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. Then I discovered anime, manga, and Japanese toys. It's all part of my personal fountain of youth now.
This year at the 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 about 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 there's something deeper than culture that I hold to. Being an introspective person. Cultivating humility and industriousness. Striving to continuously improve (Kaizen). Thriving within limitations.
Is it a lantern or something more meaningful? Maybe one day I'll look back on this project and time will tell.
I've been developing a pictographic art style for some time now, with work on World of Rynaga since 2007 and more recently Pictoboy. When we discover our voice and vision as artists, there's a sense of comfort which cradles one's creative process. It's a peace that's unexplainable, but it places us in the calm eye of the inspiration hurricane that is the internet.
I took these images with my iPhone 5s in my studio / office. No frills. No complicated photo shoot set up. Just down and dirty and done. In about 30 minutes.
Had so much fun with this project. I'd like to create a few more of these lanterns. Limited editions. Perhaps incorporating World of Rynaga art, Pictoboy art, or other original illustrations I've been cookin' up. Hmmm.
If you know what film this robot is from, we're birds of a feather. If you don't, please watch Hayo Miazakyi's Castle in the Sky. Then watch Porco Rosso, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, Howl's Moving Castle, Ponyo, Princess Mononoke,... just everything from Studio Ghibli. In whatever order you want.
Gojira! The King of Monsters. Can't wait for the new film!
I associate Pokemon with discovery and youthfulness. My wife and I used to play the game with our son when he was quite young. Fond memories are calming when we realize how fast time passes.
Ramen is my favorite Japanese dish. When I can't be in Tokyo, Cherry Blossom here in Phoenix is a great alternative. :D
I was so nervous weeding out all of the laser cut pieces on this lantern, some of which had to be persuaded to come out with an x-acto blade and a metal punch. Thought I would crack / break some of the lattice work. Nope, the wood held together nicely.
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 absorbant and does tend to lower color contrast once the print is backlit. Up close, the texture is beautiful.
Some preliminary sketches.
Sorry Astroboy and Ultraman. Maybe you'll make the cut next time.
Samurai Pizza Cats! I was prepared to go deep on this project people. (I really need to find these episodes on disc someday. Awesome show. So much humor and excellent writing.)
Some other ideas I captured.
Fun fact! The fossil record tells of smaller forms of tigers that used to live in Japan. I wonder how small they were and if anyone ever mistook them for just really grumpy domestic cats. Hmmmm? If so, yikes and ouch!