TOTORO FOREST PROJECT Charity Auction
The Totoro Forest Project is an international charity effort to save Sayama Forest, also known as Totoro Forest. This endangered sanctuary on the outskirts of Tokyo is where director Hayao Miyazaki got the inspiration for his much loved character “Totoro.”
September 6 Auction at Pixar Animation Studios to Showcase Artwork Inspired by Acclaimed Film Director Hayao Miyazaki’s Classic MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO
The world’s top film animators, comic book artists and illustrators have come together to create original works of art inspired by the iconic animated film MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO (Tonari no Totoro, 1988) for an auction to benefit the Totoro No Furusato (Totoro’s Homeland) National Fund – also known as the Totoro Forest Fund. The organization is dedicated to preserving Sayama Forest, a large park outside Tokyo that inspired the beloved film by respected Japanese movie director Hayao Miyazaki. The Totoro Forest Project Charity Auction will be held Saturday, September 6, at Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, California.
The Sayama Forest, which inspired the landscape of MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO, occupies nearly 15 square miles of cultivated forest, rice paddy fields, wetlands and grassland amidst an encroaching sea of urban development. The area has been the subject of preservation efforts since the 1970s, but because land is at such a premium in the Tokyo area, it is under constant threat of development. The Totoro No Furusato National Fund was established in 1990 following the success of MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO and the attention the film drew to the Sayama Forest.
“Professor Tashihiko Ando, chairman of the Totoro No Furusato National Fund, has stated that Hayao Miyazaki has described MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO as a movie that portrayed a paradise for children,” says Dice Tsutsumi, an art director at Pixar Animation Studios and one of the organizers of the Totoro Forest Project Charity Auction. “The Sayama Forest is the embodiment of that paradise. The auction is a wonderful opportunity for artists to help preserve this historic forest for future generations of children, and pay tribute to Miyazaki-san and the film that has been so inspirational to their art.”
More than 200 artists from around the world have created nearly 210 original paintings, illustrations and sculptures for the Totoro Forest Project Charity Auction. A high quality book featuring all the works of art will be available for purchase at the event. Additionally, a selection of the artwork will be featured in a special exhibition September 20 to February 8, 2009 at the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco.
Pixar artists Dice Tsutsumi, Enrico Casarosa and Ronnie Del Carmen, and Yukino Pang of the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, lead the Totoro Forest Project Charity Auction organizing committee.
Totoro Forest Project Overview
Oscar-winning director Hayao Miyazaki, one of the most admired and prolific directors within the animation community, has delighted and inspired artists and audiences around the world. His body of work includes critically-acclaimed masterpieces such as KIKI’S DELIVERY SERVICE (Majo no Takkyubin, 1989) and SPIRITED AWAY (Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi, 2001). However, MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO is perhaps the most recognized. No wonder Totoro, the star of the film, is the mascot of Studio Ghibli, Miyazaki’s animation studio.
When the animation community found out that the Sayama Forest, the real-life inspiration for MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO, was threatened by urban sprawl, a small group of artists decided to take action by organizing the Totoro Forest Project.
The Totoro Forest Project is a fundraising exhibition/auction to benefit the Japanese non-profit foundation “Totoro No Furusato National Fund”, which us leading efforts to preserve and protect Sayama Forest. Miyazaki helped to establish the organization and plays an integral role in the environmental movement. These artists hope to bring together other artists around the world to inspire social and environmental change.
Many prominent animation and illustration artists in the world proudly recognize Miyazaki’s influence and inspiration in their own work. Already, over two hundred internationally-recognized artists have created original artwork, thereby paying tribute to Miyazaki and contributing to his cause. These artist come from animation, comic book, illustration and fine art worlds, and include many artists from Blue Sky, Disney, DreamWorks, Lucasfilm, Pixar, and Sony Pictures Animation.
In creating these original works, their assignment was to visually answer, “What is your Totoro?” A Totoro is a mysterious character, spirit, monster or creature that is only visible to children. The organizers challenged the artists to use the feelings, memories, and ideas that film inspired to create their own “Totoro”.
The organizing committee was awed by the results. Varying as widely as their talented creators, the artwork ranges from character-based illustrations to fantastical landscapes. Each masterpiece is a unique glimpse into the artist’s creative psyche. As a collection, the body of work evokes and conveys the sense of wonder experienced in childhood.
The Benefit Charity Auction
September 6, 2008
Pixar Animation Studios campus
1200 Park Avenue, Emeryville, CA
Cocktails will be served
All proceeds will go to the Totoro Forest National Fund. The event will see artists and collectors from around the world coming together under Pixar’s roof.
