"He came to my studio to see this big breast sculpture," said Takashi Murakami yesterday evening, taking about none other than Kanye West. The Japanese artist was explaining how he came to design the album cover for Graduation during a talk at the Film Society of Lincoln Center.
The talk followed the New York debut of Murakami's film Jellyfish Eyes, a live-action and CGI film where children befriend magical creatures. One of those creatures is Miss Ko2, who just so happens to be the "big breast" statue Kanye first came to see at Murakami's studio. Miss Ko2 is an anime-style sculpture that looks like a highly sexualized Sailor Moon or a Japanese take on the French maid erotic stereotype.
Image via Christie's / Miss Ko2
Before designing the cover for Graduation, Murakami gave Kanye a tour of his studio. The rapper was "very quiet," according to Murakami, which he thought was a bad sign, but then Kanye called him a few months later. "He came to my studio and said, 'This is good, this is fresh.' He said, 'fresh,' which I think is a good sign, right?" Murakami asked a laughing audience at the Film Society.
Even though Kanye was a big fan of Murakami's work, it took 2 to 3 years for him to settle on a final design. But after various proposals and adjustments, the Graduation album cover was finally born.
Image via Wikipedia / Murakami's design for "Graduation"