Welcome back to another addition of random Japanese words you will likely have no use for in your daily life. As some of you may or may not be aware, Japan is suffering from population decline. Aside from the general public not having enough children to replace the current population, mass population displacement/migration isn't exactly helping the situation either. Since the economy is heavily reliant on the GDP generated from its largest cities, many people leave their homes in the countryside to reside closer to financial centers with more opportunities. That brings us to today's word, 秘境駅/ひきょうえき/hikyoueki・secluded station. Its a very straightforward combination of characters, so lets breakdown these kanji.
⦁ 秘/ひ/hi - secret/conceal
⦁ 境/きょう/kyou - boundary, border, region
⦁ 駅/えき/eki - (train)station
The best way for me to explain these kanji is by introducing you to some other words that utilize them in ways that make their individual definitions more apparent. So, lets start with (秘), which is most often found in the word 秘密/himitsu・secret and (境), commonly found in the word 環境/kankyou・environment. By extracting the definition of these two words and applying them to 秘境駅, it wouldn't be a stretch to assume that it represents a station in a secret environment; otherwise, a station in a remote/secluded region.
So, how did I come across this word anyway? Well, Japanese television seems to make a mission out of turning anything into semi-interesting programming, so when I found a segment of a show in which a man waits for hours at a secluded station to see what type of person off-boards, I was pretty intrigued. I've included a clip for you all to enjoy below, unfortunately there are no subs available. However, I'm sure you guys are bright enough to figure out whats going on using context clues.
On the other hand, I did find a Daily Mail report that did a piece on a station that remained open for several years so a single high school student could get to school everyday. However, upon her graduation, the station, like many others closed down.
What do you guys think? Are there regions in your country or city not serviced by public transit? How important is public transit to the infrastructure of your region? Is it possible/probable that an entire station would remain in service for the sake of one person? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. As always, don't forget to like and share this post.
Until next time,
Welcome back to the blog.
A few months ago, a former co-worker commissioned me to create a logo for a custom set of business cards. It was a simple identity/branding task, that was aimed at helping my client become established as a distributor of fine South African wines for markets here in Japan.
I've since lost contact with him, but he was extremely satisfied with my work the last I heard. Naturally, as with all my design tasks, I created a Pinterest board to help guide the overall direction of the logo creation(seen below). However, looking beyond the simplicity of a business card, I decided to go one step further and develop his idea into the potential packaging of a wine bottle design.
This time I focused on the unique identity of the people and culture of South Africa. Therefore, I collected various imagery that resonated with these ideas and included those in the board as well. Using the reference materials above, I created various colored drafts and patterns to use in the final design. Though none of the patterns are particularly authentic to the country of South Africa, the purpose of the exercise was to simply interpret the data and create an impression of the multitude of cultures, languages and ethnic groups that the country prides itself in.
Combining this patchwork of artistic identity would eventually lead to the painting seen below. Foregoing the typical paper labels pasted on wine bottles around the world, I decided a fabric label would not only heighten the perceived quality of the product, but better align with the more earth-bound and natural essence of the people. I believe my design evokes the unique hand-dyed and spun fabrics of kente cloth found in many communities and countries across the African continent.
I was quite happy with the result of my bottle, especially taking into consideration it was completely made in a brand new program that I have yet to become proficient in(Krita for those interested). However, I was still curious as to how I could make a proof of concept for potential advertising. So, I took this design to the next level and created a mock-up for a billboard. At this point, I imagined Istanan Wines to be more than a distributor of established wine brands, but a full fledged winery. Because...why not?
What do you guys think? If I go back and make edits, I would probably drop the contrast of the text by using an alternative color to black since it doesn't actually exist in nature. Overall, I'm pretty happy with the end product. What product should I design next? I'm considering making a package for my ChaTo project or moving on to something completely new; animation perhaps? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. As always, don't forget to like and share this post.
Until next time,
Long time, no see. Apologies for the extended absence. Your boy was going through some things(some of which, remain to be resolved). However, thats neither here nor there. I decided today would be a good day to return to my habit of exploring random Japanese words I consider interesting. Today's choice is a complicated one, inspired by various personal, political, and social events. For the sake of not being so esoteric, lets focus on the demonstrations that have plagued Hong Kong for the past 3 months. I won't go into too much detail regarding Carrie Lam's proposed extradition bill, but if you are interested in learning more, feel free to checkout Asian Boss's video below.
