Early on, @takashipom saw how difficult it was to forge a stable career in the Japanese art market and resolved to build his reputation abroad. After studying Nihonga, a traditional Japanese painting style, he began exploring the characters and preoccupations that would become his signature (a peppy, animated mouse-like creature named Mr. DOB and a sinister, skeletal mushroom cloud, for instance). Murakami hit his stride in the late 1990s and, thanks to a tireless work ethic and a gleeful engagement with consumer culture, has remained unrelentingly relevant ever since. Story by @meredythcole. Photography by @fahimkassam for MONTECRISTO Magazine Summer 2018.