Go inside the worlds of art, fashion, design, and lifestyle.
Naomi Osaka makes headlines for her instinctual tennis techniques year after year, tournament after tournament. Her ability to step away, however, is leading the latest news after pulling out of the French Open to prioritize her mental health. The 23-year-old tennis star was fined for skipping a recent press conference, and thereafter decided it best to forego the next big match.
“The truth is that I have suffered long bouts of depression since the US Open in 2018 and I have had a really hard time coping with that,” she said on Twitter on May 31. “I am not a natural public speaker and get huge waves of anxiety before I speak to the world’s media.”
Osaka’s capability to communicate what’s comfortable or uncomfortable stretches beyond court limits, venturing into the world of art and fashion, too. She is a "do what feels good" woman who engages in hobbies and other interests, outside the world of sport. In February 2020, ADEAM presented its Fall/Winter 2020 collection, with pieces created in collaboration between designer Hanako Maeda and Osaka. The ADEAM x Naomi Osaka collection explored the duo’s shared Japanese heritage and presented intellectual, feminine, and origami-like materials that draped the silhouette.
Most recently, she and her sister, Mari, tapped the art world and dug deep into its newest niche—NFTs. Inspired by Naomi, Mari created five original digital artworks for an NFT collection entitled “The Colors of Naomi Osaka.” On Basic.Space, the series sold at auction for $600,000, and a sixth piece was won through a raffle that was five dollars per entry. Aimed to democratize the process of collection art, the raffle’s last piece was valued exponentially higher than the rest. All money raised from the raffle to Play Academy with Naomi Osaka—an initiative Osaka leads that aims to change girls’ lives through sports.
Last week, the raffle’s winner, Scott Cooley, committed to re-selling his work on Basic.Space, donating five percent of the sale proceeds to Play Academy if it sells between $50,000 to $250,000 and ten percent if it sells for over $250,000.
Adroit at communicating how they feel, the Osaka sisters spoke with Whitewall about creating their first NFTs and how their futures are brimming with art, fashion, and truth.
WHITEWALL: Tell us about your NFT works on Basic.Space. Why was this digital art space something you wanted to get involved in?
NAOMI OSAKA: My sister and I wanted to create unique pieces of art. It was cool to work with Basic Space again and indirectly with Roham at Dapper Labs.
WW: What was it like collaborating with your sister for these artworks?
NO: My sister and I have been drawing since we were little kids in the back of my mom’s car on the way to tennis matches. Mari is especially talented. So when we saw the NFT space, emerge we thought it was a great opportunity to showcase her digital art.
It’s always amazing to work with her because she is so talented and also she’s my best friend.
WW: The sixth piece of art was won through a raffle at $5 per entry, which democratized the process and allowed more people to participate and potentially win a piece will be valued exponentially higher than its original price. All money raised from this raffle was donated to Play Academy ith Naomi Osaka—an initiative you lead that aims to change girls’ lives through play and sport. Why was this important for you to do?
NO: We really wanted the whole cross section of my fanbase to be able to participate and obviously the pieces became too expensive for more people quite quickly. So the raffle concept really made the project much more inclusive.
WW: What is your personal relationship like with art?
NO: I’d say that I dabble as a curator; but I’m also a passionate collector. Mari is the actual artist.
WW: We also sat across from you at Adeam's fashion show in 2019, when you debuted collaboration with Hanako. What is your relationship like to fashion?
NO: That’s cool that you were there! Fashion is my main passion outside of tennis. I love the whole process of design—from start to finish—and plan to do more in the future.
WW: You will co-chair The Met Gala in September. What we can expect?
NO: It’s such and honor, especially to do it with the other chairs—like Billie [Eilish], Amanda [Gorman], and Timothee [Chalamet]—who I admire so much! I’m going to have to say that my outfit will be a surprise though…
WW: What parts of your sister were you inspired by, and wanted to include in the NFTs?
MARI OSAKA: The works are a collection I created with Naomi based of her personality and interests.
WW: What are your thoughts on art moving toward a more digital space?
MO: I think NFT is definitely something of the future. It’s amazing to me and proof that art will always be prized in society.
WW: What is your relationship to art? Anywhere you particularly like to go to see art?
MO: I have been drawing and painting since I was little. I respect it and will go out of my way to visit museums and galleries when I have the chance, but my favorite place in the world that I’ve been to so far for art would be the Louvre in Paris. It has so many amazing historical paintings that it blows my mind.
WW: You and Naomi also designed masks together amid the pandemic. What did this entail, and why was this something you wanted to do?
MO: We made the masks because considering it was something you put on your face and showed off to the world, we wanted the masks we wore to fashionable and cute. We had the opportunity to make them and also donate the proceeds to charity so it was a win win.
WW: What are you working on next?
MO: I’m working on a few things right now, all of them are creative so I’m extremely excited. I hope to finish them and show the world soon.