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 took these images with my iPhone 5s in my studio / office. No frills. No complicated photo shoot set up. Done in about 30 minutes.
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.
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.