Big in Japan: The Illustrator 30 (Part Two)
As Adobe Illustrator turns 30, the interview series Illustrator 30_30, by Adobe Creative Station Japan, is celebrating by profiling 30 inspiring young creatives from Japan—all of whom use Illustrator in diverse fields and innovative ways. As Illustrator moves into “middle age,” it’s artists like these who will keep it young.
Read on to meet four of these young creatives, see their art, and learn how they work (and read the first article in this series here). Each interviewee was also asked to use Illustrator to embellish his or her photo portrait with original artwork and designs.
For the full-length Japanese-language interviews with these artists, visit Adobe Creative Station Japan.
Inspired by fashion, jazz and architecture, Taro Uryu illustrates stylish women clad in futuristic clothing. His work has appeared in Shiseido’s Hanatsubaki magazine, as well as department store windows, and continues to inspire the Japanese fashion world.
How do you create your work?
I sketch out my ideas with a pencil first, and as soon as I lock down the composition, I start drawing with my mouse. Sometimes I scan my sketches into my computer, but I try not to. I want to create with a hand-drawn feeling. I want to do something cool like an improvised performance, because I really like jazz. Even with digital drawing, I want to keep elements of my hands and soul in my pieces. For me, Bézier curves have to be made with a mouse. When I set anchor points and stretch out handles, it feels like I’m using my hands. It’s almost like the mouse becomes my hand and I’m carving a sculpture.
Interaction designer Takuma Nakata bridges technology and humans with his film and digital installation work. Takuma has worked across the globe, placing second in the LPM Rome VJ Tournament and joining the Dutch media art collective Born Digital.
You’re based in Kyoto, but you have a very international perspective. How did that come to be?
My father had a job that forced us to relocate a lot, so after I was born in Japan, we immediately moved to Brazil, then Senegal, and then Indonesia. We had local helpers living with us, so our home was always full of different languages. I started using my father’s Mac when I was in elementary school. No matter where we were in the world, I always had a computer, so that acted as a communication hub for me. I guess computers and video games were having a big moment at the time, so I could find one anywhere I went. Now that I think about it, that was a huge influence for me.
Can you tell us about your piece Humanelectro + Σ (SIGMA)?
Human beatboxers perform with their voice while they play electronics on machines. When I was watching a beatboxing performance once, I thought it was such a waste that someone who uses their body to perform has to look down at machines all the time. In order to allow these people to perform with their entire body, I created a device that transforms muscle and hand movements, as well as heartbeat, into audio and visuals. For example, a sensor detects your heartbeat and converts in into a wave-like visual, or the movements of your fingers are converted into sound. All the audio and visuals presented during the performance are created in real time.
What do you want to make in the future?
I really want to make an arcade game for children. I like kids, and the reason I wanted to make video is because I was influenced by kid’s shows on NHK (Japan’s national public broadcasting organization). When I look at kids these days, it seems like a lot of them play games on their smartphones every day. I think it’s really important to interact with a lot of different things. Kids need to touch more than just glass surfaces on smartphones—they need to gather all sorts of tactile information. I want to use modern technology to create a game that allows kids to do that. I’d like to make a physical space for the kids as well.
Mariya Suzuki is a popular illustrator known for her vivid color palette and rough sketches. Originally from the Japanese city of Nara, educated in California, and now based in Tokyo, Suzuki has been working on projects in Japan and abroad.
How did you become an artist?
I’ve always liked to draw and make things with my hands, since I was young, so becoming an artist has been my dream for as long as I can remember. When I was at university, I was good at realistic drawings, but I actually wanted to make more casual illustrations. That’s when I found an artist online who was good at soft line drawings that I really liked. We followed each other on Tumblr, and I got to meet them one day. They told me that they practiced drawing really fast to establish their current style. When I started practicing like they told me, I was able to narrow down the most important details of my subject and draw with looser lines.
What’s the theme of your work?
To me, it’s important to document the objects and scenery around me. That’s why I would say that everyday life is my theme. I have a really bad memory, so when I come back from a trip and friends ask me, “Where did you go? What did you do?” I’m just like, “Hmm, what did I do?...” But if I open my sketchbook, I have all the people and scenes of the places I visited in front of me, and I can explain everything I did. Drawings are like footprints to me. Drawing is a part of my life.
Emerging media artist Akinori Goto is making a name for himself with his toki- installation series that aims to create a physical manifestation of time. He exhibited at SXSW this year; since then, his work has been receiving international attention.
Your most well-known work is the toki- series, sculptures that express time and movement. How did you start making these pieces?
This might relate to our animal instincts, but things that move are so fascinating to me. I think that movement and change are strongly tied to time. If you think about time, you’re able to see what’s at the core of movement and also better understand how time works. Starting with that idea, I developed the toki- series to figure out the relationship between time and movement, as well as the beauty of time that comes out of that relationship. For the first piece of the series, I expressed movement and time in 2D, and then I brought the time axis into 3D, which made the whole piece look like a zoetrope. When I make the data for pieces like this, I use Illustrator.
You created your largest installation to date, toki- series_#02, for this year’s SXSW. It was a 3D printed sculpture in a 2.5 meter cubic space, with light cast onto it.
toki– series_#02 is an expression of beautiful ballet dancers through movement and light. These dancers move in such a refined, elegant way. By breaking their movements down and morphing it in CG, I visualized an invisible concept, a mass of time. When you shine lines of light onto it, the sculpture embodies human movements and the time that surrounds those movements. The installation was displayed throughout the festival. When light isn’t hitting the piece, it becomes a sculpture that traps time; in light, viewers are able to see the movements of the ballet dancers.
What prompted you to become an artist?
When I graduated from elementary school, my family moved to the U.S. because of my parents’ work. I couldn’t speak any English, so I tried to draw a lot in order to communicate with people. If you draw well, people will look at your work and want to talk to you. I think that’s how I learned non-verbal expression. When I returned to Japan, I studied visual communication design at Musashino Art University. I started off with graphic design, but I was so bad at it that I surprised myself! When I was wondering what to do instead, I learned about media art and started studying for it.
To see the work of the rest of the Illustrator 30_30 interviewees, check out the project’s Behance page. Create will be running more profiles throughout the summer and fall.