I've had the honor of working with Hello Kitty and Sanrio several times over the years. Hello Kitty is quite an icon, and a character I grew up with. I've never reinterpreted Hello Kitty to far from her original look because I think she's perfect just as she is.
In 2009, I was included in the exhibition for the 35th anniversary of Hello Kitty called “Three Apples.” I created one original painting (and a print of that image) which was quickly bought by Sanrio. I also created a series of Hello Kitty heads, silkscreened in a variety of colors on small wood panels. Those sold so quickly, I actually did a second edition with a slightly different design. Towards the end of that show, I also led a workshop on Hello Kitty's birthday. For that event, 20 people got the opportunity to customize ceramic banks under my guidance. There was a catalog published featuring all the work. That first time working with Sanrio was great!
In 2010, Sanrio (the company that owns Hello Kitty) was celebrating their 50th anniversary, and again a big event and art show was planned. For this show, “Small Gift,” I was given a stand-alone booth to create my own mini-show within. Sanrio owns over 200 characters but wanted to focus on about 50 of those so it was an opportunity to explore some of their other beloved characters. The centerpiece of the booth was a very detailed painting featuring about 35 characters called “All My Favorite Flavors.” We also made prints of that piece. Just like the small wood panels I had done with Hello Kitty, I created some with the lovable My Melody and Batz Maru. Shortly after this show, there was another book published about Hello Kitty art, and I'm included in that one as well.
In 2014, I was again asked to create a new piece for Hello Kitty's 40th anniversary exhibition at the Japanese American Art Museum. For this show I created a large canvas featuring nearly 40 different interpretations of Hello Kitty; some in tradition poses, some totally new. The resulting piece is one of the largest canvases I've ever painted. Again, we made prints of the piece. At the same time as the exhibition, next door at The Museum of Contemporary Art, the first ever Hello Kitty Convention was taking place. I created a limited edition t-shirt (with JapanLA) and a very small run of hand-cast and hand-painted resin figures. Again, it was an honor to participate in the celebration of such a loveable icon!