Archive for the ‘Shotype’ Category

The exhibition Tezuka Osamu ‘Messages to the Future’

Sunday, June 21st, 2009

Tezuka Osamu (November 3, 1928 – February 9, 1989) has been the most celebrated cartoonist of the Shōwa era. He produced an unparalled number of remarkable works, contributing to give shape to what we commonly refer today as the “story manga”: Tetsuwan Atomu – literally “Mighty Atom” – known in English as Astro Boy, Janguru Taitei (Kimba the White Lion), Ribon no Kishi (Princess Knight), Black Jack, Hi no Tori (Phoenix) and many others, which had a huge impact on the child readers during the Showa era. This goes especially for Atom. Without Atom’s conception, we wouldn’t probably have had such a flourishing of animation and manga culture, as well as that confidence on science’s application, technology, of which we are witnessing such a development in the field of robotics today.

The exhibition, titled ‘Messages to the Future’, was a memorial of the 80th anniversary of Tezuka’s birth. It was very nice and I thought it was worth watching. It showed original artwork taken from Tezuka’s manga works, including some draft drawings, presented in chronological order.

Left: The Edo Tokyo Museum is located in Sumida Ward, Tokyo, nearby the Ryogoku Kokugikan Hall, a famous site in the Sumo wrestling field. The museum has a huge diorama built around the theme of the downtown urban life in the Edo period, around 300 years ago. It’s a fascinating way to get acquainted with the old Japanese citizens’ lives and customs. Right: A billboard of the Museum. The building in the background is the Ryogoku Kokugikan Hall.

The opening part of the exhibition features the insects’ sketches done by Tezuka in his childhood. His name Osamu 治虫 was taken from those insects, called ‘osamushi’ (in Japanese it means ‘Ground beetle’). He really loved to watch insects. Even the small sketches in his pocket notebook show the insects’ body depicted in a very detailed way. Later on, he added captions to all of the pictures and compiled them into a book.

The exhibition represented a rare chance to see his early works while he was a college student. The characters in the early works were very cute. I was not familiar with them but I was surprised to see how they looked to me like ‘prototypes’ of his later, more famous, characters. It did not just show his more famous works, such as Atom and Janguru Taitei, but many later works I was not familiar with, and unfinished material as well.

On various artwork panels it may be seen the white-outs painted to conceal mistakes and spots, and the lettering was often added later on, done on separate pieces of paper and sticked on them. By looking at the surface of the drawing paper, I felt like I could almost see how he drew the lines and refine them with the black ink. The ink was really vivid and the balance between black and white was always achieved with very beautiful results. This reminded me of the balance between forms and counters of the letter we seek in type design.

Tezuka’s mastery was not just about in his figurative drawings, but also in lettering, for which he had a fabulous talent. His vibrant title logos on the colored covers reached my imagination and enriched the story’s world. Of course, all of them were made by hand, without any computer aid. Angular logos were dynamic and powerful, they often seemed to express certain features of Atom and Janguru Taitei, of the characters themselves.

Another part depicted Tezuka’s own daily life, showing familiar everyday objects such as pens, ink, erasers, glasses and his coppola cap (widely known as his iconic trade mark), all of them showcased on the desk where he used to draw, and there were photos with his family and the related manga works. The exhibition chronicled also the history of his many residences and relocations. I know that the Tokiwa-sou apartment was in Toshima Ward, which is nearby my town. But, I was surprised to know that the Mushi Production office is very close to my home. It seems it’s just within five minutes by bike! My town, Nerima Ward, is known as a manga town because many cartoonists live in here, but I’d never have told Mushi Production was located so close to my home.

I think that the generation of japanese people most familiar with Tezuka’s works should be now at least in its 40s, or older. I used to watch Tezuka’s anime such as “Janguru Taitei Reo”, “Fushigi na Merumo-chan” or “Ribon no Kishi”, but all of them were re-broadcasted as replicas in my childhood. Unfortunately, I have hardly seen Tetsuwan Atom, because the series was old and black-and-white, and rarely reprogrammed. My generation (people which are now in their 30s) preferred to watch robot anime such as Gundam or Macross instead. Coming to manga, I loved to read Doraemon and Toriyama Akira’s manga, Dr. Slump and Dragonball. They were a huge success for children in those days.

