Japanese Pop-Culture Lantern
Pocket Monsters, Kaiju, Super Robots, and Ramen.
Growing up, adventures in Japanese art and pop culture were only a mile away at the local library. On some weekends our living room television would relay the many sights and sounds of Science Fiction Theater. In black and white or color. Didn't matter. Was glorious either way. Then came anime and manga. It all left a dent in my childhood. The good kind.
This project originated at ADIM Conference (Boulder, CO). Our mission was to create a Japanese-inspired lantern using paper and wood, from concept to completion. All told we had eight hours. At our disposal: a laser cutter, 9-color printers, and of course pencils and pixels.
Conceptually I decided to pay homage to Takeo Takei (in a modernized way of course). Mr. Takei is one of my favorite illustrators of yesteryear. The observant eye can still detect his influence on manga, anime, illustration, design, and character design for video games decades after he published his first works (circa 1920). Look up his work. It resonates.
Restraint guided my decision-making process while working on the art for this piece. I focused on contrasting symmetries, color harmonies, and iconography. I've always identified with the Japanese culture, but it's more than that. It's about my values. Being an introspective person. Cultivating humility, discipline, and industriousness. Striving for continuously improvement (Kaizen). Thriving within limitations. Understanding freedom of choice and freedom from choice.
If you know what film the robot above is from, we're birds of a feather. If you don't, please watch Hayao Miazakyi's Castle in the Sky. Then watch Porco Rosso, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, Howl's Moving Castle, Ponyo, Princess Mononoke,... everything from Studio Ghibli. In whatever order you want.
The paper I used was a natural variety rice paper (as opposed to bleached), which is technically referred to as Washi paper. It's super absorbent which does tend to lower color contrast a bit. But once the print is backlit, colors sing. Up close, the texture is beautiful.
Some preliminary sketches.