Hennessy: Taxa on finding inspiration in travels and traditions

A basketball court is no longer just a court after Japanese artist “Taxa” brings his touches to it. The Japanese street artist talks to Ha Rin Choi about his inspirations, challenges and how his art ties with the Spirit of the NBA

There are many reasons why one would pursue a dream or a feeling. Often these pursuits are spurred by inspiration. And award-winning Japanese street artist, “Taxa”, is filled with it. The artist attributes his creativity to his many travels, which have taken him from Canada to South Africa and Hong Kong to New Zealand. Though great distances have been covered, it is all about the journey of the heart for him. “I’ve been doing what I like to do, which led me to become an artist.”

One thing the artist is sure about is that living in foreign countries has made him want to know more about his own roots in traditional and old Japanese culture.

His skills have been in the spotlight at multiple high-profile international street art festivals, such as Hong Kong’s street art and mural festival, HKwalls, in 2017 and 2021. He also showed off his talents at the Meeting of Styles in Manila in 2018.

In 2016, he was the finalist of Secret Walls x Hong Kong series 4. Furthermore, he won the Hong Kong Vans Asia Custom Culture Competition in 2017.

The artist has now turned to basketball court designs.

In this next chapter, Taxa joins hands with Hennessy and the National Basketball Association (NBA) in the much-anticipated global artistic collaboration “Hennessy In The Paint” where he puts his art on a local basketball court in an attempt to revitalise this local community space in a meaningful way. He infuses several drawings and figures to deliver messages and support the local community.

Taxa highlights the importance of connection throughout his basketball court design. “Two huge hands on the court symbolise emotions of wanting/trying to reach out for someone or something which can be anything your heart desires to connect to,” he explains.

Inside the centre circle, the design visualises the way of connecting and blending. While it also includes the Hong Kong skyline lights to show energy, emotions, and a fast-paced lifestyle.

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Taxa found that balance is most important for a basketball court. As too detailed and colourful designs can distract players, he focused on finding the right equilibrium between layout and colours. He also emphasised the technical side, “White lines need to stand out (to show the markings clear). So I used contrasting colours (like pink and navy) around the white lines to make them more distinctive.”

Taxa doesn’t believe that skills magically become better – it requires hard work and determination. “The only way to improve my art is to keep doing and carry on little by little,” he said. That is also why the project with Hennessy is meaningful to him.

“It […] is one of the coolest projects I’ve worked on,” he says. “I never thought I would get an opportunity to design a basketball court, and I’m proud to be the artist for this project. No matter what you do, you’ll have a hard time, and I still do from time to time. So I just carried on with what I needed to do. And I will continue [doing that]. Art is my game, and the game never stops.”

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