MATZU & TOSHIBA Collaboration

Artist & Brand Pushing Limits, Together

Last week, I had the great fortune of visiting artist Tomokazu Matsuyama’s studio in New York. The Japan-born artist, who goes by “Matzu,” is internationally renowned for his paintings that offer endless intrigue — layers upon layers of different techniques, aesthetics, cultural and art-historical references. Due to his labor-intensive hands-on process that defies their seemingly digital-made appearances, it takes him anywhere between three months up to a year to finish one painting.

View inside the studio with Matzu at the right. Image from artist’s Instagram. Follow Matzu @tomokazumatsuyama

Matzu is extremely passionate and articulate about his art, it was such a treat to discuss his inspirations and process while looking at some of his latest paintings.

It was when we sat down in his office with refreshingly cold green tea, after looking at paintings, that another topic we mutually found exciting emerged: Matzu’s recent collaboration with TOSHIBA. As to be told below, it is a refreshing example of a technology brand communicating its product features in an elegant and memorable manner.

In spring 2015, Toshiba Australia came up with a daring idea to promote an Ultrabook, Toshiba Portégé Z20t, that offers 17-hour battery life. Named ‘Made in 17 Hours,’ the campaign commissioned Matzu to create a suite of artworks on a Portégé within its 17-hour battery life, while en route from Tokyo to Sydney, and immediately mount an exhibition at Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art upon touch-down. An epic challenge for the artist, and daring confidence on Toshiba’s part for its product’s performance.

“The reason I took on this project was because it was pretty much impossible…”
All images above and below: screen shots from

A 4-minute documentary about Matzu’s journey was created as part of Toshiba’s product launch campaign, which followed the artist from the moment he unplugged his Ultrabook’s power in Tokyo to the opening of his Sydney museum exhibition, titled “Made in 17 Hours.” During those 17 hours, the Ultrabook was Matzu’s only tool — pushing him to think “outside the canvas.”

The documentary captures the artist, the creativity, the product, the technology, the promise, and the ‘pushing to the limits’ spirit all in one strong narrative. Plus, if you are familiar with how much lead time it usually takes to put together an exhibition, you’ll find it almost suspenseful to watch this video.

“I gave it absolutely everything.”

Matzu’s artworks went on display in the Quayside Room at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney, as a two-day pop-up exhibition on Wednesday June 24th and Thursday June 25th, 2015.

This campaign successfully helps position Toshiba’s Portégé Z20t where technology and creativity collide in a manner that fuels productivity. And the following three points greatly attribute to the effectiveness of this collaboration:

  1. Maintaining a reductive focus on communicating a single, rather than multiple, product feature — the battery life. Although the documentary does show the artist using the Ultrabook in various ways during the creative development, the 17-hour premise is central to the narrative and emphasized throughout.
  2. Communicating that feature as empowerment (“Look how much can be achieved in 17 hours”) rather than necessary limitations (“This machine loses power after 17 hours”).
  3. Designing the campaign around collaborative content development in which both the branded product and the artist played equally critical roles.


A 30-second advertisement of Made in 17 Hours:

More about artist Tomokazu Matsuyama:

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