Purikura Party!

Whew! This past Sunday I spent a whole day at Pika Pika in Japantown on a purikura marathon. I arrived at 1:00pm and stayed for six hours while artists, academics, and activists came in to create purikura portraits with me. It was an exciting and exhausting day of starbursts, cartoon cacas, jeweled flowers, and cute skulls.

I’m feeling very confident in my abilities to teach purikura techniques after this weekend. Not guiding aesthetics but navigating the Japanese menus, deciphering the decoration screens, and managing the pressure of the countdown clocks shadowing every decision. Like my other recent purikura sessions I soaked in as much as I could about how each collaborator approached their decoration aesthetic. Below are the spoils of the day and you can really see the spectrum of what is possible in purikura portraits.

Katynka Martinez
Tania Figueroa
Tania Figueroa
Audra Ponce
Audra Ponce
Jessica Martinez
Jessica Martinez & Katynka Martinez
Armand Emamdjomeh
Ana Teresa Fernandez

You can see a bunch of hi-res images from the day at my flickr album HERE. Below is my video documentation of the day set to M-flo’s Dopamine.




Support System

These past few days have been intense and busy. I’ve been promoting My Mission, planning my yearly Day of the Dead exhibit, and balancing other creative projects. Chief among them is my full blown committal to purikura as an art form. Today I spent the early afternoon with Ms. Margarita (AKA Margarita Azucar) for another round of purikura art making. We met up following her radio show on radiovalencia.fm. On our way to Pikapika in Japantown we stopped off at her apartment and I saw something that made me smile so much.

Seeing these two cans propping up a window in Margarita Azucar’s apartment instantly brought me back to my childhood and warmed my heart. Growing up in an old San Francisco Victorian apartment my parents used all sorts of object to prop open our windows. We used books, old toys, Lincoln Logs, and other random things to keep our windows open on a hot day. I’m hella nostalgic right now.

Our purikura session went great! Ms. Margarita rocked an awesome pink wig and busted out with some great poses for the photos, she was truly like a Chicana superhero. I’ll be scanning the photos and posting them in the new couple of days. Stay tuned!



Behind the Scenes and Mischief in the Mission

This past Sunday I got together with the infamous Mayra Ramirez for another session of Homegirl Purikura. For this special session we were joined by guest artist and chola Evil Rose. Mayra and I met Evil Rose in Japantown and together we ventured into Pikapika to take some photos.

During our first session of Homegirl Purikura Mayra turned all sorts of heads in Japantown while she was decked out in her chola gear and persona. With Evil Rose in the mix we were a walking spectacle. Tourists who were in the area for the Nihonmachi Street Fair didn’t know what to make of us. Our presence was unavoidable.

Evil Rose was a natural Purikura artist, Mayra and I showed her the basics and she just took off with it.  Mayra also continued her unique and intense approach to her Purikura practice. I decorated a couple of images but for the most part I stood back as a facilitator for this session. It was a thrill to see this powerful pair of cholas team up and work as artists together.

Lastly, I finally got to try out The Cube, the newest Purikura booth at Pikapika. I can’t wait to share the images that came from it. It was definitely the most sophisticated and technically advanced Purikura booth I’ve ever been in.

Following our Purikura adventure we all decided to head to the Mission District for a shoot in Balmy Alley. Evil Rose is not only a model/performer but a professional photographer herself. We turned our cameras on Mayra who lived up to her reputation as the ultimate Chola muse. Below are some photos, to see the full gallery of images check out my flickr page.

I also managed to record a little behind the scenes video while we were shooting. Here’s two videos of Mayra playing around. When she focuses on her chola persona she disappears into it but when she breaks character she’s equally charismatic. Check it out!



La Pura Cura Purikura

This past weekend I embarked on my second collaboration with the brilliant and loco por sure Guillermo Gomez-Peña (along with members of his performance troupe La Pocho Nostra). Our project is La Pura Cura Purikura. It’s an ongoing project of purikura photos costumed, performed, and decorated by Gomez-Pena, facilitated and decorated by myself.

For this first shoot we were joined by La Pocha member Kika Olsen (below).

