Otaku Obscura: a tribute art show to Japanese animated films

Joshua Budich does a sketch of a donut on one of his prints for a fan. (Lorisa Salvatin/ Xpress Magazine)
Joshua Budich does a sketch of a donut on one of his prints for a fan. (Lorisa Salvatin/ Xpress Magazine)

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Photos & Words by Lorisa Salvatin

Not even the sweet sounds of Hardly Strictly Bluegrass can keep anime fans and art enthusiasts from lining up half an hour or more before Josh Budich‘s San Francisco debut of his exhibition at the Spoke Art Gallery. But what else can be expected from what people may call, Otaku, or individuals with obsessive interests? The Maryland-based artist shares and portrays his passion for anime and art in his latest exhibition, properly named “Otaku Obscura.”

“I was a child of Saturday morning cartoons,” says Bundich, explaining that he started getting into anime to try to get away from the more conventional cartoons playing on television, such as “Looney Tunes.” As he grew out of kids’ cartoons into his teens, he yearned for something with a little more punch.

Budich began watching the anime Akira in his freshman year of high school. And after discovering other animes like Robo Punch and Dragon Ball Z, he was hooked. Such classic anime would inspire the current exhibition that is displayed in the Spoke Art Gallery until Oct. 24.

He wanted his art to bring people back to familiar animes that invoked a sense of nostalgia, allowing them to say “Oh! I remember that!” “Otaku Obscura” includes familiar screen printed images from Neon Genesis Evangelion, Princess Mononoke, Ghost in the Shell, Akira, and My Neighbor Totoro.

“We’ve barely scratched the surface,” said Budich, on using silk screen as his method of art. He points out that while screen printing has the ability to bring out the colors and vibrance of his work, he also wants to show his appreciation for the growing culture of screen printers. With every piece he aimed to combine anime and art.

“I wanted to pay homage to the original art,” says Bundich.

While the larger pieces depict more scenic frames from anime, such as Mei and The Wolf Stole Her Soul, and Now She Lives to Kill Me, his 12×16 artworks are more character based, taking art from manga and making portraits of Motoko Kusanagi from Ghost in the Shell and Faye Valentine from Cowboy Bebop. The Otaku inside him comes out when he talks about how his print, “Mei,” was inspired by his daughter.

“I’m really happy with all of it,” as he looks through the windows at his work.