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Flower Artist Grows a Garden of Leaf People

We talked to Azuma Makoto about how (and why) he's turning people into shrubbery.
April 22, 2015, 11:30pm
Azuma Makoto's LEAF MAN (2015), Hederaberry. Images: Shiinoki

A dream about a diminutive figure with human legs and the body of a bush visited florist-turned-sculptor Azuma Makoto in 2008. He immediately turned the surreal vision into a series of sculptures called LEAF MAN. Seven years later, after Makoto has sent his floral creations into space, encased them in ice, and set them afloat on the open sea, the creature once again invaded his headspace. Using a fresh set of plants, he's given LEAF MAN several new suits. While they might be wrong for your next business meeting, they do make great camoflage (except at your next business meeting).


We reached out to Azuma Makoto to find out how and why LEAF MAN sprouted anew.


The Creators Project: When did you first see the LEAF MAN? What does this figure symbolize? 

Azuma Makoto: I saw the LEAF MAN for the first time in 2008. I don’t know why they appear in my dream and what does this symbolize but I think it is kind of a feeling of distance between me and plants. Usually it’s busy time I met them in my dream while sleeping.

What do you love about working with flowers, plants, and leaves?

There are various charms of flowers and plants, and its expression changes every moment.  I think that sharpening the antenna inside myself leads to catch the beauty of flowers and plants that only exist for a moment.

How do you bring an idea to life? What does your creative process look like?

I always develop ideas from the inspiration that I get when I confront flowers and plants. I also take a walk every day around my studio and atelier, and feel a small change in seasons and atmosphere of each day.

The speed of flowers and plants growing is much slower than the one of human. Therefore, it is necessary to be able to feel the difference sensitively at every moment including those when flowers bloom and wither.

What do you hope people take away from the work?

For me, it is important that how to implant plants into people’s mind and to enhance the existence value of them.

This is the biggest challenge and it has been the same until today.


What are you working on next?

I would like to keep creating pieces that would expand the possibilities of plants and to have many people look at them around the world.

(L) Asebi, (R) Tokusa


Taniwatari, Bronzeleaf

Greenallow, Selloum


See more of Azuma Makoto's work on his website.


Artist Plants a Red Flower Tower in the Sea

This Artist is Trapping Flowers in Blocks of Ice

A Brave Bonsai Goes Where No Plant Has Gone Before