A high quality catalogue/book featuring all the artwork will be available at the event. The book will also be available shortly after the show, and can be ordered from the The Totoro Forest Project.
A selection of the auction’s artwork will be featured as a special exhibition.
Cartoon Art Museum of San Francisco
Exhibition A: September 20-December 7, 2008
Exhibition B: November 6, 2008- February 20, 2009
Opening reception to be held in November.
Totoro Forest Project Core Committee Biographies
Born and raised in Tokyo, Dice moved to Ny in 1993. After graduating from School of Visual Arts in 1998, he started his career as a staff illustrator for Lucas Learning Ltd. in San Francisco. He then worked at Blue Sky Studios for seven years as a visual development/color key artist on blockbuster film projects such as ICE AGE, ROBOTS, and HORTON HEARS A WHO. He is now an art director at Pixar Animation Studios.
Dice has actively been pursuing his illustration career outside of animation as well. His graphic novel Noche y Dia is part of the critcally acclaimed anthology Out of Picture. He is currently working on his second graphic novel, Dream of Kyosuke for Out of Picture issue 2. He has also been involved with a few potential children’s book projects.
His plein air oil paintings have been featured in numerous gallery exhibitions. His last show at Windham Fine Arts Gallery was a huge success with nationally praised painter Xiangyuan Jie.
Enrico Casarosa lives with his and newborn daughter in beautiful San Francisco. He has been working in the animation industry for more than ten years, drawing storyboards for feature films.
Currently a story artist at Pixar Animation Studios, he continues to find folds of time for personal projects: drawing silly autobiographical comics, making illustrations for exihibitions, designing art books and keeping up with his blog.
Whenever possible he escapes on a trip with a trusty sketchbook and a set of watercolors. Enrico is the founder of “SketchCrawl”, a worldwide drawing marathon event. He is soon releasing a new book, Venice Chronicles.
Born and raised in Japan, Yukino Pang began her adventures in the United States as a display artist in San Francisco. This led to being a rural development advisor, a role in which she taught craft art to a local women’s group in Zimbabwei where she was chased by elephants and hippos. Back in the states, she became a flight attendant, where she enjoyed her flight priveledges until she found her present job at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco.
In Japan, she started a nonprofit organization, “Art Frog”, involving art to help charities. She loves the idea of using art as her tool to make the world a better place for all.
Ronnie del Carmen
Ronnie del Carmen joined Pixar Animation Studios in 2000 and served as a story supervisor on FINDING NEMO and is currently finishing the same duties on UP. He has been working at the studio as a writer, production designer (ONE MAN BAND), character designer and story artist.
A Fine Arts graduate of the University of Santo Tomas in the Philippines, he has worked on all of Dreamworks’ 2D films and Warner Bros. Animation’s BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES, to name a few. He has received a Daytime Emmy Award as an animation director, and Annie Award for outstanding achievement in animated feature storyboarding, and an Eisner Award for best single issue in 1995.
Together, Ronnie and friends Tadahiro Uesugi and Enrico Casarosa created the book Three Trees Make A Forest for Ginko Press. He also illustrated books for DC and Dark Horse and self-publishes his own, Paper Biscuit. He never leaves home without a sketchbook and can be found drawing on them around a cafe. He responds well to dry cappuccinos.
Q&A with Dice Tsutsumi
Question: How did the auction come about?
Dice: I saw the news about the struggle Totoro no Furusato Fund was having last year. I felt like we had to do something. There are so many people in the animation/comic/illustration field whose work was heavily influenced and inspired by Miyazaki’s work and I literally felt we owed him for all the inspirations. I happened to be going back to Japan around that time and planning to visit Studio Ghibli and I mentioned about the idea to them to get their blessing.
As soon as I came back to the States, I brought my friends Enrico Casarosa, Ronnie del Carmen and Yukino Pang into this mix to organize this charity auction.
Q: What is the Totoro Forest Trust Fund?
Dice: Totoro No Furusato (Totoro’s Homeland) National Fund – also known as the Totoro Forest Fund is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving Sayama Forest which inspired the landscape of My Neighbor Totoro, a film by Hayao Miyazaki.
The forest has been the subject of preservation efforts since the 1970s, but because land is at such a premium in the Tokyo area, it is under constant threat of development. The Totoro No Furusato National Fund was established in 1990 following the success of MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO and the attention the film drew to the Sayama Forest. Hayao Miyazaki himself has been one of the biggest supporters of the organization all these years.
