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Illustration, Print
Book Dsign

Although I started my career as a graphic designer, I have worked in many different areas of art; art direction for film, stage design, experimental film, murals, sculpture and prints. I have also written several books of design and fine art, and a play called "Tokyo Three Penny Operetta".
I wonder what I would be doing in the future. That fifty years have passes since I began as an artist. I was unable to count my works. I would guess the number is about 3000. But it is still one tenth of what Pablo Picasso produced.
I have always been full of curiosity. I went anywhere I found something interesting to discover. I was often absorbed in reading about subjects I did not understand. It is true that painting and graphic design require aesthetic sense and sparks of genius. But I also thought that, in order to complete my works, I had to come up with questions about objects and space.
I was interested in mythology, folktales and legends and I was absorbed in biology. I was fascinated with Hokusai, and was interested in the Spanish architect, Antonio Gaudi. If I go forwards as I have been, I will be running full tilt at in completion.

I wonder where the imagination for drawing comes from? On a sheet of white paper, I casually draw a line. The white paper immediately becomes a screen and space.
Sitting in front of the paper, I wait for a visit from my imagination. My imagination has to be clearer than when I meditate. Otherwise I cannot draw.
I must have been dreaming or something. I started to draw a circle and the circle became and eyeless face. The surroundings of the face are lines of a stratum, meterological contour lines. The face of a girl or an old lady in Munch's"The Scream" rose before me and flew away. The heads of Picasso, Sharaku, and Eisen came across my mind but they disappeared, too Many images come and go. Faces that I don't recognize come and go. Whose faces were those? Are those clouds, or the sky reflected in water? A leaf vibrates and disappears.
Although we have no detailed knowledge about the functions of posters in our life today, at least the fact remains that they are the live evidence of culture of each age. What makes the street as the street should be are posters, and as a Polish designer is saying, they are actually "the art of the street". I think it is because we can have them at any place and any time, not at such respectable place as at the exhibition-galleries but in crowded place, in restaurants and tea-rooms, on dirty walls, on windows, or as pin-ups in private rooms; they exist freely and are pasted as if they were "exposed". Therefore, posters are the origin of environment art, and at the same time they seem to turn the street itself into a pop museum.
I sometimes wonder what differences there are between prints and graphic designs. In my case, there is nothing special; everything is the same as which other people… in case of designing, there is a client, but in case of prints there is no client. Such a difference may exist.
But there is not the reason for distinguishing between the two. A print will not be a print unless I determine it by saying so, but the content drawn in it has much in common with the images of graphic design and illustrations. I have not thought of any special attitude towards the making of prints. Rather I sometimes choose themes by being given hints, looking at completed graphic designs or illustrations, or under the influence of ready-made printed matter.
I wonder how many books I have designed. I have never counted them.
Although I have designed quite a number of books, there are only a few that I really like. It seems that I should like all of them because I designed them, but I could not have done too many that are memorable.
Designing books is one of the most interesting fields in graphic design.
Book design seems easy but actually is quite difficult to do well. You have to consider the book subject and the budget for the book will set a limitation on the quality of paper and print and on the number of colors that you can use. You are not allowed to do it freely.
You can picture the completed book fairly well, but you do not really know how it looks until it's finished. Sometimes you come to like the book after some years, and the book makes you remember what you have done in the past.
My own environment design started with the "iron gate" for Izumo Shrine (1962) and continued with the "Relief for the wall and tiled courtyard" for the Tsuyama Cultural Center, "The wall of iron pipes" at Rinkai-kogyo Center, and "The Shuji Terayama Memorial Hall". I was pretty inexperienced when I worked on these three pieces. So rather than drawing a plan, I worked at the actual sites. When working with iron, I had several days of visits to iron factories. I saw the chaos there and my work was provoked by it. I think that a piece like "Courtyard" would not have been produced if it had not been in Tsuyama.
Environment is not an isolated subject. It is a series of linked, related subjects, We can perhaps call it a condition, It is like a situation where a piece of sculpture that looks independent at a glance actually exists with its platform, the floor, the ground, the heat of the earth, the ceiling and the sky.
Artists of my generation tend to try things that are beyond their genres. A crossbreeding of different styles results and distinctions among different art forms become blurred. Artists often feel that they can leap into different genres and explore an unknown world. If we take fine art and graphic design more openly, a theatrical space is also an artistic space. But in today's age of specialization, it might be only us, the "WWⅡgeneration" who started from a wide stretch of burned ruins, that have this conception about artistic styles.
Unlike theatrical works that based on cooperation, fine art and design are individual works. They are thus basically different in terms of their expression.
As for films, I started with the production of the preview of "Otoshiana" in 1961, and I made titles for several movies. I also made some short experimental films, so-called individual films. During the making of these films, I was preoccupied with the design aspects of time. My work in film was also motivated by an interest in the individualization of pictures and visions. If I put it in Yuusuke Nakahara's words, it is the "meaning of seeing". My drive for seeking the unexpectedness of space involved me in the art direction of movies and in the stage design of plays. These are "Shinju-tenno-amijima"(double suicide at Tenno-amijima), "Himiko", "Denen-ni-shisu"(death at Den-en), and so on.
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