If you weren't aware, I work freelance taking commissions in the art space for anything graphic design and illustration related. Since my graduation from the Academy of Art in 2015, my services have been primarily utilized for graphic design such as logo design and typography. I didn't study either of these disciplines in college, but the Fine Art training I did receive is applicable in numerous ways that make me well suited for the job. Thankfully, as a freelancer, I have steadily gained many experiences that continue to diversify my portfolio. Adding to this ever growing list of experience is my newest commission for "The Musicks in Japan".
The Musicks in Japan
The Musicks are an American couple that share their unique perspectives on life in Japan as well as insights on hobbies and wellness. Honestly, to be fair, the content on their website is much more diverse than what I am giving them credit for. Please take a look at their website, they post regularly!
In anycase, the Musicks publish a podcast that was in need of a splash image. I reached out to them via a Facebook page to offer my services and subsequently acquired the commission. Through our correspondence, I've become very excited to work with the Musicks to add that extra bit of brand identity to their passion projects. Over the next few weeks you can expect to see more blog post centered around the development of their artwork. Therefore, a few of my regularly scheduled posts, such as "Throwback Thursday" or "Freeday", will be postponed until the completion of the project.
But, I don't want to leave you guys without any art to look at, so here is the first round of sketches for the wordmark/logo to be used as the header for their podcast.
Since the Musicks have plans to merchandise the art I produce for them, it is neccessary to be concious of varying facets outside the joys of creating artwork. For logos, that obviously includes legibility, but also composition, style, and longevity. To aid that process from a typographical perspective, I included pairs of typefaces that I considered to be the best reflections of the Musicks personality. I have no intention of using these fonts, instead opting to fuse them into one potential font for any given pair. So far, they have selected option C and typeface 2. I'm excited to take the project to the next step, and bring you all along for the ride.
What do you guys think? Do you need any art commissioned? Have you had any art commissioned before? What was your experience like? Leave your thoughts in comments below. As always, don't forget to like and share this post~
Until next time,
As it gets warmer summer quickly approaches, leaving us with a number of unique flora indicating the tail end of spring. With a culture of flower arrangement being ubiquitous in Japanese society, many types of plants hold a significant cultural value here. All across the country, flowers and plants are landscaped in a manner that acknowledges history, culture, and our awareness of the environment as we shift our lives through the changing seasons. One such flower encouraged me to write today's word of the day: ツツジ/Tsutsuji・Azalea.
ツツジ/Tsutsuji There is no kanji to discuss within today's word, so I'm going to give you the rundown on why these flowers are so popular. First, ツツジ typically bloom between late May and early June. This year, we saw them come into season very early due to the dramatic rise in temperature. At the time of writing, a lot of them have begun to wither away , but not before I managed to take a nice picture.
Next, It is very common to see the flowers placed alongside roadways due to their ability to recycle polluted air. Though the background is out-of-focus in the image above, I took the picture in front of an apartment that faces an intersection. Lastly, this particular genius of flower comes in 3 colors that were first bred over 300 years ago, purple, pink,and white. ツツジ are incredibly resilient to high temperatures, don't need much maintenance, and some are actually edible! Even though ツツジ are visible in most places throughout daily life, some shrines and gardens host brilliant Azalea festivals that celebrate the flowers. Because they adorn landscapes in such a majestic manner, I highly recommend you visit such festivals should you ever visit Japan during the season.
Thats all for today, what do you think? Did you know ツツジ were exported to America and Europe in the 1800s? What is your favorite type of flower? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. As always, don't forget to like and share this post~
Until next time,
Today's master copy is directly related to the commission I picked up for the Musicks in Japan podcast. Through our correspondence, I managed to narrow down the specific style that they wished to see in the finalized portraits I will be producing for them. Picking from a variety of styles, they settled on Shohei Otomo's photo realistic ballpoint pen illustrations. In order to get into the mindset necessary to complete such a detailed assignment, I thought it would be best to study Otomo's work in an in-depth manner by taking the time to copy one of my favorite pieces. Since, I didn't want to spend a ridiculous amount of time on it, I decided to go with one of his smaller illustrations, "KITSUNE".
I'm not sure how well known Shohei is internationally, but I recommend everyone to view his work. No doubt, many are familiar with his father's(Katsuhiro Otomo) work as the director of the anime classic, Akira(1988). Though Shohei tends to work exclusively in ballpoint pen, the amount of graphic detail he is able to get out of the medium is always impressive. On top of that, I think his work is thought provoking and engaging. My favorite series includes Japanese police officers smoking marijuana; still regarded as a highly illegal and dangerous substance throughout the country.
Anyway, I am always happy to view his latest pieces because of his tendency to reward viewers with numerous easter eggs. He is one of the few artist whose personality and interest become readily apparent just by looking at his artwork.
