Meet River Takada!
Q: Tell us the story behind RIVTAK.
A: RIVTAK, is very much an extension of my art therapy practice and I love to share my creativity and encourage others to join me! For exclusive RIVTAK projects, I stick to remnants, upcycled, and second hand materials when I can manage, it takes the pressure off making something perfect every time when I’m starting with reclaimed materials.
I love expressing my individuality with fashion, I’ve been making clothing and playing dress up ever since I was a little kid thanks to my mom, Kazuko, teaching me to sew when I was in elementary school. When I was 17 years old, I moved to Tokyo for a year, lived with my grandparents and worked at a neighborhood cafe. That’s when I really became obsessed with wearable art fashion, upcycling vintage clothing, product design, fashion photography, and merchandising. I knew I wanted to be a textile artist, hoping some day people would be inspired by my work.
I’ve taken my passion and combined it with my fascination with folk arts-and-crafts—learning to weave, dye, print, and sew. I love how making things can bring a community together. Over the years I’ve worked freelance with many institutions, brands and companies doing private label work, collaborations, and workshops. I like when my skills can help bring someone’s vision into existence and spark ideas.
Q: How did you start working with Counter Culture Coffee?
A: Durham is a small town! I’ve been in the Durham creative scene for 8+ years and have been connected with the team. Me and my husband Adam are coffee lovers and Counter Culture Coffee fans! I was thrilled when Counter Culture Coffee's Creative Director reached out to me over quarantine to work on this project—it made me feel like the creative energies were bringing us back together!
Q: Tell us about your ice-dyeing process for The Slurps Up Tee!
A: Counter Culture Coffee came to me with a clear vision of colors and design, and I brought my style and method. As for the ice dyeing process, it’s a loose and exact science if you know what I mean—there are 100 variables and that’s what makes it exciting and interesting. There are a handful of things that can go wrong, and on a large scale that can cost time and money. A certain amount of not having expectations is required, and being delighted with whatever the dye, fabric, and water decide to do together.
The Slurps Ups Tee got pushed back a bit further in the year than I usually work outside, and it did funny things that I didn’t expect when it came to the amount of time it took for the ice to melt since it was cold outside. Unexpected challenges are an adventure right? Every time is a learning experience. Though I’ve been dyeing fabric for 12+ years, I’ve only been ice dyeing for 3+ years. All colors are made of other colors, so even though we were going for more black, the dye had a lot of blue in it and that color showed up around the edges of the black and grey. Totally unexpected design, but I love it!
Q: What is a project are you most proud of and why?
A: Any project I manage to finish and share brings me pride. I’m really good at distracting myself, sabotaging timelines, and procrastinating. I might be a serial project starter. So, since I just finished this project against the time crunch, the massive scale of 200 tees was a lot and I love volume. I’m proud that I just did it. There was definitely some self doubt, but once I got over that, it was a dye party!
Q: What inspires you?
A: The materials I find to work with. I usually wait for materials to come to me before I start thinking about the end result. I love looking back at art from the 1920s-1970s. Thankfully there is documentation of it. I draw a lot of visual inspiration from architecture, shapes working within nature, and other people’s creations like video, music, and books. I’m an avid consumer of the world around me, I love to people-watch.
Q: Are you a morning person or night owl?
A: A little bit of neither. I feel like I have a few fleeting hours in the middle of the day I can get work done, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. usually, the rest of the time is pretty foggy, pre-coffee hours and night mode.
Q: What’s your go-to road trip snack?
A: Pumpernickel bagel chips, dark chocolate peanut M&M’s, Cheerwine, Bojangles or Cook Out.
Q: What is your favorite coffee drink?
A: I like a dark-roasted and smooth coffee. Depending on what I’ve got planned for the day, I love: a cappuccino or cortado with oat milk (depends on how many sips I’m feeling). If I have time to drink a whole cup I like to make coffee at home in a moka pot and I put a splash of creamy oat milk and sugar in it. In the summertime, I love cold brew coffee milk (1:1) we recently got the Toddy brewer.
Q: What do you do to recharge?
A: Eat food, drink water, talk to friends, move my body, play with a non-work related creative project, cook, make clothing for myself, draw, paint, collage, etc. Social Media detox every once in a while.
Q: What do you want people to know about you?
A: I share a lot of my art and process online and I love to connect over art (and coffee). I love getting creative with other people, for the past 9 years I have taught tons of workshops and I can’t wait to do that again! Maybe one day Counter Culture will host a community craft day and I’ll get to teach something like tie dye!
Q: What’s something you’re looking forward to?
A: I daydream about those days we could roll up to our favorite coffee shop or bar and run into 10 people you want to see and catch up with! Also can’t wait to attend a dance party again, and travel somewhere new.
Photo credit: Shoot With Bliss