VERDY is a globally sought-after graphic artist laude, and his creations, Wasted Youth and Girls Don’t Cry are lauded with fervent fans from all around the world. The highly praised artist, VERDY, had opened the pop-up event, titled TOKION x Wasted Youth “I can’t waste my time anymore.” at TOKiON the STORE.
A wide collection of items was made available at the event, including collaboration products with Häagen-Dazs and POSCA, of which their visuals were shot in Los Angeles, and the new Wasted Youth collection comprised of aloha shirt, shorts, and beach sheet.
Along the event, TOKION and VERDY have announced that they are hosting a design contest titled, TOKION x Wasted Youth T-SHIRT DESIGN CONTEST. The contest is taking place on Instagram, under the theme “If I made a T-shirt…?” Later, VERDY himself will select the one that most attracts his eye, and it will be introduced on TOKION’s website.
We sat down with the initiator of the project, who also has a memorable experience of submitting his work before on a magazine’s T-shirt contest, and heard about his thoughts on the project.
For me, it’s an opportunity to meet new people. I want people to join the contest casually for fun
ーーWhy did you decide to take part in hosting TOKION x Wasted Youth T-SHIRT DESIGN CONTEST?
VERDY: After 2020, since the pandemic started, I’ve decided to do less interviews and began launching projects from home, instead. For example, I did one where I posted a black and white graphic for people to enjoy coloring it in. I started the contest, thinking that it would be fun if I did a T-shirt contest under this circumstance. Also, I’m co-hosting this contest with TOKION, and I felt that it would become a more meaningful project working in tandem with the media.
ーーAnd what makes you think that the contest is going to be fun?
VERDY: In the past, I did a lecture at my old school (the vocational school where VERDY used to go), and after class, some students brought their portfolios asking for my comments and advice on how they could improve their drawings. Also, whenever I do a pop-up event, there are some kids who bring and show their illustrations to me, but I think there are only very few young kids who get to do things like that. There are only limited opportunities to meet me in person. And I’ve been thinking that there must be a lot of people out there, who are just like me in the old days, who want to continue designing and want to be a designer but frustrated as they can’t find the right place to work to pursue what they want to do.
ーーI agree. There aren’t that many people who can directly talk and get close to you.
VERDY: Right. But there must be a whole bunch of people from all around the world, who think “my drawings are the best!” And there are countless people, who post their works on social media. I’ve personally been wanting to meet new talented people, but the world is too big that it’s almost impossible to find those people by myself. So, I came up with this project thinking that if I did a contest that anyone can join, regardless of where they live, I would be able to gather and see a lot of works and meet new people with fun ideas and great creativity. So that’s why I think this project is going to be exceptionally fun.
ーーIs there a reason why you’ve decided to co-host the contest with TOKION?
VERDY: I’ve always wanted to do a project like this (T-shirt contest) and been thinking who would be good to partner with and when would be the right time to do it. This time, as we are releasing the Wasted Youth x POSCA collaboration items together and considering that these products focus on the art of “drawing,” I thought that they match the theme of the contest well. Also, as the modern world is suffused with Instagram or social media in general, I thought posting the works online and sharing them with people from all over the world is more significant now than ever.
ーーSpeaking of the past, I heard that you had also joined a T-shirt contest before.
VERDY: That’s right. In 2012, the Japanese street culture magazine, Ollie, was doing a T-shirt contest under NIGO®’s support and he was also the judge. And I entered for that contest.
However, I submitted my work without reading the rules thoroughly, and didn’t draw accordingly to the requirements, and sent an illustration of a boy moshing in a club wearing a pair of vans shoes…[laughs]. In the contest, 1 artwork was awarded a grand prize, and there were 9 other winners, and my work was chosen as one of them. I told NIGO® about this recently, and he remembered it, which made me extremely happy.
ーーIt’s amazing how you entered the contest and won a prize, but also the fact you talked to NIGO® about it some years later is so epic.
VERDY: Back when I entered the contest, I was still unknown, living in Osaka, and I remember being so nervous thinking that it might be a chance for my work to get published in a magazine from Tokyo. After I’d submitted my work, I just couldn’t wait ‘till the magazine came out with the announcement of the grand prize winner; now that I think about it, that winning experience was one of the reasons that kept me going without ever giving up on drawing. I think there are a lot of young people out there, who are like me from back then, finding a lot of inspirations and drawing pictures every day, but don’t really have a place to present their works.
ーーAnd this time, you are the judge of this T-shirt contest, and I’m sure this project is really exciting for the fans of Wasted Youth and Girls Don’t Cry as well.
VERDY: I hope there will be more people participating in the contest. Back when I submitted my work for the contest, I was drawing artworks for bands and I’d like to think that I came out debuting from that scene, but now, I want to know if there are young kids out there who also like bands and provide artworks for them. I’m also curious to know if there’s anyone who owns a brand and makes interesting graphics. I like people who diligently pursue the cool things they do.
ーーSo, are you hoping to discover young new talents?
VERDY: It’s actually not like that; I’m just yearning to “find out.” Though, if I were to say something to the younger generation, I want to let them know that there are ways for them to do what they want without getting consumed by the antiquated system.
ーーCan you elaborate on that?
VERDY: There are possibilities where new designers in the scene where I’m in, may succumb to unfair situations where the design is bought with a couple ten-thousand yen and re-used for years. Though, I strongly believe that these designers deserve to get paid enough, and at the same time, they should be responsible for their own works. It doesn’t matter if they become famous or not. If they do become famous, they will receive all sorts of offers, and in the beginning, they’ll be so elated that they might accept all offers, but that may lead them getting too much attention and the designs becoming too ubiquitous; and furthermore, there are people who earn a lot of offers temporarily yet become too busy that they eventually fail to find the right balance. It’s a shame to see those talents get ruined like that.
For corporates and brands, those designs may merely be one of the many designs out there, but since you have your name forever, you’re the one that needs to protect its value—I guess that’s the kind of message I want to deliver.
ーーAmazing. For this contest, what kind of feelings do you wish for the contestants to have when sending in their works?
VERDY: They can send them to me causally or they can send them to show their strenuous efforts—I’d be happy either way. They shouldn’t care about perfecting their illustrations or graphics, though. I’m not looking for perfection, so they don’t need to ever hesitate like, “is my work good enough to send?” I want people to feel free and just have fun with it.
■“TOKION×Wasted Youth T-SHIRT DESIGN CONTEST”