In any-case, these protesters are vehemently opposed to the use of force by the Hong Kong police department, even resorting to violence in cases of self-defense. Therefore, I have decided today's word is "抵抗/ていこう/teikou・resistance", so lets breakdown these kanji.
As you can see, this word contains 2 separate kanji with roughly the same meaning. While some may find this to be a nuisance, I personally find this to be a blessing in disguise. Due to the number of instances in which either character may appear in combination with others, it increases the probability of understanding the general meaning of a previously unknown word. This happens to be the case for the latter half of "抵抗", (抗), since it functions as a prefix for many words such as:
抗議・Protest 抗菌・Antibacterial 抗争・Dispute 抗うつ剤・Antidepressant
On the other hand, the former half of "抵抗", (抵), is much more complicated, hence why it might be considered a nuisance. However, to be fair, its alternative uses could loosely be associated with ideas that are functionally "contrary" to a person's interest, as in:
抵触・Inconsistent/Contradictory 抵当・Mortgage 抵当流れ・Foreclosure 副抵当・Collateral security
I think its cool that these symbols can be packed with so much meaning, both static and fluid. Are you able to reconcile the slight nuances between the two kanji introduced at the top of the post? Can you see how they might differ in use depending on the context given in their alternative examples? Are there words in your native language you feel may be redundant or obsolete? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. As always, don't forget to like and share this post~
Until next time,
When was the last time you saw a sketchbook? What was in it?
This is mine. A patchwork of my likes, experiences, and memories. What would you expect to find inside should you open it? Its not unreasonable to assume there would be numerous illustrations considering its a sketchbook.
Mine, however, features more writing than one might expect.
Yet, there was once a time when I refused to take notes here as to not ruin the continuity of the book. Thats obviously no longer important, as the book is meant for me and doesn’t require the elements to make it a “showpiece”. That said, its contents should showcase the utility of my process as it relates to art, regardless of the amount of illustrations present.
Many of the notes are simply shortcuts and bullet points for my design processes; ideas to be considered when taking a piece from one phase to another (especially when digital tools are introduced). So, instead of constantly drawing to grow my technical skills toward mastering specific techniques, I usually focus on organizing my thoughts and envisioning methods to produce visuals that I may not have the time/patience to render by hand. Thankfully, this has given me the ability to devise design plans quickly and efficiently. Sometimes allowing me to take a portion of one project and implement it in a completely different context or use-case. See my Olympic postage stamp as an example. This one instance has now afforded me the option to purse a completely new project that could potentially be monetized.
Since its WIP Wednesday, I thought sharing a look at my book would help inform my audience about my approach to art creation. Simultaneously, acknowledging the possibility of varying ways in which to create design solutions. I firmly believe the way I’m able to strategize quick and reliable solutions for clients is due to the resourcefulness of my sketchbooks. Often offering me the most creative solutions even when the path is not so obvious.
What do you think? Do you keep a sketchbook, bullet journal, or planner? What do you use it for? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. As always, don’t forget to like and share this post~
Until next time,
I was debating whether I should submit my work on this little design project I produced for an acquaintance. There wasnt any meaningful amount of time spent creating this, but a concentrated effort to produce something that functionally delivered my client's request.
First, some context. Pio2i is an independent business consultation service based in central Tokyo. The specifics surrounding this enterprise are lost on me, but one thing was made very clear by my client, "boobs". He wanted his logomark to incorporate female breasts in a subtle way only obvious to himself. Normally I would decline this type of assignment since I cant really reciprocate such a low level of maturity, but the challenge was too tempting. Thus, I folded and explored just how creatively I could execute such a plan.
Per usual, I started my endeavor by researching competitor logos and cataloged the types of imagery that communicates corporate identity. Admittedly, most of what I found was very vague or too straightforward. I think most designs were uninspired, which granted me the flexibility to make something more dynamic a creative(considering my source material).
The next step was finding a method to not only simplify the shape of the shape of breast, but maintain the design integrity as it was manipulated into other objects. So, after drawing a select number of breasts from varying angles, I settled on the best candidate for the job. Doubling back on some of the iconography often utilized by corporate culture as well as some keywords often associated with it.
