New Emissary

Pop Art Fundraisers for Japan

Artists from around the world come together for Japan following last month’s earthquake and tsunami.

Following is a guest entry by La Carmina, TV host, ‘cool hunter’ and journalist focusing on Japanese fashion and travel.

The heart of my work takes place in Tokyo, where I host travel TV shows and write about Harajuku fashion and subcultures. In an alternate universe, I’d be in Inokashira park right now, hosting a Belgian documentary about sakura season.

Instead, the earthquake shook up my ‘spooky-pop’ universe. Friends fled Japan. Plans were put on indefinite hold. The destruction in Sendai haunts me; images and numbers I can’t begin to process.

I asked myself: as an artist, can I make a difference in this time of crisis? Working together, I believe there’s much that creative individuals can do to help.

Model and actor Sebastiano Serafini, a familiar face on my La Carmina Blog, survived the Tokyo quake and flew to Los Angeles. Here, we harnessed a tight network of artists, musicians, promoters and designers that inhabit the J-pop world. Everyone pooled resources to raise funds and awareness for the victims.

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We co-sponsored several art benefits in Los Angeles. At one, Q Pop Shop donated event space and pledged sales to charity. Tune in Tokyo DJs and bands volunteered to perform, while artists such as Junko Mizuno gave works for auction, as did illustrators for the Power Puff Girls, Samurai Jack and Pixar.

The events raised money through donations and sales, but also provided a space for creative types to come together in this difficult time. The simple act of attending added to the sense of camaraderie. Even Tweeting about the events let participants feel they were taking positive action to help. 

In addition to our art fundraisers, Sebastiano and I had impromptu collaborations with a variety of artists. I interviewed the band Black Veil Brides about their experiences in the earthquake, and we took photos with the Japanese flag to encourage donations. The Mr. Black party promoter let us set up a donation booth at his club night. Hair salon Toni & Guy dyed our hair red, as a visual statement of support.

We’re now working on longer-term design projects to benefit Japan, beginning with a charity t-shirt. Sebastiano co-founded the Hope project with fashion brand Like Atmosphere. We’re both the inspiration for a graphic tee designed by Alice and the Cat, with proceeds going to the victims of the tsunami and earthquake. To keep the momentum going, we also have a non-profit jewellery collaboration in the works.

The earthquake can be seen as a setback for artists whose career and lives are tied to Japan. But from another perspective, it’s an opportunity to team up and get the creative juices flowing to help Japan’s recovery.

For more information, please visit La Carmina’s website here.