076: Protecting Artistic Integrity While Building a Thriving Creative Agency in Tokyo w/ Daniel Harris Rosen

podcast Oct 27, 2020

Daniel Harris Rosen is a bilingual creative director based in Tokyo, with over 25 years of experience in the Japanese arts scene. Originally a visual artist himself, he is also a curator, VJ, film director, and art writer for The Japan Times & other esteemed media outlets. Daniel first formally studied art at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and went on to earn his PhD at Tama Art University in Tokyo. In 2006 while still a student, he joined the nascent artist collective Rinpa Eshidan which exploded into an Internet sensation, garnering over 120 million collective hits on YouTube.  

Through his time with Rinpa Eshidan, he gained experience handling commercial work from corporate clients such as KDDI, YouTube, MINI Cooper etc. Meanwhile, Daniel also pursued his own artistic career in contemporary art, exhibiting and selling his artwork worldwide at venues including the Honolulu Museum of Fine Art and Art Fair Taipei. 

 In 2010, after earning his PhD in fine arts from Tama Art University, he founded TokyoDex, a multifaceted creative agency that encompasses all of his artistic endeavors. Daniel’s creative vision, extensive network in the Japanese art community, understanding of the Japanese culture and international standards of business make him a highly sought creative director for exciting art-based projects in Tokyo and around the globe. 

 The start of Daniel’s art career began at Kansai Gaidai taking art and pottery classes. Although he started ceramic arts he got more into copywriting and ended up working in arts management.  

Eventually he began to take his own art more seriously. But he settled on aiming to build a bridge between corporations and artists as an art agency.  

Differences between an art agency and an advertising agency. 

Along the way he has had to study and learn about leadership and managing people. 

Japan tends to be a risk averse society and things can take a long time to get going. But the flip side of that is once you get the “Yes” then you know it’s going to happen.  

Is creativity encouraged in Japanese society? As creativity becomes more valued here in Japan he has seen some of the most creative people he has ever met.  

Business culture may be more averse to creativity and innovation, but individually people are exploring and developing their creativity.  

Creating your supportive entrepreneurial community. 

Adjusting and pivoting without knowing how long this situation will last. 

Understand the landscape first before we charge ahead in any one direction.  

Changing landscapes. 

Starting a personal art project 

This year has provided the head pace and time to take some time to recenter and reevaluate personal goals. Hopefully a better work/life balance will stay with us after this pandemic is over.  

It’s important for newer entrepreneurs to play the long game here. For better or worse, you need to put your time in and understand Japanese culture.  

Japan is about relationships, it’s about trust unlike other places like China where it’s more of a wild west mentality.  

Look for allies and do what you say you are going to do.  

Integrity is something to be respected.  




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