2 04, 2017

Obsession over rubber stamps

As I travelled around Japan, I realized that there are so many rubber stamps on every check point, such as stations, museum, castle, and other touristic places. Each of these humongous stamps has their own unique illustration representing the respective place.

The obsession over rubber stamp in Japan started with Goshuin. It’s a stamp given to the visitors of a temple or shrine by the monk. Normally the stamps collected in a book called shuincho. Bring the book to the monk in the temple, and they are going to stamp and write on top of it.

The Japanese keen on illustration and craftsmanship make the existence of this traditional kind of souvenir still going on even until now. As you can see on the book of rubber stamp of Japanese stations, almost all illustration seemed handcrafted. They are grungy and not perfect. The rounded stamp is normally around 3.5inch wide. It makes the detail visible enough.

Collecting stamps all over Japan is definitely a must for designers and artists. It’s a free souvenir that you can’t get tired of collecting.

21 03, 2017

Japan modesty and eye for detail

I travelled for Japan last week. Although, this wasn’t my first tine to land on the country of the rising sun, but it was my first time to spent a whole week wandering around Kansai area and a little bit of an old village.

Japan has always been interesting to me since I was a child. Growing up with Japanese animation, I’ve learned a little but of their culture.

And then I started to have some Japanese friends whom I met all over the place. From them I learned more deeply about how Japanese treat other one another.

When I was in Tokyo, I visited a Japanese friend and we had a dinner together with her foreign husband. We had a really interesting discussion about Japan. I told them that I was fascinated about Japanese design. Just about the high quality of product, graphic design, food, crafts, etc.

For me the use of use of colors, fun composition, out of the grid design, and expressive (sometimes over dramatic) photographs really reflect the creative aspect of the people. Even though they are over creative on making design composition, I felt that everything is Fibonacci Perfection.

 

I wonder if the use of Kanji took part on defining how Japanese design looked like. The combination of Kanji, Katakana and Hiragana are like a simple drawing in a sentence. Could be challenging as designer need to balance white space between each letter on a sentence. But it gives them also something to play with with the composition and be more creative in it.

Another advantages of using Kanji is on the way they used to write it. As before they use brushes to write, they have to do it precisely. Because there’s a need to add pressure on certain part of the text, which train them to be more detail on thing.

This discussion on detail leads us to a discussion of Japanese people themselves. The husband of my friend is a foreigner who can fluently speak Japanese and has been living there for a long time. He made a good point when he said that Japanese people are emotional. They have been through many natural disaster and because of that they appreciate and respect what they have now. It was a good point and I agree it made what they are now.

Japanese people who are into detail appreciate little things such as how they give back coin changes at a drug store, wrapping up presents, or presenting food (at the restaurant or convenience store). They are not the happiest people on earth but they respect things and cherish human relationship with goods and nature.

 

My Japanese friend, make a lot more sense opinion on a different perspective. She said that Japanese are mostly shy people. That is why they express their feeling through art, design, poem, writing, or what ever action they would do without saying much. Which explain why every Japanese ads are expressive and sometimes over dramatic.

Emotion and shyness are kind of coherent with each other. So three of us were on the same page.

Learning about how culture defines design presentation is interesting. Japan has thought me so much about this. It has been an interesting journey in Japan.

8 03, 2017

Yayoi Kusama at National Art Center

I was lucky enough to visit The National Art Center Tokyo when I came to Japan. Yayoi Kusama’s My Eternal Soul collection was being held with many new painting and sculptures.

When I entered the first exhibition room, the wall was filled with her new paintings. The collection looked more like a patches cloths as all the paintings put next to each other. Like it was meant to be with each others. The center of the room has 2 big sculptures of a flower that were ready to eat you alive (not literally, ofcourse).

Her theme is pretty clear. It was about love of nature as always, but this time, the color are more vibrant, contrast and brave. For me, some of her new paintings were like inspired by viruses, the 80’s, and potentially reggae culture.

As we go further into the next room, we could see some of her past work. Including the famous infinity mirror room. The one I visited was the fireflies one. It was a room filled with hanging small LED lights reflected by mirror from the wall sides, water from the floor, and another mirror on the top. It was surreal and very fascinating. Too bad picture not allowed.

Outside, there was a pop up room, where visitors were given stickers and they can put circles anywhere they liked. When I came, it was full with stickers already. Made me wonder how was it fell like to be one of the first visitors. I must had more options.

For a 88 years old artist, she had done a lot during this past 3 years. I am surprised and did not expect that both her recent exhibition in Tokyo and Washington D.C. were filled with new work. Her work has been developing since forever. Never boring, always different and exciting. Hope she’s blessed with more ideas so that she could keep inspiring.