Gomez-Peña had the idea to dress himself as a post-apocalyptic border-shaman. With that in mind we all packed up our costumes and props and traveled to Pikapika in Japantown for a purikura adventure. Suffice to say we turned a few heads while we took photos and as Guillermo and Kika got into their characters amongst confused Japanese teenagers.

Below is a sampling of the images we created together. There are more planned Purikura sessions on the way with La Pocha Nostra so stay tuned! For a full gallery of La Pura Cura Purikura CLICK HERE.




Busy Chicano Omake

The week leading up to SOMArt’s Day of the Dead exhibit is always the busiest, craziest week of the year for me. I’m trying to return my life to a normal schedule while taking care of a few loose ends. I have so much to write about but not much time in the next couple of days. In the meantime enjoy these Purikura photos that I took with my homegirl Ava Alamshah.

Peace & Purikura,


プリクラ Jumpoff

It seems like I have been hustling on graphic design work 24/7 so today I took a break in the morning for an outing to Japantown with my homegirl Maya Chinchilla. We had one goal in mind: hit up pikapika and take some crazy-ass pictures. This was my second trip to pikapika and Maya’s first. Once again the guy who works there was super-friendly and helpful in helping us navigate the menus of the machines we used.

We used the Minna booth (below) and once again I was drawn to the Love Joker booth (above). This time around we used Love Joker’s Shiny Madonna theme. Love Joker has 3 aesthetic themes that you choose from before taking your photos and each theme has a different assortment of backgrounds and suggested poses. The Minna booth had an amazing array of color foil backgrounds that my scanner does not do justice to. Seen in person, they jump off each print.

I am more determined than ever to curate a Purikura exhibit. I can only imagine what kind of images artists and performers can create together with these magical photo booths. If anyone out there is interested in exhibiting or participating in such a show let me know.

Peace and プリクラ,


Anygüey Love and Lolita Guadalupes

I was interviewed this weekend by Alejandro Paz for Anygüey and it was just posted today. I do intend to keep my word and design a tattoo for Alejandro. More on that story as it develops.

Yesterday Mariela and I ventured to Japantown, our first trip there in years. Rene and I go to the Kabuki theater all the time but we rarely go into any of the shops these days. I had been dying to check out New People, a brand new shopping center that recently opened. New People was launched by Viz Media; for those of you that don’t know, I actually used to work for Viz and their publication Animerica way back when. It’s crazy to think that the small company of about 20 that I started working with is now an expanding media empire.

The most fascinating shop at New People was BABY, the Stars Shine Bright the first flagship store of the Japanese Lolita Fashion brand. I had only seen Lolita fashion through magazines & computer screens and seeing a store full of these clothes was like being in a surreal movie set. What really caught my eye was a $38.00 tote bag from the store’s Alice and the Pirates line that featured the image below.

Annie and the Pirtates

An image of the Virgin surrounded by a bleeding heart, roses, and a skull. This was very clearly not a Catholic motif but a reference to Chicano pop sensibilities. Is this a sign of things to come in Lolita fashion?

Mariela and I then walked over to the Kinokuniya building and quickly discovered pikapika. pikapika is a store with nothing but Japanese Purikura photobooths (about 10 in total I think). The place was closing soon and Mariela and I had just enough time to hop into a Love Joker booth and take a set of photos. I used to love Purikura booths as a teenager but DAMN, the technology has improved since then. The ring of diffused strobes that surround the touchscreen menu of the booth were impressive. After our shoot we were led to another section of the booth where we could decorate and draw on our photos using wacom-like pens. All the text of the machine was in Japanese but pikapika has helpful translation charts posted on the machine. The end result of our picture taking and decorating was printed out on a 4×6 sheet of sticker paper.

Making the photos was a fun experience and at $10.00 a pop, it wasn’t cheap but it was well worth it. My mind is now spinning with thoughts of curating an art exhibit of artists who create portraits of themselves with purikura booths. With all the machines at pikapika, there are endless possibilities for artists to create amazing images using them. If anyone is interested in participating in or hosting such an exhibit please let me know.