of chronicling and publishing forward-thinking graphic designs and developments from all over the world. GUCCIMAZE was working for PAN as an associate editor.
2.- POGGY (United Arrows & Sons Director): What is your favorite label design? You can choose from alcohol, food, etc.
GM OLD BUD LIGHT, OLD PEPSI, MOUNTAIN DEW, MONSTER ENERGY…I can’t really choose just one choose one.
3.-DUONGTYPE (Typeface designer): What kind of environment do you like working in?
GM I’m not sure yet but most of my works are for international clients so I would love to move out of Tokyo someday.
4.- RAY MASAKI (Graphic Designer): What does your mom think about the work you do?
GM She still doesn’t really understand what I’m doing and thinks I’m just good at using a Mac.
5.- SHIMPEI NAKAYA (Graphic Designer): What is the funniest thing that has happened to you as a designer?
GM I’ve never had anything super funny happen to me yet, but certainly a few interesting clients.