Interview by Ichibo Harada
- Born in Yokohama, Kanagawa prefecture. Currently a freelance illustrator.
Hidari launched his first website in 2000 and started to publish doujinshi online. The artist has worked on pin-ups for magazines, trading card games, character designs for PC and other consumer games, illustrations for novels, and more.Major works include illustrations for the light novel Usotsuki Mii-kun to Kowareta Maa-chan from AMW Dengeki Bunko, character concepts for the TV anime series Fractale, Natsuiro Kiseki, and The Magnificent Kotobuki, and character designs for games including the Atelier Dusk series, the Toukiden: The Age of Demons series, Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia, and others.
A freelance debut right off the bat
── When and how did you make your debut?
── So you started working as a freelancer right off the bat?
── What was your perception of the job of an illustrator back then?
The year 2000, when I was introduced to internet culture and doujinshi, can be considered the beginning of the rise of digital illustration. While I had an idea of what an illustrator did, it wasn't a profession I was familiar with, which is why I had always wanted to be a mangaka. Actually, I did draw a manga for a job once: a one-shot for the first issue of Manga Time Kirara Forward.
── I heard you started drawing digital illustrations after being inspired by Kouhaku Kuroboshi.
I saw Kouhaku Kuroboshi's illustrations on the cover of a magazine at a friend's house and mistook them for pastels. But my friend told me that they were all made on a computer! I was surprised to learn that digital tools could create such a soft and delicate atmosphere, so I decided to give it a shot and began drawing illustrations on a computer myself.
My friend also told me that Kuroboshi was active in an IRC (Internet Relay Chat), an equivalent of today's Discord, I guess. Being able to interact with famous people in real time was quite astounding before social media existed, so I joined various illustrators' IRC channels and shared my artwork with them, hoping for feedback. There are many illustrators who, like me, began their careers on IRC and are now working in the industry.
── Who are some other creators who have influenced you?
The charm of unconventional elements such as braces and beauty marks
── The girl on the cover of your artbook vioLet is wearing braces, isn't she?
── In addition to the braces, you tend to emphasize elements that are typically overlooked in bishoujo illustrations, such as beauty marks.
── It's thanks to those raw details that your female characters appeal to girls, too. They exude a confident, self-assured aura.
── You were involved in the character design and package illustration for the history-themed game Sid Meier's Civilization Revolution 2+ (2015, 2K). You portrayed Abraham Lincoln with his trademark mole, didn't you?
── Rather than specific models or themes, it appears that your leit motif is this blend of realism and stylization, regardless of what you're drawing.
── You also work as a lecturer at the university. What is something you often teach your students?
Feeling frustrated after every artwork
── Tell us about your current working environment.
── Is there a particular stage in your drawing process, such as sketching, the rough draft, or coloring, that you pay special attention to?
── What was the turning point in the 20 years of your career as an illustrator?
── From what you just told us, your quest for the perfect balance of realism and stylization has been going on for quite some time.
── Why do you think you've been able to work as an illustrator for over 20 years?
── Even an accomplished illustrator like yourself gets frustrated from time to time, right?
── Even so, are there any works that you're relatively happy with?
Hidari's first solo exhibition and an artbook reflecting on his journey so far
── Between your first artbook, vioLet, and your first solo exhibition, Lapse, the month of June is full of firsts for you.
── First, what are the highlights of the artbook?
── Now that you mention it, Lapse also has a capital 'L'! What can you tell us about the highlights of your solo exhibition?
── Tell us about the main visual you designed for the exhibition.
── What are your future plans after your first artbook and solo exhibition?
Hidari's solo exhibition, Lapse, is open through June 28th!
The exhibition will showcase a carefully selected collection of 42 artworks spanning the 20 years of Hidari's career. The exhibition showcases the trajectory of Hidari's activities, ranging from character design to illustration. Whether you're a fan of Hidari or not, come and explore the exhibition! A variety of original merchandise is available for purchase.
Dates: Friday, June 9th, 2023 to Wednesday, June 28th, 2023 - 7:00 pm
Days closed: None
Address: Tokyo, Shibuya City, Jingumae, 5 Chome-46-1 TWIN PLANET South BLDG. 1F
Hours: 12:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.