Over at CNN, fantastically creative and influential Japanese artist Takashi Murakami is CNN Style's latest "guest editor." Along with commissioning a series of articles "exploring the theme of identity," he wrote his own insightful and inspiring essay about his life as an artist. From CNN:
As a child, looking at paintings was absolutely boring. One standout memory was when, around the age of 8, I had to wait in line for three hours with my family, just to see the Spanish artist Francisco Goya's painting at a museum in Tokyo. The work depicted Titan Cronus (or Saturn) eating his own children. The image was haunting and kept me up for many nights after. I think this profound experience, or trauma, formed the basis for my act of painting to this day. It taught me that if my work doesn't move people and induce a "wow!" then it's all for nothing.
Once I started grade school however, reading manga and watching TV anime became more important to me. No longer forced by my parents to go look at paintings, I became obsessed with "Ultraman," robot anime and sport-themed manga about boxing and baseball. I believe these experiences have a lot to do with how I now make films and animations, alongside paintings and sculptures….
In seventh grade, I fell into a hole in the ground and broke my skull and some bones in my right hand. I couldn't go to school for a month and subsequently failed to catch up academically. I ended up at a high school with a dismal academic record, where I couldn't study and had nothing to look forward to. I grew even more consumed with animation and manga, turning into a geek, or so-called "otaku."
In my senior year of high school, I met with my teacher to discuss applying to universities, and he declared that it would be impossible for me to get into any of them, no matter how low I set my sights.
Figuring that I had no choice but to go to an art university, which would admit students regardless of academic achievements, I completely gave up on education, rushing headlong into becoming a full-fledged otaku.