My explorations eventually brought me the image of an eagle, a bird that rises above and perseveres, strong and determined. All qualities I think most successful business' would like to project. I think being able to confidently express this part of the design process is paramount in receiving a positive response to any proposed logo or branding material. This way, the client can feel contributory in helping realize the vision of the design as it relates to the mission of their business.
After refining the shape design, adding color, and mocking-up the design across relevant stationary and corporate letterhead, I think I was quite successful in marrying these 2 contrasting ideas. What do you think? Would you think twice about the origins behind the images you see? What other objects should I turn into a logo? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. As always, don't forget to like and share this post~
Until next time,
Long time, no see! I recently finished moving from Saitama to Kanagawa prefecture. I don't intend to stay at my current residence for very long though. I'm temporarily couch-surfing, but hopefully I can save a considerable amount of money before I move again in September. In any case, the transition has made utilizing my computer equipment much more inconvenient, so the next posts over the following weeks will focus on curation rather than my creations.
This video in particular from The Futur Academy has really motivated me into thinking more critically about my audience's perspective when visiting my website. Whether they are fans, friends, potential employers or clients, describing my work with clear context has become my goal for the summer. I think the whole video is worth watching, but here are some of my top picks you can scrub to:
7:25 – What problems did you solve as a designer?
9:30 – The importance of showing process and how you think.
29:00 – Highlight insights to show how you've formed your design solution.
37:00 – Your work does not speak for itself. Explain your work.
Currently, my portfolio is setup in a manner that emphasizes the breadth of my skill, but not my process. This got me thinking on how to better showcase the content I do have, so that my role in the conception becomes clear. If you've been following the blog for long, you're probably already aware of my push to expand my older projects. Though this fills a lot of space in my portfolio with important visuals, I realized that the extra images don't mean much without the context of a story. Therefore, I've been looking into various ways of making the website more engaging and receptive to HR people. Ya boy needs to change his job!
In other news, summer vacation starts soon so I'll be working a lot more diligently in the coming weeks What do you think? As an Artist, have you ever had a portfolio reviewed? How about those in other forms of employment, has your work publicly criticized and judged? How did you apply those changes to improve yourself? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!
As always, don't forget to like and share this post~
Until next time,
Another week means another work in progress update. Again, I will be revisiting the Musick's project since it seems to continuously grow in scale with each passing day. I promise next week will be something different though; I have a lot of different projects on hold at the moment.
Anyway, today's update is again related to the Musick's /podcast. I agreed to work with them over the coming year to produce an image for the weekly release of their podcast. Each image is intended to be a unique edition in what I can only hope would be a lovely collage of all things culturally Japanese. They aren't intended to be anything super sophisticated, but I think I will try to observe some major holidays/events, seasonal foods, and imagery that is commonly associated with this country from a domesticated perspective. So, don't expect to see any Sumo wrestlers, Geisha, or any other stereotype images over the next 52 weeks.
Above are the first 4 images I've drawn up for the most current and furture episodes(at the time of writing). I'm pretty happy that I've been entrusted with a long term project like this. Since I have full creative control of these images, I think it will ultimately help showcase my versatility and creativity in the long run. Of course, it will no doubt improve my consistency and speed as well.
What do you guys think? What kinds of projects are you working on? Have you ever been commissioned long term? What kinds of images do you associate with Japan? Do you want to know why I chose the imagery that I did? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. As always, please like and share this post~
Until next time,
This coming September, Japan will host the Rugby World Cup at various venues all across the country. Rugby isn't very popular in America but is a sport that has seen rising interest throught this country since its formal introduction in the 1930s. In fact, the Japanese National Team are strong competitors, currently ranked number 11 throughout the world and are by far the best team in Asia. Which is all very cool, but in order to keep with the design theme of my blog, I wanted to specifically inform you of the brand new World Cup ticket designs introduced last week.
I should mention that I am not much of a Rugby fan either. I actually don't know anything about the sport, but these designs have definitely peeked my curiosity into learning more. The front of the tickets show depictions of players engaging in battle, reminicent of old Japanese Ukiyo-e woodblock prints popularized throughout the 17th~19th centuries. I really like how the designs are stylized in a traditional manner, but simultaneously maintain a refreshing pop of color and refinement that push it them into the modern era. The gold backgrounds and delicate patterns are also nice details that do well in elevating the cheaply printed tickets to a classier level. I also appreciate that there is more than one design, which adds incentive to collect them in the long run.
