Interview with Taketo Oguchi – Clark Gallery+SHIFT Hokkaido

By Mike Sullivan.

Please introduce yourself and your background.

My name is Take Oguchi, I studied economics at university, but at the same time I studied at and graduated from a design school. My first job was in design production, a while later the Macintosh was released and I could start using Desktop Publishing on a PC, and soon after this I began working independently in design while the internet began and I took advantage of the chance to use it.


Shift Magazine has become famous across Japan, what was the trigger point for starting this art magazine?

The content of SHIFT is not only about art, but also includes a variety of creative culture such as design, fashion, and architecture. As I mentioned previously, I began using internet to send out information as soon as it began. At the time, not many people in Sapporo, Hokkaido used the internet; therefore, I provided bilingual news in English and Japanese from the beginning.

Meanwhile, more and more people doing the same thing showed up, the idea of having media to publish information we have emerged and when I contacted these people, this was how SHIFT started. I started SHIFT very quickly and the magazine was recognized in no time. SHIFT became how it looks today after I gradually increased its content as well as contributors. Initially, the magazine introduced Japan to other countries and vice versa. Now it presents to readers what is happening in the world.


MUSEUM STORE - photo by Yoshisato Komaki
MUSEUM STORE – photo by Yoshisato Komaki

Shift Magazine also organises the DOTMOV festival every year, can you tell us about the success of this festival?

Many readers of SHIFT are creators or creators-to-be; therefore, I tried to plan activities especially for this group of readers. I have introduced many creators in SHIFT, but I decided to discover new talents through an open call project.

I selected several works from the open call and put them online as well as in a DVD package. Then I send these DVD packages to major cities in the world for screening. Locations (cities) for the screenings have increased year by year.



How did the Clark Gallery + Shift start?

The editing policy of SHIFT focuses on picking up things between major and underground culture, which includes some of my own interests. I have introduced quite a few creators on SHIFT who became famous afterward. From this experience, an idea came across my mind that SHIFT could be the active and strategic media for those artists I found in Hokkaido. It came about from a desire to introduce and activate the art scene of Hokkaido.

Clark Gallery - photo by Yoshisato Komaki
Clark Gallery – photo by Yoshisato Komaki

How do you select the artists that you represent?

I rely on feelings, or select unique works (artists) which are like no other in the world. The work must be original and show a sense of humour. It is very important that the artist himself/ herself has a very strong will to be highly active in his/ her area.

Can you tell us about your involvement in Creative Hokkaido? What does Creative Hokkaido aim to do?

In recent years, the so called “Cool Japan” business has been very popular; this was the trigger for the “Cool Hokkaido” project. In this Hokkaido version, the word “Cool” can be replaced by “Creative”, the purpose is to introduce new culture and spots of Hokkaido to the rest of the world and draw their attention to this new Hokkaido.

Creative Hokkaido:

The “Michelin Guide Hokkaido” was released in 2012. A lot of restaurants in Hokkaido are Michelin starred restaurants. So, for example, in order to introduce these restaurants to people from abroad, we can recruit Michelin starred chefs to present local food and introduce local music, art and fashion at the same time.

In 2011, I volunteered to organize a cultural exchange event in Shanghai to present creators from Hokkaido. The event was very successful, and it gave me the chance to collaborate with both the Sapporo and Japanese government, and again I visited Hong Kong and Taipei for business promotion two years ago.

I am the creative director and in charge of all projects in SHIFT. The magazine constantly introduces the creative culture of Hokkaido.

SHIFT has a section called “SHIFT CITY GUIDE” which introduces creative spots in cities. Some introductions of creators and spots in this section have also been extended.


CREATIVE HOKKAIDO dinner 2013 Photo by Takumi Yamamoto
CREATIVE HOKKAIDO dinner 2013 Photo by Takumi Yamamoto

I also understand you are involved in Sapporo ACF and Sapporo Media Arts Lab?

Sapporo is participating (in the category of) media arts of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network. Sapporo Media Arts Lab is the institution to promote “creative city Sapporo” by holding forums and performing various experimental projects. The Sapporo International Art Festival (Art Triennale) was held this summer and has become the core of the creative city Sapporo.

As for Sapporo ACF (Art Culture Forum), it gathers the representatives of different cultural organizations such as ballet, orchestra, opera, theatre and music, and carries out grassroot activities to make Sapporo a cultural city. I joined these organizations to help promote Sapporo culture. I have wanted to do it for years (probably also because of my age), and felt that it is my responsibility, or mission. Anyhow, I would like to make my city an enjoyable and cultural place to live.



Art Fair Sapporo:

ART FAIR SAPPORO at Cross Hotel - photo by Yoshisato Komaki
ART FAIR SAPPORO at Cross Hotel – photo by Yoshisato Komaki
ART FAIR SAPPORO Breakfast in moere - photo by Yoshisato Komaki
ART FAIR SAPPORO Breakfast in moere – photo by Yoshisato Komaki

What is your favourite thing about Hokkaido?

My favourite thing about Hokkaido is fresh, good quality ingredients and the splendid environment within which people are able to enjoy cooking. Before long, a fusion of different styles of food such as “Hokkaido French”, “Hokkaido Italian” and the word “Hokkaido food” will be known to the world from “Japanese food.” Besides, the nature in Hokkaido is very rich. I like to spend time outdoors, for instance, fishing, camping and mountain climbing.

If you could learn a traditional Japanese craft what would it be?

My interests are not directly related to crafts, but more in the way of flower arranging and tea, this is the so called wabi sabi traditional Japanese culture. This wabi sabi spirit calms my mind and inspires me.

ICE HILLS HOTEL Midori Kambara - photo by Yoshisato Komaki
ICE HILLS HOTEL Midori Kambara – photo by Yoshisato Komaki

Finally, any last words for anyone interested in modern Japanese art and culture?

A complex “MUSEUM” that introduces the creative culture of Hokkaido opened in east Soseigawa in Sapporo last June. On the first floor you can find the shop “museum store” which also has a collection of Hokkaido art, as well as fashion, groceries and music. The second floor has been taken over by “Clark Gallery + SHIFT”, in order to display the works of Hokkaido artists. The office of SHIFT has also moved to this floor and this office is also the secretariat of Sapporo ACF. You can find the best selection of Hokkaido here. Please come and visit “MUSEUM” if you are in Sapporo.


Chisato Shinya Exhibition Cross Hotel - Photo by Ryoichi Kawajiri
Chisato Shinya Exhibition Cross Hotel – Photo by Ryoichi Kawajiri
Living with Art at BISSE - photo by Yoshisato Komaki
Living with Art at BISSE – photo by Yoshisato Komaki