However, Tezuka’s manga had a great influence on me. They taught me a lot of things which I couldn’t get in school. For example, although its visual language may be a little strong, Fushigina Merumo-chan featured sexual education notions, while Black Jack gave me a strong sense of professional duty, humanity and compassion. As a child, I got interested in Black Jack because I’d sometime got sick and was forced to stay in hospital. My illness was not so serious but these stories encouraged me a lot. Of course I’m fine now.

The catalog and post cards that I bought at the museum shop.

Tezuka’s work represented a tremendous influence on the following generations of cartoonists. This means that I have read a lot of the manga which were influenced, directly or indirectly, by the work of Tezuka. I guess the influence continues to be carried on today, to the latest cartoonist, and flourished as animation and manga culture, which can now be enjoyed by many people across the world. He left a thousand of ‘Messages to the Future’ through his works. I would say Tezuka Osamu must be regarded as the father of manga.

Revised on July 19, 2009.

— Gratitude. My Type Design Pen Pal Claudio Piccinini in Italy revised my poor English text after I posted it to my blog, and translated it to Italy for Italian Tezuka Aficionado’s website. Thanks Claudio! —

Railway car designs and Letters.

Sunday, May 10th, 2009

If you were a train geek and want to come to Japan, I do recommend you go to Kyushu island, in southwest part of Japan. If you were a typeface and letter geek, Kyushu is worth visiting to check railway designs. Eiji Mitooka is the most famous train car designer in Japan. Japanese broad casting company TBS (Tokyo Broadcasting System) run the program featured Mitooka last night, I’ve enjoyed to watch it.

I had been in Kyushu area several times. The one of the times was about four years ago to research the Hisatsu Orange Railway, which runs southwest coast in Kyushu island, and the last time was in last October to trip across Kyushu. Anywhere I would like to go to, I went to there mostly by train. The limited express trains designed by Mitooka such as Kamome, means gull, Sonic, Yufuin no Mori (Forrest in Yufuin) and Kyushu Shinkansen ballet train named Tsubame means swallow, are running across the Kyuhsu island.

Not only the limited expresses, but also commuter trains and the one runs across rural area were very cool and unique. When I was waiting for the next train was coming to the station in rural area, I was astonished that a strong red colored and unique graphic designed train was coming to the station. I thought they looked like European style train cars. The logotypes and typographies of the designs were also great and I was always excited to see them during my trip.



Above: Kyushu Shinkansen ballet train Tsubame. The logos are very cute. “つばめ” means swallows.


Relay Tsubame runs between Hakata and Shin-Yatsushiro, where is still under construction Kyushu ballet train line. Relay Tsubame connects to Kyushu Shinkansen.


Sonic series Nichirin Right above: The symbol mark comes from the design of the head rest of the passenger seat.

Above: The sightseeing limited express, Yufuin no Mori. Right: The script logo decal on the partition window between the passenger area and the cockpit.

The limited express across Kyushu. The trains run through the Aso volcano area between Kumamoto and Beppu (Oita pref.) The line contains switchback system.


The commuter trains are also unique and have urbanized design. JR group often uses Helvetica to show car numbers. However, Mitooka designs them like a numbering of the Robot Hero Gundum.

After starting my design office last year, my former-supervisor in Osaka introduced me to Mitooka, I had a chance to visit Mitooka’s office in Itabashi Ward, Tokyo. He talked about some stories and episodes of his works for over two hours. ‘I always couldn’t get enough budget to design these logotypes and graphic designs for the train. Mostly of the logo designs were voluntary works,’ Mitooka said. ‘I think it is very important to design logos and to design the layout of letters because train cars definitely need letters and numbers to show the train’s name and car number signs’, he continued.

Indeed, as he mentioned above, he did the best job to design letters and numbers even if they are in a hidden place. Besides, Mitooka always takes care of the design so that children can enjoy to see and to get on trains. In the TV program, he explained the chair he designed that this is the one I wanted (when I was a child). He is always considering designs for children.

When I was child I used to draw trains that run nearby my home town. I loved to see trains and wanted to become a designer for trains. However, I’m a type designer now. I still hope to work for the project for designing trains or railway signs from the viewpoint of a typeface designer in future.