What do you think? Will you become a fan of Otomo's illustrations? Who is an artist that you admire? Are there specific artistic mediums that you prefer to use or view art in? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. As always, don't forget to like and share this post~
Until next time,
After a long 10 day vacation, I'm back to the grind of everyday life here in Japan. While it was fairly easy for me to get reacquainted with my work habits, I've been reading news articles about others whom are having much more difficulty falling back into the flow. Perhaps not surprisingly, a lot of people DISLIKED having a long vacation as the pressure of work no doubt weighed heavily on their conscious through out the holiday period. Which, more or less, is a segway into today's word of the day, "五月病/ごがつびょう/gogatsubyou ・May Blues".
The generic definition for May Blues suggest that it is experienced by individuals whom have a difficulty adjusting their mental state to a new environment. This type of anxiety is commonly observed in college freshman and new employees, but can refer to situations in which there is a prolonged absence from work/school. But why is it referred to as 五月病？ The reasoning is simple, but lets breakdown these kanji first.
*Beware: The pronunciation of this character may change depending on context.
The fifth month is obviously May, but the reason why "sickness" is associated with it is due to Japan's imperial calendar. In previous posts about job hunting and the moving season, I mentioned that the start of the fiscal year is observed at the beginning of April. Since that is the case, schools and business start not long afterwards, leaving new recruits/students to become acclimated to their new environments. Since change isn't always welcome, the discomfort manifests as May Blues.
Interesting? I've mentioned other illnesses in word of the day posts prior. You can read about that here. What do you think? Have you experienced depression or anxiety after a long vacation? How about from being in a different environment? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. As always, don't forget to like and share this post~
Until next time,
Whats up yall,
At some point during the Golden Week holiday, Yui and I came across the Mascots for the 2019 Rugby World Cup, which is to be hosted at various cities all across the country. Since she loves the design of these characters, naturally, we snapped a picture, but the occassion got me thinking about Japan's affinity for mascots.
Since I am from America, the situations in which I may encounter a mascot are few and far between. Aside from sporting events or outside the storefront of a business, I can't imagine seeing them anywhere else and somehow thinking its normal. However, Japan takes the idea of mascots above and beyond. From prefectures to polic departments, these characters are literally everywhere. Just to prove that I'm not exaggerting, I'm going to show you all the mascots I encounter on my daily commute from home to work.
First of all, I live in a totally different prefecture just north of Tokyo called Saitama. There are 47 prefectures in Japan, so there are at least 47 different mascots. Saitama's mascots are "Kobaton and Satamachi"; two purple Eurasian doves. Why? I don't know.
Obviously, prefecture mascots use commonly found elements from the area they are intended to represent, but I can't recall ever seeing one of these birds in the 3 years I've lived here.
Scaling down our geographical scope even further, my tiny town of Warabi also has a mascot; a Wallaby named "Wallaby". Why? Because the pronunciation of the town name in Japanese is practically the same in English. I guess the town officials thought they were being clever.
I, like everyone and their grandma, ride trains to work and everywhere in-between. Therefore its obviously necessary to have a mascot branded to your train pass. Suica is a rechargeable IC card that can be used at a variety of locations to pay for a wide range of products and services. These business will usually display the suica penguin to encourage use of the payment system within their establishment.
In any case, most people use suica to ride the train in eastern Japan. Other regions have similar IC cards with totally different mascots. I think Japan is just bored at this point.
Anyway, since there are literally hundreds of thousands of people riding the train at any given time, its the best opportunity for businesses to advertise. So, what better way to do that, then to have a mascot? Of course real estate companies like Suumo need a big green ball of fur to tell you where the cheapest and most accessbile real estate in the city is.
But perhaps, the furball isn't trustworthy. Don't worry, maybe "Homes-kun" is more your pace. Homes-kun can find you a great home just as well as Sherlock Holmes himself.
Ok, so after riding the train for 45min to an hour, I reach my station; one of the largest and busiest in the city. If I hadn't seen them before I would definitely see Tokyo's mascots for the 2020 Olympics, Miraitowa and Someity, by now. These two are everywhere, and Yui hates them. The two designs were selected via a competition in which elementary schools across the nation voted for their favorites among 3 pairs of finalist. I'm not entirely sure what Miraitowa is supposed to be, but Someity's design is definitely inspired by cherry blossoms(you can see the petals adorning her head).
Lastly, every station has a few a police boxes near or/on the premises. Naturally, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department has its own mascot, Pipo-kun, on display somewhere advising you to call the police at "110" should you see any suspicious activity. I'm not sure what animal Pipo-kun is supposed to be, maybe its an elf; but "pipo" is the sound sirens on patrol cars make.
Hopefully you guys found this post interesting. It was certainly fun to write and think about considering how fleeting these images can be in my daily life. Its certainly a use of character design that unqustionably goes overlooked at times. If you are interested in learning more about Japanese mascots, John Oliver's Last Week Tonight did a really funny piece a few months ago that I've linked below.
What do you think? Are mascots commonplace where you are from? What is the strangest mascot you've ever encountered? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. As always, don't forget to like and share this post.
