Nasa Funahara is a senior at Musashino Art University majoring in oil painting. Her hobbies, she says, include napping, arts and crafts and collecting masking tape. “I own about 450 rolls,” she told* a reporter earlier this year, referring to her ever-growing collection of making tape. “Whenever I find a color or pattern that I like I end up buying it.” So it was only a matter of time before Funahara turned to her massive collection for creative solutions too.
That time came when Funahara decided to use some of her tape for a school assignment. And she knew she was on to something. After displaying her work at a school festival and receiving overwhelming feedback she began creating a series of masking tape artworks that replicate famous paintings like, Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring and Van Gogh’s Sunflowers.
Each work is fairly large – about the size of a tatami mat, she says – and takes about 1 week to complete. Funahara works from an image of the painting in front of her but primarily uses freehand to cut and paste the bits of masking tape as she builds out her creation. You can see more of her work on portfolio site Loftwork.
Those familiar with Japanese names are probably curious about Funahara’s first name Nasa which, by almost any standard, is not a typical Japanese name. “Both my parents worked in the aeronautics and space industry,” explains Nasa. “On the day before I was born Mamoru Mohri went into space on the Space Shuttle Endeavour. To commemorate the occasion my parents named me Nasa.”
*all quotes translated from Japanese to English by the author
It’s interesting to see masking tape evolve from a behind-the-scenes tool to an actual material used to create art. Masking tape was originally used to mark off areas where paint wasn’t desired. But in Japan in particular the tape, which is often made from washi, has evolved into a decorative tool that comes in a dizzying array of colors and patterns.