If I were to be most honest with you I would tell you that I’m not sure I can completely express my gratitude for the love and support I received in Tokyo this past August. It was a real moment for me and it all happened so fast. I had been planning to do some type of exhibition in Tokyo since last November. I had these big ideas and thoughts of how it should be, all super expensive concepts for my first activation in a place where I have been inspired by for a long time. I felt I owed something great like that to Tokyo. Our end solution didn’t end up being any thing like my first ideas but it was perfect. Because of time we decided to focus on the Mental Health Is Real brand. It’s the first time I’ve done something dedicated to the brand and honestly it was long over due. Here is a short statement I wrote for the pop up shop that explains the concept…
The concept of the pop up shop is to create an environment that encourages conversation around mental illness. De-stigmatizing mental illness is really important, annually over 20,000 people loose their lives to mental disorders yet there is little conversation about mental illness or mental health. I think when we can speak honestly about what’s going on in our lives we really build stronger connections and an even stronger community. The pop up shop acts as a medical office waiting room and an effort to be comfortable normalizing honest conversation and self expression in popular cultural destinations like Harajuku where the installation takes place.
I didn’t know what to expect. When I first got to the space I was buzzing and picking apart what Nomura and Masa had done already. I pulled out the 4 paintings of the Chance covers I did starting to feel like I needed to buy more things for the pop up. In my excitement I was running around Tokyo working. Trying to get everything I thought I needed to sell the concept. At some point I stopped myself and had to be completely honest with myself. The reality was that the pop up was happening in a day and there was no time to overthink things or be busy trying to sell myself to an audience when just being present was enough. After that I chilled. Of course my goal was to sell as much as we could and it went well due to the work Dum Dum TV did. We had a few write ups and tweets and apparently that’s all we needed. We completely sold out of all but 4 shirts by the beginning of the final day and by the end of that day everything was gone. Totes, tees, hats, free post cards, all gone. People showed so much love. A woman came through with a photo of me printed out and she had me sign it at the event. Blew my mind. A group of young black creatives came through to hear about the concept and check out the work as well. An a black girl from Barbados who currently lives in Tokyo shared her story with me about how she had really been struggling with her mental health while living in Japan. I thank you all for sharing yourselves, being very open and making making my day every single day of this experience. I will never forget this.
I was out in Tokyo at the same time as so many people from Chicago Chance, Peter, Stix, Joe, Reese, Nico, Kirsten, Krystal, Sam, Dillon, Rob, 40, Knox, Liam, Lane, Julio, Tyjuan, Vince etc. etc. etc. it was like 20 people I knew from Chicago all in Tokyo. Only 4 people from Chicago made time and came through to see the pop up. So thank you Joe, Tyjuan, Vince and Peter for coming through. This was a big moment for me so that meant a lot, for real.