Recommend book. amazon.co.jp, Japanese only.
ぼくは「つばめ」のデザイナー—九州新幹線800系誕生物語』”Boku wa Tsubame no Designer”, means “I’m a designer of Shunkansen Tsubame”, Kyushu Shinkansen Design Story. 水戸岡鋭治著 Author: Eiji Mitooka.

The Ice cream day.

Saturday, May 9th, 2009

In Japan, today is the Ice cream day. I designed a logotype and a package for an Ice sorbet named “Ice no Mi: means Fruits of Ice”. It will become hot season soon, so I hope you buy it if you were in Japan! You can get this at the combini shops.

Creative Direction: Ezaki Glico Co., design division. Art Direction: Ing associates inc. Design: Shotype Design

A happy new year 2009.

Friday, January 16th, 2009

A belated happy new year! I can’t believe that half a month has already passed. I couldn’t anything I had to finish at all. I hope to upgrade this site, but I fail to do it again this year, unless I will make a schedule for sure.

To accomplish my goal, I went New Year’s visit to Tomioka Hachimangu shrine 富岡八幡宮 in Koto Ward, Tokyo. I wished for everything would get better. I am also looking forward to seeing what happen to type design world in this year and I hope to meet with new people who is interested in type design.

Left: Tomioka Hachiman shrine. Right: New year’s cards for my design office.

A coffee meeting with Ian Lynam

Saturday, May 31st, 2008

15:07 p.m. In front of the JR Shinjuku station, the East ticket gate. Ian didn’t come yet. The time we promised to meet was already passed. I called him. I thought this was the first time I called a native English speaker. “Hi! where are you now?” He seemed to wait at the Central East ticket gate. I thought my explanation might have been wrong to tell him where the meeting place was. And then, I found he was coming toward me.

Ian and I kept in touch with each other since we met last meeting, but we didn’ t have enough time to meet together due to our hard schedule, so we couldn’t arrange the meeting for a while. I’ve been wondering whether the meeting was held for sure, but we decided the meeting day at last! As I thought it was a rare chance to meet with an interesting type guy, I decided I would take my friends, Yutaka Ozawa, who started solo project for Japanese font recently, and Akira Yoshino, who worked for a famous publisher in Japan and is also a moderator on MyFonts com forum, together.

After giving self introduction, we shared each other’s works. First, Ozawa-san showed his East-Asian style Calligraphy works, he also do Western Calligraphy though, and he showed his new type design in progress. Second, I showed Ian my portfolio included my package designs, logo designs and digital type faces that I’m going on. Ian seemed to be interested in my works, so he told me some opinion and asked some questions. And at last Yoshino presented some novels he worked for to Ian.

Ian asked Ozawa some questions about Ozawa’s Calligraphy works and also asked a question to Yoshino about the letter space for Japanese punctuations cited the mystery novel Yoshino brought. Ian often used Japanese text for his works, so he seemed to be interested in Japanese fonts and typography. Ian asked us some questions from Western style point of view. He pointed out Japanese custom. He seemed to be curious the difference between Japanese and Latin text.

I felt silly that I couldn’t explain fluently about my works in English. There seem to be some type guys in Japan who comes from overseas, so I would like to communicate with them. I’ll try to get a chance and plan a meeting at some point.

Thank you for coming in spite of a rainy day, Ian. I hope we’ll meet again soon.

P.S.
He also wrote this meeting on this blog “Viewers Like You”. Thakns, Ian!

TypeCon 2007 Typecrit video

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

I went to attend TypeCon Seattle 2007 last year. This was the first time for me to go a type conference was held on overseas. I got a chance to take type critique named “Ten minutes type critique” known as a regular event on TypeCon. Now you can find the audio and specimens on the critique that was held on TypeCon Seattle 2007 on YouTube.

TypeCon Seattle 2007: Typecrit 1 of 4

I recorded everything so that I could listen them after I’d back to home, because I didn’t think I could listen everything due to lack of my English skills,

Eben Sorkin, was one of designers joined 10 minutes critique, asked me to get the audio and he proposed we should provide this audio to every one who was curious about this event. And then, he compiled several photos, specimens, and movies to edit this audio and uploaded to YouTube.

