NOM&ADA values connection and community. We aspire to share the talents of friends & peers with you. This post marks the beginning of a series of NOM&ADA Q&A's with those in the creative community. Let's collectively fuel honesty, openness, insight and inspiration. To kick us off we've invited someone who is an established store & gallery owner, Katsu Tanaka. He is one of the nicest guys you will ever meet. And in his opinion, May is the best month in Portland.

Hi Katsu, can you please tell us a little about yourself?
I am originally from Japan. I am 38 years of age and have been in Portland,OR for the last 17 years. I own a retail store/gallery called Compound in Portland.
I like what I do as a career, I love people that I work with and people who support our store.
I do not like people who have negative vibes.
My life is pretty simple. 

I hang out and work with people I like, I stay away from people who I do not like.
I work hard. Laugh out loud, and stay away from people who do not like me.

What most inspires you?
Everyday life gives me so much inspiration. All the great inspiration always comes from people. Even dull and ignorant people have one or two great interesting stories to tell.

How did you find yourself getting involved in the art community? Have you always had a passion for art?
I really stumbled up into the art world. When I had a previous shop, all the people I was working with happened to be artists. When I was looking for a new space, they pushed me to open a gallery space inside the store. I had no idea about Art or the art scene.

We admire Compound Gallery's mission to bring together the American art collector and the Japanese artist. What do you appreciate most about the opportunity to give a voice to independent artists?
This mission statement is just a cool statement that we came up with to update the site. We are not really "trying to be a bridge" or anything significant to be in any field, culture or organization. The curator of our gallery, Matt Wagner, and I regularly go back to Japan every year.  Besides from all the artists in the US, we have a very close connection and knowledge of the Japanese Art scene. We are just like, "Dude, this Japanese artist is better than any US artist." I think everyone is a little sick of all the same so-called "famous US artists" anyway.

Is there someone that you most admire?
I admire a lot of people. 
I admire John Jay, who is a global creative director of W+K and happens to have a studio right across from our store. He is so energetic and always hungry for new things. Most of all, he is always so open to everyone.  Every time I talk to him, he always has something that I get exited about. 

How would you explain your personal style?
My personal life is simple. Most of my time is spent cleaning. I get up and clean up my small garden. I go to work and clean up the store. I get home and clean up my room.

Aside from your passion with the store and gallery, what do you enjoy doing on your spare time?
On my day off, I go antique and thrift shopping. I go shopping most of my free time.

Where is your favorite place to travel?
I do not travel that much besides Japan (I go back 3~4 times a year) and LA (I go there 2~3 times a year for work). So, it is very limited. But the place I would love to go right now is South America. I would love to go to Brazil, Argentina and various South American countries in the near future.

There's nothing like delicious food & drinks in good company when visiting new places. Do you have any recommendations?
I think Portland has some amazing restaurants and places to hang out. I often go to Basta, Park Kitchen, Ping, Country Cat to name a few. Of course, there are millions of great spots in Tokyo.

Your travel music playlist must include:
I am very old school and my list is primarily jazz. Female vocals mainly ~ Ella, Julia London, Billy Holiday and so on.
I love Ryuichi Sakamoto and Pink Martini.

Is there anything that you can't travel without?
I cannot go anywhere without my small laptop! I cannot go more than half a day without it.

Can you share with us a favorite find or your most prized possession?
When I started as a vintage clothes dealer, I found millions of items at thrift stores. Back in 1995, we found over a thousand pairs of Air Jordan's. As a matter of fact, back then, Nike was liquidating all the old stocks by giving away these shoes to shelters. We used to go to the shelters and ask homeless people to take off the shoes and paid them $20. We shipped the shoes to Japan and sold them for over $1000. I found every possible Jordan at thrift stores. I found Jordan 5's that were only made into 150 pairs back then. They were made as promotional use and numbered (1/150). I found 2 pairs at the Value Village in Tigard,OR. I think I paid $15. I probably found more vintage shoes than any Japanese living in the US. 
I found a 1920 Levis denim jacket which is priced over $10,000 in Tokyo right now at a thrift store in Salem, OR for $3!
I found 80 Herman Miller shell chairs at a school auction sale for $15 a chair.
I have millions of stories like these.

What advice would you give to aspiring shop/gallery owners?
I would like to say: owning a store is tough. The American dream is not so realistic. 90% of new businesses go away in the first 2 years. 
Love what you do, enjoy everyday work, laugh and smile as much as you can.
Most of the people give up before it really goes bad from fear of losing it or pressure of negative image in the future.

What's your motto?
Love Deeply, Goodbye Lightly and Smile naturally. Life might not be the party we hoped for but while we are here, let's Dance Dance Dance.

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