Eric Nakamura, Giant Robot
Eric Nakamura, Giant Robot Interview
Eric Nakamura just might be the hardest working guy in Los Angeles. If you’re familiar with the Giant Robot brand, you’re well aware of its legacy and dedication to featuring Asian and Asian-American pop culture. Giant Robot covers everything from art, design and entertainment to toys, history and music.
My first interaction with the Giant Robot brand was over 14 years ago in Tucson, Arizona, in the magazine section of a Border’s bookstore. There it was, just sitting there waiting to deconstruct every preconceived notion I had of what a magazine should be. That moment would impact my life forever; I’d never look at media the same way again.
Over the years, Giant Robot would continue to have this impact on my life, and its ability to continually evolve and reinvent the way it interacts with its users has been inspiring. This organic environment that Giant Robot has developed works because it comes from an honest place and it starts with Eric. Eric is on a journey to collaborate with the world and curate experiences for each of us. It’s authentic and it’s contagious. Spend just a few minutes with Eric and you get it, you see the passion behind Giant Robot, you hear the curiosity in his voice and you are instantly sucked into his world.
Giant Robot is an experience, a world curated by Eric filled with interesting figurines, beautiful art and unique adventures.
What did you want to be when you were a kid?
I wanted to be a world champion pro tennis player with the style of Bjorn Borg and the heart of John McEnroe.
Why did you start Giant Robot?
Tennis wasn’t going as well as I hoped, but making zines and putting projects together is something I’ve always been into doing. There were no magazines I was interested in, so GR was sort of everything I’d want in a magazine. Art, design, history, culture, travel, idiots, and more. Giant Robot also opened stores and galleries and that provided a great experience for me and others. We’re not publishing in print now, but we are still delivering culture and art better than ever.
Where do you find inspiration?
Everyday, everywhere, all the time. Sitting in my room, office, car, watching TV, traveling, walking down the street, meeting people. A lot of people I know say it’s music, but that doesn’t do it for me. I feel bad for the folks who can’t get inspired by anything. That’s sad.
5 people or things that influence you?
Max Fisher from Rushmore
Mom and Dad
How do you define success?
I define success as being satisfied with oneself. For others it’s probably about money, girls, bling, and fame. All of that’s cool, but it’s all temporary. Then again, being satisfied with myself is temporary too, there’s always more that I want to do.
What did you have to learn the hard way?
Everything takes great care and there’s levels upon levels to all things that you’d never think about. There’s always something more, and you have to figure out what fits you best. There are other lessons. The idea is to not act like you have the answers to this question, but to just keep going forward with them.
Best part of your job?
The best part is my job enables me to do almost anything I want. If I think it, I can try and do it.
You win the Lottery, two million dollars right in your lap, but you have to spend it all within the next two weeks. What do you do with it?
Well, two million dollars sounds great. I’d upgrade everything to help out the experience at Giant Robot. The weird thing is, with little funds, we get a lot done. Perhaps I’d start something new with it and have that extend our reach.
What’s the worst interview question you have ever been asked?
In the end, it wasn’t worth remembering. There’s been plenty but in the end, it’s all OK. Some people just ask questions without thinking for many reasons. That’s OK too.
Years ago, people would ask for some odd reason if we were associated or owned by the Beastie Boys. It was offensive then. Maybe it’s because we were doing something new, did it on our own, and then hearing that people thought we were owned by a band was a big let down.
Asian American students have asked, “How much money do you make?”
It’s an honest question, and not a bad one, but why are they always Asian American?
The most tiring question is, “Why are you called Giant Robot?”
The answer in my head is, “I forgot.”
Giant Robot is an incredible platform and advocate for emerging artists. What advice do you have for people who want to make art a career?
Thanks for the compliments. We like the work. Emerging is a fun word. I suppose I’d rather not help the emerging, since in the end once they emerge, they leave.
To start an art career, there seems to be a few factors that are a baseline – at least from where I stand.
1) Learn your craft.
2) Learn from criticisms along the way.
3) Be fair.
4) Be willing to work hard.
5) Think both short and long term.
How can we make the world a better place?
I think many are trying and it’s not working. In the short term, we can only make ourselves and a few others feel better by the little things we do, but most don’t do that. Perhaps a way to start is 1-5 above.
2015 Sawtelle Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90025
Hours Mon-Sat: 11:30-8:00pm, Sun: 12:00-7:00pm
2062 Sawtelle Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90025
Hours Mon-Sat: 11:30-8:00pm, Sun: 12:00-7:00pm
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