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Alumni voices: “Finding my passion through trial-and-error”
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Alumni voices: “Finding my passion through trial-and-error”

Tue, Nov 17, 2015
Alumni voices: “Finding my passion through trial-and-error”
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Finding my passion through trial-and-error

Shinpei Takagi, Context Designer


“Despite not being a good student, my dream was to become prime minister (laughs).”

At 23 years old, Shinpei Takagi left a major Japanese advertising agency to establish his own career as a context designer, a type of designer that “provides structure to ideas.” How did Takagi, a less than ideal student, make it to where he is now? It all began with the extracurricular activities he partook in as a Waseda student.

Shinpei’s student days when he defied conventional wisdom and challenged his creativity

Shinpei was not particularly enthusiastic about anything after enrolling in Waseda University. However, an encounter with one of the officially recognized clubs, Sen-i (the Textile Research Group), changed everything.

“At Sen-i, we discussed fashion from various perspectives including historical, ethnological and design, and challenged ourselves to create. I had so much fun discussing fashion with my fellow Sen-i friends every day. My experience at the annual fashion show has something to do with the wealth I enjoy today.”

His process for choosing a theme for the fashion show was completely unusual. The models he selected were ordinary people. He painstakingly examined their behavior and made clothes that matched their lifestyles, and then reexamined the clothes and refined their design.

“It’s only because we were students who had time on our hands that we were able to live with the models and discover how to best make use of our designs. We valued new, unprocessed ideas and came up with concepts from scratch. By giving shape to these concepts, we were able to sharpen our minds. ”

After graduating from Waseda and leaving Hakudo Inc. to branch out on his own, Shinpei continues to be a trailblazer and creative planner that challenges conventional wisdom.

“Working at an advertisement agency involved large-scale projects and was fun. However, I felt that there were limitations to such a large organization that was already set in its ways and procedures. I’m the type of person who wants to immediately join in on trends that I find interesting. I think it is because of this aspect of my personality that I was able to provide strategic support for Kazuma Ieiri’s candidacy in the 2014 Tokyo election.”

In the future, I want to be involved in PR for Japan and the Cabinet as a speechwriter

When it comes to corporate branding, which requires great creativity, Shinpei thinks about “ideas” and “outside.” This is an approach he learned at Hakuhodo Inc. “’Outside’ in this case means outside Hakuhodo Inc. (or outside the company). When creating a company, there is a tendency to rely on previously established methods. This is what we refer to as going “outside” and adopting what others have done, not generating ‘ideas.’ Ideas are a result of looking at things from a new perspective and giving shape to your own thoughts. If it is something that moves your heart, it will involve many people and generate enthusiasm that can change established values.”

Shinpei is using his flexible thought process to drive local and national government public works projects.

Is there anything you wish to tell Waseda students?

“Rack up your ‘score’ of mistakes. I want you to take on outlandish challenges that working adults are too worried to take and find joy in making those mistakes. Do this as much as possible because these activities will help you grow. Once you start working you are not really allowed to make mistakes. There is a saying that “the younger you are, the more mistakes you are allowed to make.” Some of you may be unsure of what you want to do in the future. However, in reality there are very few people who know what they want to do from the get-go. You will eventually find things that you are good at as you explore various activities and help others. Eventually, what you are “required” to do and what you “want” to do will overlap.

Well, what do you want to do going forward?

“I want to write speeches for the prime minister. I wasn’t able to fulfill my dream of becoming prime minister (laughs) but I can create an image for my vision and give it form on a large scale as a speechwriter. Someday I would like to communicate visions of an exciting Japan to the world. Within the next ten years, I will do my best to make this a reality.

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■Shinpei was born in 1987 and joined Hakuhodo Inc. after graduating from the School of Social Sciences at Waseda University in 2010. He left Hakuhodo Inc. after a little over a year to become an entrepreneur. He has been involved in a variety of activities and groups including the 2014 Tokyo gubernatorial election campaign, One Voice Campaign (a grass-roots movement contributing to the removal of the ban on Internet campaigning), Liberty House, and Tokyo Yoru Hills (a share house in Tokyo). In April 2015, he launched NEWPEACE Inc.

Original article from Waseda Weekly


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