Until next time,
After returning from a long Golden Week, a subtle shift in people's dress can be found all across the country. If you don't live in Japan, you definitely won't recognize this small difference even upon visiting the country, but its the start of a very particular season. And no, its not summer. Its "クールビズ シーズン/Cool Biz Season"!
Introduced in 2005 by the Environment Ministry, Cool Biz is an initiative to lower energy consumption and combat climate change by reducing our carbon footprint. Japan gets extraordinarily hot and humid during the summer months, so all corporate businesses and governement agencies adopt a slightly more relaxed dress code. Cool Biz Season, or just "Cool Biz", is the coined term for the period of time between May 1st and October 31 used to acknowledge that break in dress code. During the first few weeks of May, you will notice more and more salarymen leaving the necktie at home. Around June, it typically becomes very rainy, and therefore very humid, so most people will leave for work without a suit jacket. By July and August, most men begin wearing short-sleeve dress shirts if they haven't already. Of course, women also participate in Cool Biz, but I never notice many changes in attire with the exception of color and material.
Since クールビズ does not have any kanji, solely written in katakana, I will go over the 2 components of this compound word as it relates to what is acceptable dress.
How's the weather in your region? Is it heating up? Does your governement have a national protocol for how people should be dressing for work during various parts of the year? What do you think about this? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. As always, please like and share this post~
Until next time,
I've been working on today's piece for a few weeks now. If you are a follower of my instagram, some portions of this post may seem familiar. Some time ago, Yui asked if I could create an image that incorporated her family into elements that she could identify with as a personal logo. After some thought, we concluded that merging the family business' into one design would be the most ideal. Her father's side created tofu, while her mother's side grows cabbage. Since she is the product of these two families, no other design solution made as impactful or visually-intriguing image as the thumbnails below.
Just before the Golden Week break, I started utilizing a method of painting that solely used masks and blend modes. By incorporating that method into the design process, I managed to get subtle color and lighting variations between various planes of both objects dependent on their orientation in space.
What do you think? What two things should I combine next? What imagery do you think represents your family? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. As always, don't forget to like and share this post~
Until next time,
I've been addicted to watching the web series "The Young Guns" published by youtube design channel, the Futur. I previously recommended the more art and design savvy readers of the blog, to check my list of youtube channels to watch in 2019; Among that list was the the Futur channel. After browsing through various videos, I came across the "66 Smart Words" logo challenge from Bachir Bachchar. The goal is to create logos designed after words in which their meanings are visually represented. You can get a better idea by referencing the examples below.
Since I intend to keep myself motivated to continuously produce art, I thought pursuing this challenge would be fun. I also wanted to test the notion that "no idea is a bad design, just bad execution" philosophy. With that in mind, I would take the very first idea for any given design and continuously work on that until its "perfected". This is contrary to the typical process of working through various iterations of a single design until said "perfection" is reached.
The first word I decided to tackle is "thick". I knew whatever this word would become, would have to have a bold typeface, but also have a distinct character. Since I am first and foremost a character designer, I like to challenge myself by utilizing elements of story to carry my designs to the next level. Thats where I decided to incorporate the snail within the design. Snails excrete a slimy mucus that has viscosity some would describe as "thick". So, it is through that word association I developed my idea.
What do you think? What imagery do you associate with the word "thick"? What word should I do next? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. As always, don't forget to like and share this post~
Until next time,
Todays word will be in relation to the upcoming holidays set to take place in Japan. If you have read my previous post about the new era, 令和/reiwa, then you may be aware of its significance in the days ending out April. Moreover, there are several other sequential holidays coming in a block known as "ゴールデンウイーク/golden week", which will be the topic for todays entry.
So, since there is no kanji to break down, and I've discussed the purpose of katakana in a previous post, we will discuss the nature of festivities that happen during this block of time.
There are 4 national holidays that fall within Golden week between the end of April and beginning of May.
Even though Golden Week is an annually observed series of holidays, this year saw the addition of several more, totaling an unprecedented amount of 10 consecutive holidays. On 5/1, the new emperor will be coronated marking the beginning of the 令和 era, thus becoming a National Holiday. However, the cool part is the existance of a law that designates the day falling in-between two national holidays also be observed as a national holiday. Taking this into consideration, both 4/30 and 5/2 become holidays. With so much time off, Golden week becomes one of the 3 busiest travel times of the year. Since a variety of businesses are closed during this time, most people take this opportunity to visit their hometowns or travel abroad. On the flipside, a lot more people continue to work at some point during the holiday, usually opting to come in on a saturday or sunday in an effort to make-up lost time. My day job requires me to work in the public school system, so I will have an uninterrupted break until the 7th. During this time I will be leaving Tokyo at some point to visit my girlfriend's family in the countryside for a few days.
How often do you travel? Do you get to enjoy many vacation days throughout the the year? What would you do if you had 10 days off? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. As always, don't forget to like and share this post~
Until next time,