Artist Spotlight - Kota Sekiya
By Angelyn Labadan
1. First, give us a short introduction!
Hi! My name is Kota Sekiya, born and raised in Tokyo, Japan. Art major here at TUJ. I spent my life in Japan up until high school, but after high school I studied at a community college in a small city in Alberta, Canada. After studying there for about 2 years I transferred to TUJ in 2018.
2. Describe briefly the work that you do.
I’m a photographer. My main focus is street photography, where I walk around in the city of Tokyo looking for interesting shapes and lines, and often I try not to have many people in the frame.
By having less people in the pictures, I hope to create the contrast between the business of Tokyo and the emptiness that I create within the frame.
Other than street photography, I spend some time working on abstract and portrait photography.
3. How did you get introduced to your craft?
To be honest, art was never my thing until I began pursuing my art here at TUJ. But, my father had an old film camera and I tried using it when I was in high school.
I was, well I am still, terrible at drawing and painting, but trying photography made me realize that I could still express myself through photography.
Before finishing high school, I bought Fuji X100F, a small digital camera with a fixed lens, and it led me to the world of street photography.
4. What themes do you pursue?
Tough question! One thing I always keep in mind when photographing is not to think too much. Being a perfectionist myself always hindered me from finding new discoveries, and I have realized that thinking too much about composition, exposure, and other technical settings on the camera would prevent me from getting what I want. It’s like taking selfies; if you put too many filters you don’t look like you anymore. By thinking less, I am able to be myself and create my own photography world.
5. How do you work/what is your process like?
I am not a plan-ahead type of person, so what I usually do is just grab my camera, go out, and shoot for a while. Since I tend to easily get bored, I usually tell myself not to spend too much time shooting, but what I often end up with is that I keep shooting till I get the feeling of “I got the shot!”
6. Do you have any long-standing influences?
I do have my favourite photographers, but what influences me the most is my other art classmates. Being surrounded by those who are passionate about their art really helps me learn and grow up as an artist.
7. How do you want your work to affect your audience?
Sometimes street photography is associated with journalism photography due to the fact that street photography is to capture decisive moments. But I try to create a new space within the already-existing space. Tokyo is such a busy place, and we live here, and thus there’s nothing special about this city.
But I hope that my street photography shows many new, interesting elements of this city that everyone would never discover. In other words, my idea or message behind my photography is that what we take for granted or everyday things have more values and meaning than what we think are valuable or meaningful.
8. Can you describe your idea of artistic success?
I think success in art is completely different from that of business. Success in business is money, but artistic success is very subjective, and indeed I still haven’t figured out what it is.
But one thing I'm sure is that successful artists know well about themselves; as I mentioned earlier, art is about self-expression, so knowing “self” and creating the work that represents its artist is a key aspect of artistic success. However, in today’s modernized, digital world it is quite a challenge to create such work due to the huge influence of social media such as Instagram.
9. What are your plans for the future?
I'm graduating next spring and hoping to be a freelance photographer, and needles to say, to keep taking pictures!
10. Let’s talk about one of your most recent and favorite projects:
For the photo class I took in the spring, I wanted to take a break from street photography, and worked on an abstract photography project called “meaningfully meaningless” . At a glance, it is a bunch of pictures of the sky and buildings in Tokyo, but this is the point. I cultivated this idea as I worked on the project, but the main theme is basically this question, “what does meaning mean?”
When we define good pictures, we tend to look for stories, context, or meanings of the photographs. For example, some might ask me “what does this picture tell us?” I know context and stories are very important, but I thought that we were overly concerned about that and that challenging this idea would be interesting. Not having any meaning is the meaning of this project.
I was always shooting street photography, so this experience has been quite challenging and yet thrilling, and I hope to continue this and to try more new things.
Be sure to connect with Kota via his:
Thank you Kota for taking the time to talk with us!
Artist Spotlight is a series hoping to promote local creatives from TUJ and beyond. We aim to cover a diverse range of artists from a variety of fields, so please follow us to find out about aspiring artists and more!
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