The age of COVID-19. With all the remote work and distance learning, it's no wonder that many are encountering a range of issues. Some may have a hard time dealing with online-only interactions, while some may find their own home unsuitable for the long hours of studying or working.
We interviewed Ryosuke Fukai, a creator who's always keen on tackling the challenges of the “new occupations” such as those of the illustrator and the VTuber producer.
Since he now does most of his work and meetings from home, we asked him for advice on the most common problems that our readers, who draw illustrations as a hobby or for work, often encounter while engaging in remote work. We will cover topics such as:
・The digitalization of work
・How to be productive when working remotely
・How to create an environment that encourages productivity
In the second half of the article, we'll face the age-old question: "What are the best PC specs for working at home?" and take a deep dive into the best PC recommendations and specs for illustration, as judged by a pro.
- Ryosuke Fukai
- Illustrator. Making use of his experience in industrial design, he has developed ARMS NOTE. This concept merges realistic gadgets and beautiful girls. It has already been made into Figma figures and was chosen as the protagonist of a solo exhibition in Akihabara. Currently, he is involved in creating VTuber illustrations in the VTuber circle 'DiSPLAYER' and also works as a VTuber producer. He is in charge of the monster designs for Guilty Crown DANCING ENDLAVES and Ultraman X as well as the 3D costume styling for Kagura Suzu and Yaezawa Natori.
Debuting as a mangaka in a rural area = meetings and assistants are online-only!
── How did you get started as a professional? What did your first work environment look like?
Up until then, I had been drawing manga by hand using pen and paper, but that job led me to get an LCD tablet and set up a fully-digital drawing environment.
As for the PC, I was already using one that I built myself. My father has always enjoyed building PCs as a hobby since the Windows 95 boom, so the first PC I got (and the first I ever used to draw digitally) during high school was also a hand-me-down from him.
── So your debut was as a manga artist! Was there a reason why you went full-digital?
Unlike today, I was living in my hometown in Oita Prefecture back then, so I think it’s great that I was able to work on the series without any major limitations, all thanks to digital drawing and the online environment. By going digital, I could also pass the data and materials to my friends, who would occasionally ask for drawing help, and we could check each other's work and receive the finished data.
── Since you lived in quite a rural area, were your meetings all online?
Yes, that's right. In those days, I was still having web conferences with the editors and the draft planners in charge of the project.
That series ended in 2014, and a short time later, a new trend came along that is still going strong to this day: using social media to get people to see your original work as it happened with Kiseki Himura's Tawawa on Monday.
That's when I started ARMS NOTE on Twitter, thinking that I wanted people to see what I was good at.
── ARMS NOTE has also been made into action figures and featured in a solo exhibition!
As I kept working on ARMS NOTE, I secretly hoped that someone would see it and eventually take action. Thankfully, soon after the release of the work, I received an offer from Magic Mold to make my work into a figure.
After that, I had the opportunity to turn the girls in the series into Figma figures, and in 2019, I was asked to do a solo exhibition in Akihabara, from October to November.
During the same period as the solo exhibition, I was also involved in other work: the planning of the ARMS NOTE collaboration events at the maid café AKIBA ZETTAI RYOIKI A.D.2045, also in Akihabara, where I helped plan the food collaboration and was in charge of designing the uniforms.
In 2019, the year of the ARMS NOTE exhibition, I moved from Oita Prefecture to Tokyo, which allowed me to have more face-to-face meetings, in addition to the online meetings that had been my norm up until then. Being able to check out the venue for yourself and seeing the real thing has its advantages when it comes to organizing solo exhibitions or working on making a figure, for example.
Working online as the producer of a VTubers group
── How did you start working on your VTuber project?
Coincidentally, that was also the time when the "posting your own works on social media" movement gave birth to another trend ー that of creators collaborating with each other to create new projects. An example of this is SSS by applibot (Triple S by applibot), in which Mai Yoneyama and BUNBUN took part. It was just the push I needed.
