Article by Ichibo Harada @HEW
Illustrator Jun's first solo exhibition SWORD'S & FOOD'S has opened on September 24 (Fri) at pixiv's WAEN GALLERY in Omotesando, Tokyo, and will continue until October 13 (Wed), 2021. The exhibition features over 300 pieces, including illustrations from the popular series TABEGIRL and Takehime Weapons, as well as commercial works.
Jun is an illustrator at CyDesignation, where he works in character design and illustration production, while also developing personal projects. Today, we asked him the secret behind being able to create and publish works consistently despite his busy schedule.
Works with a solid concept will get noticed
── What's your story, Jun?
── Do you have a fondness for the game industry?
If it wasn't for manga and video games, I wouldn't have become an illustrator. When I was in elementary school, I fell in love with Akira Toriyama's works and Kentaro Miura's settings had a strong influence on me. In terms of games, I love Farland Saga, Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and Super Robot Wars... Video games are where my roots are!
── It's great to hear such passionate words! How did you start working on your own illustrations under the name "Jun the Illustrator"?
── When you say that your followers increased, was that because of TABEGIRL and Takehime Weapons?
── It has become somewhat of a trend to tag drawings of girls eating #TABEGIRL, and it all started from your work.
I make up a story and draw the one most exciting scene
── What's important when drawing many works on a single theme, like you do with TABEGIRL and Takehime Weapons?
── So you imagine a backstory for each picture?
I do. When I was a child, I used to look up to manga artists and play make-believe with settings, which brought me to imagine stories for my illustrations as well. In my fantasy illustrations I like to draw battle scenes, and I have a clear idea of why they're fighting, what they've done, and what will happen next. Once I have the story in mind, I draw the one most exciting scene. I pick a single scene among all that's happening in my mind.
── Which is why your illustrations also tickle the viewer's imagination.
── In TABEGIRL, how do you manage to draw such mouth-watering food? The harder I try to draw food, the worse it ends up looking...
── I see. The more details you add, the more piecemeal and jagged the drawing becomes, taking away from the softness that one should go for.
Vague affirmations like "I'll do my best" are dangerous
── You work for a company and also on personal projects. How long do you spend on your illustrations every day?
── With so much to do every day, are there times when you can't draw as well as you'd like?
── Have you always been good at determining when you need a breather?
── Many understand the importance of turning their switches on and off, but fail to put the theory into practice.
── In other words, it's not just about "doing one's best", it's about giving your schedule a structure.
── So there is a logical ingenuity behind the fact that you can consistently publish personal works while working as a company employee.
── It's like a gut feeling backed up by logic.
Basic drawing knowledge allows you to dare
── You have been studying drawing in earnest since your school days, and at one time you worked part-time at an art school. Because of your artistic knowledge, do you ever have trouble balancing reality and the little lies you have to tell to make the illustration look good?
── Since you always end up tossing the theory away, wouldn't it be the same to just not study the basics of drawing at all?
There's a big difference between tossing away the theory from the beginning and setting it aside after studying it. Of course, each person has their own way of doing things, but sometimes basic drawing knowledge allows you to pick some good dares.
If your work doesn't go viral, it doesn't mean it's bad
── You often use earthy colors and other subdued tones. How do you make sure that your illustrations don't look plain?
── What is the most time-consuming part of your drawing process?
── You post videos of your work process on Instagram, right? I was surprised to see how sometimes you start over from scratch halfway through the drawing. How do you decide that something is not right?
── What's something to keep in mind when posting your work on social media?
The pleasure of your own drawings going viral may be a strong motivating force, but just because it didn't happen it doesn't mean they're not good. In the end, you have to grit your teeth and draw on. No matter how talented you are, everyone has problems. There's no creator without issues. Of course, if I could just come to terms with that I guess I wouldn't have to grit my teeth at all (laughs)... I think the only way to find your own path is to keep suffering a bit.
How "Jun the Illustrator" was born
── Tell us about the key visuals for your first solo exhibition SWORD'S & FOOD'S.
── What are the hightlights of the exhibition?
── What are your future plans as an illustrator?
── Thank you very much!
Jun's first solo exhibition "SWORD'S & FOOD'S" is now open!
Exhibition period: Sep 24th (Fri) - Oct 13th (Wed)
Location: Tokyo, Shibuya, Jingumae 5-46-1 TWIN PLANET South BLDG. 1F
Opening hours: 12:00 - 19:00
- After working for a game company as a 3D designer, he is now in charge of character design and illustration at CyDesignation.Independently, he is active in a wide range of fields and also illustrates light novels and other publications.In 2014, he started posting his sketches on social media where he still publishes his original illustrations.