Illustrator Ogipote's solo exhibition Hazuki is currently being held at pixiv WAEN GALLERY in Omotesando, Tokyo, through August 24, 2022. This exhibition features 80 works, mainly original illustrations, in a meticulously decorated space with a nostalgic atmosphere.
While the solid coloring and clear shading of anime-nuri style painting is easy for beginners to grasp, it can also be difficult, as it tends to become lackluster. We asked Ogipote about the techniques they have curated in their pursuit of a “refined anime-nuri” style.
- 荻pote (Ogipote)
An illustrator and Niigata Prefecture native, Ogipote produces works in many mediums centered around remarkable anime-nuri illustrations of bishoujo (beautiful young women). Their method of depicting emotional subjects and moments in time has been well received by many. They mainly get their energy from bananas and nattō and are also a proud insect collector.
"K-On!" was impactful
── Thanks for your time today. Your pen name has a cute ring to it.
── How long have you been taking commissions?
It'd be embarrassing if I said too much and gave away my age, but I got my first job back when I was in high school. Someone who created web comics as a hobby asked me to do some illustrations for them. I gradually got more requests, and while I was still in college, I began earning enough that I realized that I could live off of the money I made from just a single piece. So, after I graduated I worked as a freelance illustrator.
── Did you want to become an illustrator when you were younger?
I've loved creating things since I was a child, and I had a longing to work in a field related to pictures, but I didn't have any serious aspirations of becoming an illustrator, and I actually majored in education in college. I figured I could get a teaching license to use as a sort of escape route.
── So you didn’t go to art school?
── Could you tell us some works or creators that influenced you?
As far as influences go, I would say the works of Kyoto Animation, especially K-On!, had a big impact on me. The series’ realistic 2.5-dimensional motion and beautiful scenery accentuated with loads of effects is without a doubt where my style stems from.
── Have you always been a fan of anime and manga?
No, not at all. I became an anime otaku because of a friend in high school, and then I discovered Paint Tool SAI and started to create bishojo (beautiful young women) illustrations.
── So you had a completely different style before that?
For a long time, my art looked like my first post on my pixiv account. (laughs) I drew that one with Microsoft Paint back in junior high school. There are a lot of memories attached to that piece, so I can't bring myself to erase it.
Shading and Effects Change Anime-Style Paintings!
── You're quite good at the anime-nuri style of painting, which is easy for beginners to challenge themselves with, but can come off flat with just a few simple mistakes. Do you have any advice?
── How did you overcome that problem?
── How did you come to be so particular about anime-nuri? Were there periods where you tried other painting styles?
When I started illustrating with Paint Tool SAI, I referenced tutorials on YouTube, and I started by trying to emulate the anime-nuri I saw in those videos. I did try to play around with using other painting styles, but I never consciously decided to change anything. I didn’t really intend on becoming so engrossed with it, but I guess it's a style I’m naturally suited to. In addition to my beloved Kyoto Animation, I’ve long admired illustrators like Hiro Kanzaki, who have that same sort of heavenly dimension to their work. I believe that anime-nuri has a universal quality to it, and I'm determined to get closer to that level as well.
Creating illustrations filled with background details
── You pack your illustrations with so many details, like complex backgrounds with small objects and bits of glass reflecting details of light.
── Do you ever struggle to come up with ideas when creating such detailed illustrations?
── You must have quite the imagination!
── For example, in the illustration on the cover of your art book, you included things like a poster encouraging water conservation and soap. When I saw them, I remembered that those were indeed the sorts of things I’d see at a school sink, but I had completely forgotten until I had looked at the illustration. It’s incredible how you include those trivial things that would definitely be there.
It might be the case that I just have a strong visual memory, but I feel like the things that I’ve seen stick in my mind like a photograph. Along with those images sitting in my mind, I also newly reference material I can find on the internet and pour that into my illustrations.
── I heard that you’re from Niigata. Do the nostalgic settings of your illustrations reflect your personal experience?
── I feel like I understand the slight sadness that appears in your work! Do you ever go out to take reference photos?
── This is a simple question, but what is the sentiment behind blurring the backgrounds that you’ve drawn?
The most important thing is the character, and the background is nothing more or less than a complement. That being said, I’Il usually blur the backgrounds to the point I'm in tears. (laughs) I often intend to blur the backgrounds more, but I frequently end up changing my mind because of all the effort I put into them. In the end, even if I blur the backgrounds, I did draw them thoroughly. Drawing things in great detail is kind of a habit of mine.
Adding details to the pupil to make them stand out
── How do you come up with your ideas?
── Speaking of gimmicks, At what stage of the process do you decide on the effects?
── The pupils in your illustrations really stand out. When you’re drawing them, what sort of things are you keeping in mind?
The eyes of a character are an important point in an illustration, as they are the first thing that catches the viewer's eye. To really make the eyes stand out, I try to increase the amount of information present in the pupils. I’ll add rainbow highlights of refracted light, increase the amount of ambient light in the scene, or reflect the entire scene within the pupils of the character. If I do too much, the image gets quite cluttered, so keeping a balance is difficult.
── Listening to you, I get the impression that you are an illustrator with a keen sense of light and shade.
── You’re very generous in sharing your techniques with us, both in your videos on YouTube and in this interview, and I feel that you are a great help to aspiring illustrators.
No, no, I just like talking too much. (laughs) I’m aware that understanding the technique won’t suddenly make every single viewer able to reproduce it, but I’m also confident that with the right amount of exercise people will be able to get there. I just feel that my style can spice up everybody’s illustrations if that’s what you’re into.
The exhibition’s key visual best encapsulates summer
── Could you tell us about your art exhibition, Hazuki? The title also leaves quite the impression.
I chose to write Hazuki using the kanji for 'comet' to express the sparkle and energy of summer, which is my favorite season, as well as the fleeting nature of its instantaneous passing, while referring to the month of August (hazuki in the traditional Japanese calendar) in which the exhibition is held. For the main visual, I wanted to create a picture that would look best in summer, so I filled it with a fresh and refreshing feeling.
── I also heard that you were quite particular about the hall’s interior.
I made many difficult requests of the individual running the exhibition, but we were able to create as nostalgic a feeling as we could.
── Is there anything in particular you’d like visitors of the art exhibition to see?
── Finally, what are your goals for the future as an illustrator?
Ogipote’s solo art exhibition, “Hazuki”, is on display through August 24th!
Approximately 80 pieces will be on display. The exhibition’s interior and the merchandise for sale were designed around the themes of nostalgia and summer to create the exact art exhibition Ogipote dreamed of.
Event period: August 5th (Fri) to August 24th (Wed)
Days off: None
Address: Tokyo, Shibuya City, Jingumae, 5 Chome-46-1 TWIN PLANET South BLDG. 1F
Hours: 12:00 p.m. to 7 p.m. JST
Merchandise is also available online!
You can purchase some of the merchandise sold at the exhibition on BOOTH. Please check out the goods handpicked by Ogipote.