Q: How did you get so many great artists to participate?
Dice: I think there are two things…
*Hayao Miyazaki is such an influential and well respected figure in not just animation but illustration and comics today. There are just so many artists who want to give tribute to the master film maker.
*On top of their desire to show their appreciation to Hayao Miyazaki, A lot of artists wanted to be a part of this great project that involved so many other great artists. Artists do their best work when they are inspired. We kept everyone’s in-progress work open to each other on the artists-only website where anyone can see what anyone else was working on. Everyone inspired each other and pushed each other’s work up a notch or two. It was one of those synergy effects in the end.
Q: Has Miyazaki been involved in the auction in any way?
Dice: We made sure we wouldn’t bother Miyazaki-san especially since he was in the middle of the production of his new film PONYO ON A CLIFF. While we had a blessing from Studio Ghibli, it would have defeated the purpose if we asked him to do anything for this. This had to come from us who respected Hayao Miyazaki and who cared about the birth place of Totoro.
In the end, though, Miyazaki sent us his beautiful watercolor painting with his big “thank you” which made us all happier than ever.
Sayama Forest and Totoro No Furusato (Totoro’s Homeland) National Fund
The Sayama Forest, which inspired the landscape of Hayao Miyazaki’s film, MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO, is located on the outskirts of greater Tokyo, one of the world’s largest and most populous metropolitan areas. Occupying roughly 13.5 square miles of greenery, in what is oherwise a sea of urban development, it is a mix of cultivated forest, rice paddy fields, wetlands, grassland, and villages known as satoyama. This area has been the subject of preservation efforts since the 1970’s, but because land is at such a premium in the Tokyo area, it is under constant threat of encroaching develpoment.
Satoyama has been the country’s archetypal landscape of rural life for the past several centuries. It supports many plant and animal species that are culturally significant in Japan, and that do not thrive as readily in other habitats. However, as Japan has become a more urban society, development and the movement away from small scale agriculture has led to the rapid disappearance or deterioration of the satoyama landscape- and with it, many plants and animals integral to Japan’s environmental heritage. The campaign to save the sayama forest is thus, not only about preserving a major piece of green space in one of the world’s largest urban areas but, also of great symbolic importance to the environmental movement in Japan.
Following the success of MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO and the attention it drew to the traditional satoyama landscape, the National Trust of Totoro No Furusato (Totoro’s Homeland) was established in 1990. Starting with seed funds contributed by five initial supporters, including Hayao Miyazaki, the Trust began a multi-pronged attempt to preserve the area for future generations. Shortly over a year later, the Trust was able to make its first purchase of land for permanent conservation. In 1998, the National Trust group was incorporated as Totoro No Furusato Fund.
Today, the organization divides its efforts between fundraising for further land acquisition, environmental research, and public outreach and education programs, including community-based conservation and care of the sayama forest. Since opening its doors in 1990, the foundation has successfully raised over 3 million dollars and gained over 15 hundred members.
Grassroots environmental activism is still an imerging phenomenon in Japan, and the Totoro No Furusato Fund is at the forefront of local efforts to preserve this uniquely Japanese ecosystem. It is hoped that efforts like the Totoro Forest Project will bring attention to the cause and help develop greater popular support for the group’s work. ” Seeing this project take shape has been very exciting,” said professor Toshihiko Ando, the current chair of the organization. “When I spoke with Hayao Miyazaki recently, he described MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO as a movie that portrayed a paradise for children. We feel that the partnership of art and the environmental movement is central to our mission of preserving such environments for todays chiuldren and the children of the future.”
MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO
MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO (Tonari no Totoro) is an animated film produced by Studio Ghibili and written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki.
The story follows two girls, Mei and Satsuki, who move to the countryside with their father after their mother is hospitalized. There, the children encounter and befriend the local nature spirits: dust sprites, the catbus and the forest spirit, Totoro, himself (as well as his smaller colleagues). The forest and its surrounding fields and wetlands are depicted so vividly and affectionately that it is not surprising to discover they are based on a real place: the Sayama Forest, which borders Miyazaki’s home city of Tokorozawa on the outskirts of Tokyo.
The human relationship with nature is a significant theme of many of Miyazaki’s films, from NAUSICAA OF THE VALLEY OF THE WIND to PRINCESS MONONOKE through PONYO ON A CLIFF BY THE SEA, and Miyazaki has said that he spent thirteen years thinking about the forest setting of MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO before making the film. The depth of that relationship with place, already palpable in the viewing, takes on additional meaning when one learns of the film’s real-life inspiration.