The 10 minutes type critique is a regular event of TypeCon. Three critics provide their opinions to the attendees watching submitted type designs. Matthew Carter, John Dawner, and Akira Kobayashi were the critics at that time. Every attendee have 10 minutes only. They explained their concept and asked critics several questions within 10 minutes. The audience also asked their question about attendees works.

photo:The member list of 10 minutes type critique on the wall of front desk.
I wrote my name third place after someone quit to attend. Great!

This critique was very useful and helpful learning designing typeface. Not only I got several opinions from three critics but also it was useful to hear the opinions to the other designers.
I could understand easily where he important point was or how I should compare with the difference in the element. I’m pretty sure it is worth listening.

I couldn’t believe some famous type designers attended this type crit. Gabriel Meave, who is a really gifted type designer, attended this crit to show his font “Darka”, as you know, got the TDC prize. I though he didn’t need to join this crit because he could do everything! The other two Mexican type designers were also talented. AtypI conference will be held in Mexico City in next year. I guess type design in Mexico must be better to improve drastically.

At the farewell party of TypeCon Seattle, Mr. Dawner told me I should bring my revised type design to Buffalo. Thanks, Mr. Dawner!

P.S.
Related thread on Typophile.
TypeCon 2007 Typecrit video

National Treasures from Yakushi-ji and The Lantingji Xu

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008

For big fan of ancient Buddhist art, especially for those who hunt National treasures, it was very exciting season and busy to go to museums where hold the exhibition during Golden week holiday. I went to Tokyo National Museum in Ueno park to see the Exhibition of National Treasures from Yakushi-ji Temple. Last week, I went to Shin-Yakushi-ji Temple to see the Twelve generals, and this time, I could see the bronze sculptures of Nikko(日光), means the sun, and Gakko(月光), means the moon, made in Hakuo period (A.D.672-686) as National Treasures.

That’s a good chance that you’ll be able to see the back shot of the sculptures. In most cases, a statue set on the proper place in the hall of temple, you would not be able to see it from behind of it. However, in this exhibition, every statues were standing alone and displayed without their nimbus, besides, there was a deck in front of the Nikko and Gakko so that visitors could see on the same level with both of statues. So I could tell the difference of these looking between the one when I saw on the deck and the other when I could see from lower point.

The appearance of Buddha statue changes depending on where you look at it from. I walked around every bodhisattva statue to find out the best view, but it was hard to decide it. As bodhisattva statue twisted the body, so the outlines of the body gradually changed at every step I took. I enjoyed the variety of the lines.

At the Kichijouten (吉祥天), is also designated National Treasure, booth, it was hard to see it because a lot of people gathered in front of the Kichijouten picture like a wall. The museum staffs made the visitors move along not to stack in front of it, but the visitors tried to stay there as much as possible. Indeed, it was worth watching.

The number of works in this exhibition was small, but almost of them were designated as National Treasure or Important Cultural Properties. It must be rare chance to see them at once, I do recommend you go there. This exhibition is showing untill June 8, 2008.

After watching the Exhibition of Yakushi-ji temple, I went to another exhibition whoch was held at the same time in Tokyo National Museum on “The Lantingji Xuin(蘭亭序)”, which is one of the most well-known East Asian style Calligraphy works, but as I was exhausted to see the Yakushi-ji’s works, I couldn’t concentrate on the works of the exhibition “The Lantingji Xuin”. It was a pity that this exhibition will finish on May 6th, but I was relieved to know that another exhibition will be held at Edo-Tokyo Museum in this July named “The Palace Museum. A well-known treasure on Calligraphy” and will display “The Lantingji Xuin” works. I hope to see them again.

Take a walk to Shin-Yakushiji temple

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

After leaving from Shojudo (see previous topic), I went to Shin-Yakushi-ji Temple in a bit of hurry to get in time for closing time. The master of Shojudo told me it should took around 30 minutes by walk. It was hot day, so I was slightly sweaty. Japanese wisteria trees along the street budded and was almost blooming. To take a short cut, I went through a path linked to the hill where Shin-Yakushiji Temple stands on quietly. I felt Shin-Yakushiji was smaller than I expected.

