Artist of the Week

Bailey Hikawa

December 11, 2018

Bailey Hikawa lives and works in Los Angeles. She is an artist, designer, art director and collaborator who creates art objects, sculptural immersive installation and sets for theater, film and advertising.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do.

My path to what I do has been a winding road packed full of unexpected material and collaborative turns that has landed me with an identity somewhere between artist and designer. I studied Painting at California College of the Arts in San Francisco. Right out of school I worked for a scenic designer in a theater who inspired me to see the entire room as a painting. My work slowly evolved from painting on canvas to sculpture to immersive installation and I eventually began to design sets of my own. I’ve been involved in so many kinds of projects – from performative sculptural collaboration to art directing a feature film, painting exhibitions to theater and experimental films. Now I’m about to launch a line of sculptural phone cases named KAME…who knew?

Immersive Installation at Vacancy in Los Angeles

Do you have any exciting projects coming up?

I am beyond thrilled/excited/scared/excited to be launching KAME: a line of sculptural and functional phone cases hand-fabricated by yours truly in my studio in Los Angeles. KAME means “turtle” in Japanese, which I see as a metaphor for the shell of a brain. It is also the manifestation of following my interest in the physical activation of an art object. I’ve always been drawn to everyday materials, like bread or vinyl flooring, so it’s exciting to release something that can be multiplied and enjoyed by many.

How did this process begin and when/where can we find these pieces?

This process began about two years ago, one aimless day in the studio when I decided to glue a piece of wood to the back of my phone case (since I’m sure I didn’t know what else to do with myself.) When I returned to the studio the next day, the case was standing straight up and looked interesting. I started wearing this absurdly large wooden phone case and got a lot of varying reactions from people. That was evidence enough that something was there in the idea and these reactions ultimately inspired me to follow the idea through. An object that is at once foreign, familiar and functional is something I had been looking for in installation, theater and film. I was surprised to find it in product design. Over the past two years, I have made hundreds of prototypes. I am now launching KAME with 2 designs and plan to release more over time.

KAME will be available online at And select stores across the US.

Chicago People: KAME will be available at TUSK, Chicago!

Follow KAME on the gram @kamebyhikawa

What is inspiring your material and design choices right now?

Currently neck deep in mold making, my material choices have largely been governed by my design demands. Now that I am so far into this process, I’m finding that my material choices are opening up. Worlds of possibilities for future objects I had never imagined possible are coming forward and the phone cases may just the beginning of a much larger path.

Tell us more about your collaborative practice and how this differs from your individual work?

I collaborate with Scotty Wagner on a multi-media performance project we call This collaboration is a melding of minds in which our ideas about technology, contemporary identities, the role of our phones in daily life, machine automation, Artificial Intelligence and other amusing existential issues of our time are worked out. The collaboration manifests as absurdist time-based work that feels something like live cinema and theater all in one. is sometimes an uncomfortably deep and also equally weighted collaboration that results in work neither of us could create on our own. video still of “Trial Child: Nurture a Better Nature”

What is your favorite thing about working collaboratively?

I love the process of project discussion. I get deep satisfaction in thinking of bad ideas and breaking down concepts with others. Solitary studio time however, is equally crucial to my working process. If I can include both collaboration and solitude in a single work day, I am happy. I find that collaboration makes my work bigger while solitude makes it stronger.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Always buy brand name tape and batteries.

What is it like living and working in LA?

Being an artist in LA is like being a fish swimming in a pool of material infinity. The Hollywood industry has and probably always will have a dominant effect on the underlying culture of Los Angeles. It means that, ANYTHING you could possibly imagine to fabricate, make, develop, conceive, direct, manifest, paint, sculpt, find…well it’s here in some capacity.

For example, if I wanted to order a custom fabricated water slide made out of traditionally woven red candy licorice, install the slide in the middle of a desert, get a ride to this slide in a rose quartz (PANTONE 13-1520) Maserati, make a short film directed by my colonic energy healer about my journey to this slide, well in LA, it’s possible by Christmas.

What was the last exhibition you saw that stuck out to you?

I am going to answer this question with my favorite exhibition I ever saw, which is Pierre Huyghe’s retrospective at LACMA in 2015. It felt like an alien landscape physically manifested using materials of our earthly world.

Do you collect anything?

I once broke a ceramicists heart, ever since I’ve collected amateur ceramics. I have a lot of effed up mugs.