In his latest stretch of work, Nakayama, who was interviewed for Sign Painters, is experimenting with techniques that tweak the framework even more than his first variations on old posters and classic lettering. A recent exhibition at the Orchard skate shop in Allston (where Nakayama's mural near the half pipe is a permanent fixture) displayed a series of heavy-duty handsaws. Painted freehand using his go-to pinstripe brush, they're adorned with the sort of font work you'd see above saloon doors, or in the window of a 1950s barber shop.

Nakayama has achieved a level of success that others might be jealous of if everybody didn't simply adore him. Through the Woodward Gallery, where his Manhattan show is coming up, he recently hung a six-panel stencil piece at the Bank of America building in SoHo. Then there's the April sequel at Lot F to last year's hugely successful show with Woulfe. There, among other things, he'll premiere a series of signs that he designed for homeless acquaintances to panhandle with. Experimenting with guys who hang out in the alleyway behind Lot F, Nakayama has been taking messages from their cardboard jobs and transforming them with multi-colored crafted lettering so as to hopefully increase their take. 

>> PHOTOSKenji Natayama's work <<

Through it all, Nakayama also works a full-time day job as a sneaker designer for Converse in North Andover. Since he's implementing other peoples' ideas there, he doesn't consider the gig to be part of his artistic repertoire, though in 2008 he did customize a pair of All-Stars for the company's centennial 1HUND(RED) series. That's his character: though finally comfortable with making art for art's sake, his work ethic still keeps Nakayama grinding out work for hire as he pursues his next paycheck. "All I could do when I got here was work hard in order to make things work for me," he says. "I guess I'm still trying to do that."

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Related: Photos: Kenji Nakayama's work, All over Boston, artists, radicals, and entrepreneurs are finding new ways to work — together, Photos: Renzo Piano's new wing at the Gardner Museum, More more >
  Topics: Lifestyle Features , STREET ART, Signage, art features,  More more >
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