The front door of the main hall was closed, so I entered to the inside from left side, and then I could see the Juni-Shinsho statues: The twelve divine generals, stood on the floor surrounding the Yakushi-nyorai statue. The inside of the room was dark, but a few candles lit the statues, I was impressed. I couldn’t wait to start watching closely, even though I should have pray the principal statue before watching them. I was really into these statues.

I guessed some of Japanese Mangas and animations had much influenced by the Buddha statue images. For example, the Bassara general, which is one of the Twelve divine generals, reminded me of the Katsuhiro Otomo’s “AKIRA”, which is SF manga. While the Four Heavenly Kings of Todai-ji Temple reminded me of the Gundam, which is the most well known Japanese robot animation, and I could find some common characteristics between these images.

One of the reasons I like the Juni-Shinsho statues was that every statue has its own characteristic looking each. They were soldiers to protect Yakushi-nyorai. I thought they seemed to play their roll saving the principal statue Yakushi-nyorai as if the characters in a fantasy story would try to save a heroine.

Japanese black ink stick, Sumi.

Monday, April 21st, 2008

My short trip to Nara was very good and comfortable because fabulous weather and the brilliant green leaves on the trees made me feel good.

I’d visited to almost of famous temples in Nara city, but the last one I’ve never visited before was Shin-Yakushiji, which is famous for several Buddha statues designated National Treasures such as Yakushi-Nyorai and Juni-Shinsho: The twelve divine generals, So I’d been looking forward to seeing them.

At the JR Nara station, when I looked for a map for tourists to Nara, I happened to get a free sightseeing guidebook of Nara city. I found an interesting photo on an ink stick, which was called Sumi in Japan, and I decided to go to the shop before visiting to Shin-Yakushiji. The shop’s name was Shoujudo “松寿堂” located in an old town. It took about ten minutes to go there from the station by foot.

I hesitated to enter the shop for a while because its facade seemed to be an old-established and really high-toned, but the owner was very happy and welcomed to enter the shop. The inside of the shop was very beautiful and traditional Japanese style, there were many Japanese-traditional furnitures such as wooden step-like chest of drawers.

The master showed me some products, which were the same ones on the guidebook, and explained how to make them. According to the master, the Sumi made in Nara is called Nara Sumi, which has been for more than 600 years since Muromachi period to provide for demand from the temples, mainly Kofuku-ji temple, in Nara area. Shojudo has been making Nara Sumi scince 1865, Edo period, and designated as a royal warrant shop. There were a few Sumi makers in this district a few years ago, but now, Shojudo is the only shop around there. And then, he showed me a Sumigata, the decorative wooden molds made from Asian Nashi, Asian pear, used to form ink sticks.

As I remembered that Prof. Hermann Zapf mentioned about a Japanese ink stick in the movie “The Art of Hermann Zapf”, I told him that I’ve heard some of Calligraphers not only East-Asian style but also European style used a Japanese Sumi as a black ink. Then I proposed him that he would introduce Sumi to Calligraphers who lives in Europe area. The master was very interested in this topic.

I bought two pieces of Sumi that shaped lovely Japanese deer, which lived in Nara Park and was considered sacred of Kasuga Taisha shrine, in a small box of paulownia wood.
It was a pity that I didn’t have much time left to get until the Shin-yakushiji temple would be closed. I hoped I would like to visit again so that I could get enough time to chat with the master.

(Above) The wooden shop signages and “Noren: 暖簾”, which is a store curtain hanged on the shop entrance, read “古梅園: Kobaien”on another shop that I found out during return to the Nara station from Shin-Yakushuji temple. (Lower right) The letter “墨: Sumi”, which means ink stick.

Shotype.com launched.

Tuesday, April 1st, 2008

I started my design office and my blog today. I’ve been thinking about that I try to introduce situation on type design and typography in Japan, because there seemed to be nothing English language web site concerning Japanese type design.

Although I didn’t know which is the best tool for my blog, I set up WordPress for a starter. I have a lot of work on my plate to revise this site, but I wanted to start this at April 1st so that I could excuse that it was April fool if I would not continue to post topics to this blog.

I have to say I’m not good at English, so I need to excuse my English skills in advance. I would appreciated if you had find out my mistake and let me know about it. Any suggestion and comment would be appreciated. Thanks!