That's how I launched the "circle-type" VTubers project "DiSPLAYER" with my friend Pomp-chou, who I got to know through ARMS NOTE, and VTubers Yoshibana Kokoro and Rinka Raizenbain.
── DiSPLAYER is currently managing Yoshibana Kokoro and Rinka Raizenbain. How do you make things work?
I feel that our ability to communicate is what allows us to take on so many different challenges.
More than two months have passed since their debut in August 2020, and I'm happy to say that both VTubers are generating some buzz. We want more people to know about us and enjoy our work through personal challenges, collaboration projects, and utattemita song covers. But more than that, we want to focus on what we can do while having fun, without necessarily rushing to move forward.
We praise each other's strengths and point out each other's weaknesses, work them out, and make improvements. I feel that DiSPLAYER is made up of people who are capable of this much, including myself.
VTubers are really hot content that is constantly evolving and changing in many ways. I'm hoping that in the future there will be more "circles" like us and that this world will turn out to be even more fun.
This is how to tackle remote work! Fukai answers all of your questions!
A. Those who work as illustrators or designers tend to temporarily store all their data on their desktop, so I especially recommend an NVMe SSD mounted on the M.2 connector to improve your PC's reading and writing speed.
I am using the G-GEAR neo, which I ordered as a Build To Order from PC manufacturer Tsukumo. It's a gaming PC, but it's also customized for heavy use with image production software. The graphics card is a GeForce GTX 1080 Ti.
I use two types of storage: an M.2 SSD (500GB) in the C drive and a Western Digital HDD (3TB) for data storage.
As for the chair... You may not care much about it if you’re still a student, but watch out for back pain! I started to suffer from back pain from sitting too much when I was in my late twenties, so now I use an Okamura Baron chair while at the same time doing a lot of muscle training and other exercises.
The Aeron chair is often mentioned as a high-end chair, but according to office chair specialists, it's not actually a good fit for all those jobs that require you to lean forward, like you would do when using an LCD tablet, for example.
It may not have much to do with whether you are a professional or not, but making it a habit to "look up and check what you don't know" (about chairs, computers, whatever) while you’re still a student may make a difference in your future.
A. I like talking to people more than anything else, so the number of online meetings and occasions to chit-chat over the phone have been increasing for me as well over the course of this year. I use Sony's MDR-1AM2 headphones.
The sound quality is good and they aren’t too heavy, so it is not too much of a burden for me to wear them for a long time while working. The sound quality is excellent for a USB microphone, and the fact that you can mute the microphone with a simple touch of the device makes it easy to use.
I also posted a review video on my YouTube channel, if you'd like to check it out! (Self-advertising)
Smooth out your teleworking experience! Fukai reviews his TSUKUMO's PC, also supporting CLIP STUDIO!
The secret for successful remote working also lies in physical activity and mindfulness
── Is there anything in particular that you feel is fundamental to keep working remotely?
This may just be my personal opinion, but I think my body is my most important piece of hardware. So I try to maintain my physical and mental fitness. I care about these two things even more than I care about my PC or work environment.
Even if it's a daily shopping trip, I'll walk or ride my bike with my leg muscles in mind first, and then I'll try to do some long-lasting and hardcore strength training on a daily basis.
The reason I started going to the gym, which I now go to two or three times a week, was back pain from sitting and keeping the same posture for too long. As I gained strength and muscle tone, not only did the physical pain fade away, but I also feel more focused and mentally steady.
── It's surprising how much less you walk just by removing your morning commute...
When your exercise comes from your commute to school or work, you may have a sudden loss of stamina if you stop commuting. If you're a freelancer who doesn't really go out much, that sedentariness can cause your mental health to decline as well as your physical strength, and you may even find yourself unable to focus on your work or activities as much as you would like.
So in addition to maintaining and improving your stamina, it’s also important to allow your mind a change of pace. Even if you are a freelancer, if you think of yourself as a member of a team, rather than a lone worker, that may help your attitude towards your work.
── It all starts by making sure that your physical and mental state is robust enough, doesn't it?