Mieko Murao was born in Tokyo, Japan. She established her own graphic design firm “Natural Graphic” at the age of 19, sold the company to a web development firm “Jambase”, and established Graphnetwork with her business partner. Worked as a CEO of Graphnetwork from 2001 to 2011, then moved to LA to expand her business globally.
To obtain an investment visa, she established a company and purchased a sushi restaurant in Hollywood, and redesigned the structure into a modern Japanese izakaya “Shiro Kuro”. She sold the izakaya for profit (5 times the original purchase price), invested it in purchasing an Italian restaurant 3 times larger in capacity than the previous, and turned it into a Japanese-Italian fusion restaurant called “Bloom”. She sold the restaurant again for profit and reinstated her main purpose for coming to the US, to expand her business using design.
Things she realized doing businesses in the U.S. were the different set of rules and cultures, and new knowledge that needed to be obtained. She recognized that education would have complemented some of the things she had learned on the front lines of business. And education could enhance her experience and efficiency. The realization compelled her to take classes at the University of The People. And after obtaining her associate degree, she transferred to UC Berkeley.
She completed her bachelor’s degree at UC Berkeley, while raising her son and maintaining her business. She is currently on a path pursuing graduate school to fulfill her intellectual curiosity.
MIKO ( Mieko Murao )
My art practice utilizes conventions of design to subvert expectations of the viewer, as well as invite the viewer to question assumptions. Drawing from my experience as a professional designer, I have utilized both para-fictional strategies and unexpected content, to scrutinize systems of capitalism, unethical business conducts, and racism. My research interests include racial formation studies, color theory, and business and economic orders because they are entrenched in our society. I want to deeply learn about these systems in order to make change. Western art and design culture has long been narrating expectations and tastes, which are rooted within the economic apparatus of privilege, access, class and power. The inquiries at the core of my art practice question how and for whom, art and design are created, and furthermore, whom do they serve to empower?
I often make art about “business” because I’m extremely interested in the degree of impact it makes on us. How one thinks/acts/purchases are closely tied to their extent of success and that paradigm seems inevitable under a capitalistic society. As a business owner and an artist, I am fascinated with the workings of such system, and it is crucial that I understand it, in order to pursue either alternatives or improvements.
What would it look like for an artist to operate outside of the conventional art setting, and how might the artist in a business setting disrupt dogmatic operations?
These are integral questions to my art, and my study of business.