I wouldn't mind just receving a used ticket to paste on my sketchbook to be honest. Which leads me to believe that the designs were crafted with foreign audiences in-mind. A lot of contemporary Japanese design tends to lean into the "ludicrously cute" territory. What do you guys think? Do you prefer this antique Japanese style or the cute stuff? My girlfriend said she would have prefered to see the Rugby mascots, Ren-G, gracing the face of the tickets, but understands the appeal of this traditional approach. Leave your thoughts in the comments below. As always, don't forget to like and share this post~
Until next time,
There was no clear plan for what this post was going to be about, but for the sake of the blog I managed to rummage something interesting together. If you've been following my commission journey for the Musicks in Japan, you would be aware that I've been deep in the trenches finessing my typography skills. To expand my practice even further, I often extrapolate ideas from paths that are often unusable for a particular project, but still manage to be interesting enough to warrant development for other purposes. That so happened to be the case for the image below.
As I was trying to resolve organization and typesetting issues for the Musicks in Japan logo, specifically for the word "Japan", I came across a neat idea. By pushing the vowels back in space, outlining them through the shadows of the consonants, I could make the abbreviation of JPN clearly legible with my own unique font. However, aside from being a cool design, there wasn't much purpose behind this idea, so I left it sit in the recesses of my mind until I finished my commission. Thankfully, I like to be as resourceful and intuitive as possible with all my designs to maximize the potential from the tiniest of sketches. I figured whatever the end goal would be for this idea, it would have to be timely in its content and execution.
Over the past few years, talks about the Tokyo 2020 Olympic games have been the center of conversation, an inescapable fact of life here. Unfortunately, a lot of people have become quite disillusioned by the whole idea and aren't really looking forward to the event, despite what the media publishes. Therefore, I decided to do the opposite and look back at the 1964 games. For whatever reason, people don't seem to acknowledge the history the Olympics has in Japan, preferring to focus exlusively on next years games. With that in mind, I continued developing my sketches in a way that could incorporate these ideas but kept a strong focus on type.
I think the first inclination some novice designers have when implementing their designs onto products would be to use a t-shirt or a mug. However, not all designs are suitable for all products and vice-versa. I felt this route would cheapen my design, so it didn't take me very long to move away from this idea and consider more sophisticated options. Considering the refined and elegant nature of my wordmark, I figured mocking-up a commemorative postage stamp would be the most ideal option.
Keeping with the time period represented, I chose a retro color scheme and a vintage finish that would allow the graphic to pay homage to that era's design sensibilities. Simultaneously, I think the final product still has an air of modernity considering the color vibrancy, economy of space, and font choice. What do you guys think? What other sporting events should I explore in the future? FIFA? Rugby? Baseball? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. As always, don't forget to like and share this post~
Until next time,
I haven't done a Throwback Thursday in quite a long time, so I figured today would be a good time to get back into it. Unlike, some previous versions of this post, I won't be redesigning anything, but instead releasing a new design that has been floating in my head for quite some time. Today, I decided to return to the ChaTo brand and expand on what I developed 3 years ago.
For those that don't know, ChaTo is a boutique retailer specializing in Japanese loose tea, ceramics, and gifts exported from business' all across the country to their location in San Francisco. Previously, I created the wordmark for their brand, which is still proudly being used today.
I think this logo is quite nice, but I thought it lacked the flexible use a self-contained image might have especially when it comes to branding. When I consider the type of enterprise ChaTo actually is, the image of ceramics and tea isn't always clear even though there are elements within the present design that express that. Unfortunately, third party individuals wouldn't likely notice these subtlties and often need imagery to be more obvious. After re-evaluating the current wordmark from this perspective, I decided to go with a design that was a bit more straightforward but remained in-step with the previous design.
The idea was to create a secondary logo that could live harmoniously alongside my previous design. In order to test this idea, I mocked up some business cards in which this new design is used as a watermark on the back side of the card.
What do you think? Do you think the wordmark works well in communicating the business practice on its own? What designs should I revisit next time? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. As always, don't forget to like and share this post~
Until next time,