Takashi Murakami is preparing a pop-up gallery in celebration of his new project with Vans, setting up painted surfboards and skateboards, carnival games, graffiti pieces that read "Vans x Murakami," and display cases of slip-on shoes. It’s Paris Fashion Week, and a host of fashion and art world elite will arrive the next day to celebrate the artist’s first major retail collaboration since designing for Louis Vuitton in 2002.

Yet Murakami exists in both the present and the future, as does his 24-hour studio back in Tokyo; he’s also taking breaks to sketch a garden reference for a new piece.

Murakami has all the art market success and institutional credibility of an icon, yet in conversation, he still humbly refers to himself as a “geek.” In addition to Louis Vuitton, and now Vans, he’s done acclaimed collaborations with Issey Miyake, visvim, Supreme, COMME des GARÇONS​​, KAWS, Kanye West, and Pharrell Williams. He’s the founder and President of Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd., an organization that manages his studio, multiple galleries and artists in Tokyo, and the on-hiatus art fair, GEISAI. In 2013, he made his debut in Japan as a filmmaker with Jellyfish Eyes, a coming-of-age action film examining the impact of natural disaster through the eyes of a young boy.