Takato YamamotoJuxtapoz // Saturday, 19 Sep 2009
Interview by Megumi Sakai
There is something about the unknown, when an exciting discovery shakes your brain, the flesh quivers, and the heart races just a little bit faster. Eyes pop open forward, with lips drying as the mouth gawks in sheer amazement. As an artist, this can be a regular occurrence when the talent of another is exposed for the first time. Witnessing technique or craft blended together of another’s style is a rewarding experience. It’s the beauty of being one who creates: You can marvel at others who do the same thing. When it's on, it rocks hard.
The perfect example is Japanese artist, Takato Yamamoto. Relatively unknown outside of Japan, there is a brilliance to his highly detailed illustrations that combine tight line work with moments of ukiyo-e, eroticism, bondage, ghostly images, and Bellmer-esque surrealism. Dark, with emotionless, stoic faces, the characters beautiful colors seem helpless, almost soft and doll-like in their positions. With four books already under his wing, Takato is prolific with a fantastic imagination, advancing the dynamics of his stylistic approach. For a fan of this genre, of illustrative embellishment, the work is amazing. Domo arigato Yamamoto-san. —CE
Megumi Sakai: How did you get to be an artist?
Takato Yamamoto: I drew illustrations for commercial advertising, mainly in the 1980s after graduating from art university. In the 1990s, I had the yearning for UKIYOE to the cut-in illustration book, the work such as cut-in illustrations and cover illustrations of novels, and wanting to draw before increases. After 2000, I mainly worked on original paintings.
What inspires you as an artist? Which inspirations help you to make your stile?
My basic theme is the image of the universe operation that has repeated the circulating generation (life) and dismantlement (death). I express symbolically the image to be a man's body as the main motif, while taking the image of a plant, an insect, and other various objects.
What is the process in creating one of your illustrations?
The character of the boy or the girl who becomes the face of the work is extracted from among the first hazy images. I multiply to imagine the image from that, and tie the form automatically, and then I start to draw the rough sketch of the line that becomes the blueprint of the work, is then made. After the rough sketch is done, I trace on canvas or paper and then paint.
What kind of tools and painting materials do you use for drawing?
Drawing the rough sketch I use pencil and mechanical pencils. And I start to draw on paper by pigment-ink or on canvas by an acrylic pigment, etc.
You have so many art works, all very detailed. How long you take to create one piece?
About one week with a small one. It takes one month or more when it is a large one. It rarely happens for it to take several months.
What is your process to create art works?
Day by day the artwork is changed by meeting something and someone and what image stands up into reality, the dream, and the illusion. Even I am expected for the unknown expression world to be created while enjoying those meeting.
Did you decide the concepts and titles for each of your art books by yourself? Those books are designed beautifully. Do you imagine the design for books or have ideas to tell the designer?
Books take about two years to complete. The whole time, I’m thinking and discussing with the planner and the editor of the book. We overview the art works for those two years, and we figured out the theme and title for them. And then we are thinking about the structure of the book. Furthermore I'd add some new art works. About the book design, we also talk and focus the image for the design.
Recently you released your original Tenugui: Washcloth. Do you want to do anything with another culture or different way of art in the future? Or are you interested in anything else?
Before I considered the size of the art book, there were comparatively a lot of small size works. Otherwise, recently I have had the chance to exhibit with a gallery. It has increased, I think the original work with a little larger size canvas will increased. Moreover I would like to try to draw the hanging scroll and the folding screen, by the technique of the Japanese style paintings.
Do you plan to publish any new books and or have any upcoming exhibitions to speak of? Any new styles or visions that you are approaching? And what about plans for overseas publishing or exhibitions? Let us know everything!
I’m in various exhibitions, and there will be books for all of them: Art Tapei 2009, Japonism at Span Art Gallery, and 100 Alice at Span Art Gallery as well.
For more information about Takato Yamamoto, contact Yamamototakato.com.