words: akiko watanabe
Yoshirotten is one of the most active graphic artists in Tokyo. Centered around his visual works, his passion is also deeply connected to music, which has led him to organise music events and also dj under the unit name YATT.
During the week, he works for a number of clients as a graphic artist and spends late nights and weekends dedicated to music. When not in Japan, he travels abroad and has some unexpected encounters which expand his universe that only grows bigger and bigger. Basically, he is non-stop Yoshirotten.
At first sight, his works might appear 'pop' in style, but when you take a second glance, you notice they are not so simply pop, actually they can be quite decadent and carry strange twists that you don't know how to gather all at once. We are very pleased to present a part of Yoshirotten's universe here for the next few pages, which invites you to his visual message in its massive diversity.
Tell us about yourself and the brief history. I am a Tokyo-based graphic artist and an art director. My work is mainly around music and fashion, designing the album covers of various artists and contributing my designs to some fashion brands, also I do some corporate collaborations too. I worked at a design studio for 5 years from the age of 19, then set up my own studio afterwards.
What was your first encounter or awareness of design? As a child, my home was right at the bottom of a mountain. All friends lived sort of far so I was used to playing with my fantasies alone, also I was drawing a lot. By then, I probably understood the value of nature and the landscapes in the countryside, so thinking back, the impact and absorbing power when I first encountered the record sleeves and fashion that were imported from abroad was so immense. I think I was around 14 years old. There was a huge wall which could be seen from a bridge by the highway - I drew `x` endlessly, I was 16 years old and that was maybe my first artwork.
What's your perspective towards music, what are you deeply connected to? Who's your current favourite artist? Before moving to Tokyo, I used to organise very underground music events at some strange places like old ruins, which is not so easy to do in Tokyo. I'm also a part of dj team called YATT, and there I produce music too. I guess music is one of the most important elements of creating freedom within myself. So I am truly blessed to be related to music with my design, and have encounters with artists. My current favourite artist...hmm, there are so many but I listen to DUMP very often in the studio!
Not only for Japanese clients but you are also working a lot for clients abroad. How has it been expanding? Also do you find any differences between them? I travel a lot and try to have my works seen by as many people as possible, so I make zines and leave them wherever I go. I also directly contact some people I would like to work with. Sometimes it happens that I meet some talented people by accident, or I get a direct contact from an artist too.
What I feel about the difference between them is that the foreign clients let me create more freely. In Japan, often the obvious things have a better reaction.
Who's your favourite contemporary artist? A collage artist who was active in the 50s, called Toshiko Okanoue. My most favourite.
What would you like to try, that you have not yet? I would love to work on a three dimensional design and the space design.
Lastly, what lies ahead of you right now? There will be a release of the book of my works from Gasbook and an exhibition alongside it.