Interview by Ichibo Harada @HEW
- Illustrator. Active in many fields, including character design, key visual creation, apparel, sake label design, and collaboration cafés. Their original work mostly features characters spending a blissful time surrounded by sweets and fashionable items. In their designs and ideas, they value both the elegance of adults and the playfulness of children.
Experience as a DTP artist
── Your first post on pixiv dates back to 2014. When did you start drawing?
── Did you always want to be an illustrator?
── It must've been quite a big decision to leave the stable income of your company job to become a freelancer.
Pitching what you're good at works better than drawing just about anything
── Does your experience as a DTP artist help you in your current job as an illustrator?
── I see, so it was an environment that allowed you to learn the basics of design.
── As an illustrator, you have been involved in many collaboration projects. I guess your experience as a company employee plays to your clients' advantage, because you have an overall idea of the job.
── Do you keep your deadlines?
── I think the idea of contacting the client in advance when things might not go as planned denotes your good grasp of the overall workflow. It's much better for the client to get a word in advance than to wait until the last minute just to end up disappointed. (laughs)
── On your official website, you clearly state what you're good at drawing and what kind of work you enjoy. Were you also putting yourself in your clients' shoes when you decided to add this information?
Combining and rearranging the things you've seen
── You are well known for your designs based on a single motif, like your dessert gijinka characters, Chocolate Cake 6 Sisters (チョコケーキ6姉妹). How much do you value input in your work?
── I love how you made use of apple peel in the dress design for an illustration promoting a "sake & apple juice" set. How did you come up with the idea?
── Based on what you told us, you don't sound so much like an "inspiration" person, but rather like someone who combines ideas based on a wealth of input.
Encouraging an emotional connection by balancing this world and the world next door
── Your fashion designs are original, but not too eccentric and are always something that could very well exist in reality. Do you pay attention to that kind of balance?
── I guess the fact that your designs are so grounded in reality is part of the reason why you often get apparel-related jobs. In your collaboration with Sanrio, you managed to design the type of outfits that Pon Pon Purin fans may as well be wearing in real life. You cover a wide range of styles when it comes to fashion, don't you?
── Turning insecurities into strengths can prove useful in many aspects of people's lives, even unrelated to work.
The importance of size and vibrance when conveying information
── Your illustrations are very elaborate, down to the smallest of particulars. How do you keep the overall picture from looking too loaded while not skimping on detail?
── Drawing too many details can make it hard for the viewer to focus on the main subject...
── I heard you also change the thickness of your line art according to what you're drawing.
── Tell us about your working environment. What software do you use?
── If we take a closer look at your illustrations, it's clear that you don't use that many colors. How do you keep your illustrations from looking dull even while limiting the number of shades you use?
── Does even a popular illustrator like you sometimes fall into a slump? How do you get out of it?
── How do you make your girl characters look so cute?
── What are the poses that instantly make a girl look lovely?
A solo exhibition at pixiv WAEN GALLERY is a dream come true
── What are the highlights of your solo exhibition?
── What's the meaning behind the title of your exhibition, Plaisir?
── How did you come up with the main visual for your solo exhibition, featuring that striking lemon tart headdress?
It took me quite a long time to come up with this artwork. (laughs) At first, I thought about using red as the main color, since it's a color that's often related to main characters, and draw an illustration with a strawberry motif. However, it was hard to come up with a color scheme that would suit my style, so I decided to use lemons, which I've always liked to draw. This character, Emma, is a girl I've drawn many times in the past and have a special attachment to.
── Do you have any goals for the future?
Akakura's first solo exhibition "Plaisir" is now open!
The exhibition features about 50 illustrations, including both Akakura's original works and works created in collaboration with Hololive and Sanrio.
Akakura's attention to detail is reflected in the space's interior design, including a café-style interior with an impressive striped pattern. The exhibition will also offer wonderful limited edition goods, such as layered acrylic panels that allow visitors to enjoy the illustrations in 3D and posters with a Japanese paper-like finish.
Exhibition period: May 13 (Fri) ~ June 1 (Wed), 2022
Location: Tokyo, Shibuya, Jingumae 5-46-1 TWIN PLANET South BLDG. 1F
Opening hours: 12:00 - 19:00