This Gen-Z artist's work hangs in galleries and at auctions, and can sell out exhibits. But it's been created with her finger to a tablet or smartphone screen, not unlike an artist's paintbrush to a canvas. Once traumatized with paralysis and now the death of her mentor, her desire to leave a lasting impact and make the most of every moment translates into energetic art. Now, her goal is to change the art world's perception of it, and show that digital tools can create "priceless" art.
Hi, I'm Naka Mitsuki,
and I'm a contemporary artist.
I draw and paint using just my smartphone or tablet.
Thanks for having me.
All my art is created using a smartphone or tablet.
It's interesting that she deletes the data
of each piece once it's printed out.
The soul of each piece moves from
the screen to the canvas when printed.
It's digital art but it's still one of a kind.
I was 10 when I was paralyzed with hemiplegia.
I wanted to leave my mark on the world
before I might suddenly leave it.
All I could hold was a smartphone.
Art created on tablets or phones is seen
as being "less than" or "easy."
Big change takes time, but the art scene needs
to embrace new art like yours.
Today, I'm getting my photo taken
professionally, to update my artist profile.
My paintings will be plastered over 7 windows
of a huge building in the middle of Shibuya.
The biggest window will feature a photo of me,
so I'm here to get a good one.
Mitsuki’s work was selected
to be exhibited by this
Shibuya landmark shopping &
I'm cool with showing my face, because I want people to get to know
me as a person, not just my work.
I like to pull back the curtain.
I already spent a lot of my life unable to
express myself when I was paralyzed, so now I feel ready to make up for it twice as much.
All the things I couldn't do when I was sick,
I get to them straight away now.
Whatever it is, I give it my all.
It's so exciting. It feels like
I'm the artist of my own life.
What do you think?
Wow, it's amazing!
How was it?
It was SO fun.
Best day ever!
I can attempt all these new challenges because
there are people behind me who support me.
Having them around me enriches my life as an artist.
Long time no see!
Thanks for coming.
This is my friend Yurika.
Hi, I'm Yurika.
Yurika was 1 grade above Mitsuki.
Mitsuki and Yurika spent almost
every day together when
they were in university We were in a folksong club, and we used this room
to practice or just to hang out and talk.
Whenever I needed some courage, Yurika was right there to give me a push.
I remember one time you said,
"Yeah, I want to make a living with my art."
But you had no confidence in your voice.
In 2018 while in college, Mitsuki applied for an art scholarship
from a large company. She made it to the shortlist.
The final selection for that scholarship was in Tokyo.
I'd never been to Tokyo before and was unsure
if I should even go or not.
Yurika said, "You have to go, you'll regret it if you don't."
She gave me the push I needed,
and everything began from there.
I don't know much about the art industry,
but I had a feeling she'd make it.
You never ever held me back.
I told you to move, no matter what.
You're so persuasive, and it
inspires me to be confident.
Even though you personally feel insecure, we as viewers
can see all your emotions successfully laid out in your art.
That's why I think your work & talent inspire others
to walk their own path like you did.
Even if I feel unsure or lost, I can work with
peace of mind because you're in my life.
Thank you so much.
To me, a friend is...
Someone who faces me with honesty.
I'm here in Iga City of Mie Prefecture.
My grandpa's house is over there,
surrounded by all those fields.
I've been here countless times
but today feels...different.
Here we are.
You get in through this small doorway.
I was here recently but it feels like it's been ages.
Time to go in.
Ah, it brings back memories.
There's a traditional grill
in the middle of the table.
My family used to have BBQ
with grandpa here.
Grandpa, I'm back!
And I look who I brought with me,
what do you think, Granpa?
You promised to be on this show with me, remember?
Mitsuki’s grandpa passed away a month
before the plan to film him for the program.
In Japan, cremated remains are placed on an altar in
one’s home for 49 days, to pray for the departed soul.
It's been hard for me to come to terms with it.
Grandpa established an elevator company by himself.
I was closer to him than my own parents.
We spoke on the phone every day;
morning, noon and night.
Hi Grandpa, I'm in the middle of a shoot.
I'll call you back, OK.
My grandpa helped me build
a foundation of who I am.
He was the most important person in my life.
Here is his calligraphy room.
In the darkness is light.
from spirit comes life.
Desires This room is the craziest.
Look, he drew on the walls.
There's Mt. Fuji, and pine trees.
He couldn't hold back.
I guess drawing on paper just wasn't enough.
I've only sat in his chair twice.
He probably sat here to think or clear his head.
I've got butterflies now.
When I was in high school, he suddenly swooped in and
said he'd educate me.
Mitsuki’s talent at an early stage.
He wanted to arm her
with faith so that she could
compete in the art industry.
He'd say, "Action comes first.
So, what do you want to do?"
"Um, I want to draw."
"So, what will you do?"
"After drawing, then what will you do?"
And he pushed me like this endlessly.
Eventually, it all started to make sense.
What kind of art did I want to make?
What's my message?
Who am I creating it for?
He made me practice this from the beginning.
It was all out of love.
But it wouldn't be the same
if it came from my parents.
From my grandpa, it was just what I needed.
I really miss him.
He said, "You'll be alright. I've
got nothing left to teach you."
And then he was gone.
Even though I'm like, "I'm just getting started!"
Going through grandpa's passing, I've realized just how short life is.
It's a miracle to be alive.
I couldn't be more grateful, being
able to pursue my dreams.
To me, faith means...
Taking action right away.
My grandpa taught me to do things
right away because life is short.
We should take chances and have no regrets
because we could be gone at any moment.
Our time is limited.
If my grandpa called me now, we'd probably just talk about the usual...
the small victories of the day.
Today is the day we're installing
my work in the building.
This is nice.
I'm displaying some new work
I just finished so I hope people enjoy it.
OMG, my face is huge!
It's beyond my imagination. Totally.
The colors are very vibrant.
And compared to the rest of the scenery,
it really stands out.
These pictures are all drawn with a smartphone.
That's really surprising.
I wouldn't expect that by seeing it.
Yeah, I can feel some energy in that.
I can feel a power coming from her work.
If you're feeling down, it pulls you up so high.
It turns the negatives into positives,
because it's filled with so much passion.
To me, the future is...
Even if my art isn't fully accepted or understood,
I'll enjoy the challenges that brings.
I'll embrace the difficulties as adventure.
I'll keep one foot on the ground, but the rest of
me will be moving onto the next level.
I'm live here and now.