Yoshitomo Nara, Happy Hour Shonen Knife, 1992-2000. Colored pencil and pencil on paper, 4 3/4 x 4 3/4" (12.1 x 12.1 cm). Fractional and promised gift of David Teiger in honor of Agnes Gund. © 2011 Yoshitomo Nara. Courtesy of The Museum of Modern Art, New York (411.2002.11).
Far more than anything else, Yoshitomo Nara has credited music as having the most influence over his artwork, particularly the less mainstream, more punk rock groups that he began listening to in the mid-to-late 1970s. As evidenced by the frequent appearance of song lyrics in his works and their titles, Nara was enthralled by the anti-establishment spirit of punk and New Wave, identifying with its emotional intensity. As Miwako Tezuka explains:
The physical and temporal immediacy that Nara found in the execution of drawing made it well suited for the spontaneous expression of raw emotion. It is this nature of live engagement in Nara's work that directly aligns him with musicians, whose trade allows them a physical relationship with their medium, sound...Nara created his very first album art in 1990 for The Birdy Num Nums, active in the German New Wave music scene of the early 1990s. During the mid-1990s he gained increasing exposure within the art scene, with gallery exhibitions in Germany and in Japan, while his music mania became known to some Japanese punk bands, such as Shonen Knife and The Star Club, who then commissioned him to create their album covers.
Through his love of music, Nara was able to connect and appeal to wide audience from not only the art world, where he was gaining recognition, but the music world as well.
 Miwako Tezuka, "Music On My Mind: The Art and Phenomenon of Yoshitomo Nara," in Yoshitomo Nara: Nobody's Fool, ed. Melissa Chiu and Miwako Tezuka (New York: Asia Society Museum in association with Abrams, 2010), 93.
 Ibid., 93.
 Ibid., 93-94.
 Asia Society online, "The Exhibition: Music," Yoshitomo Nara: Nobody's Fool, http://sites.asiasociety.org/yoshitomonara/exhibition/music/ (accessed September 22, 2011).