Encounter the beauty of a poster / NORIO NAKAMURA

“Encounter the beauty of a poster” is a theme for the graphic designers who are a part of the project “POSTERS”. A journey about how they start paying attention to posters and its graphic, follow up to the works and projects that influenced them when they were young, until to their success and how they find their own way in creating.

I've loved movies and anime since I was a kid. When I was in the 4th grade of elementary school, a train was connected from the station where I lived, to Shibuya. So I started to go to Shibuya to watch movies. My favorite cinema at that time was the Tokyo Cultural Center “Panteon” (currently “Hikarie”). I liked the huge signboards seen from the station, the cool posters, the large lobby, and the unique smell. When I got older, I noticed that the smell of the movie theater that I liked was the smell of offset print paper in addition with coke and popcorn. (laugh)
Surrounded with posters, flyers, pamphlets, my stay at the movie theater gave my younger self a special space.

The first poster I bought was the Galaxy Express 999 (Ginza Tetsudou 999). I bought it at the anime shop attached to the Pantheon. I liked serializing 4-frame manga and drawing pictures for school newspapers, but the world of "999" was out of this world. It was incredible how an anime can express a story. I was completely overwhelmed. I still remember, when I put the poster on the wall and starred at the blue universe and the silver letters, I always start thinking about my future. I overlap myself with the hero who rides the train and got interested about expressions.

“The Galaxy Express 999” movie version poster(1979)

When I entered high school, I became interested in clothes and idols, and for a while I wasn't into painting. After graduation I got my interest for art again and entered the Nihon University College of Art. At that time, I followed NHK’s TV talk show "YOU" moderated by Shigesato Itoi. Every week, there were artists as guests who were already named. Many of them studied at Nihon University, that was also a reason why I chose this university. I’ ve applied for three subjects. Film studies, broadcast and arts, but only got accepted for arts. So I decided to go to the Ekoda campus that I longed for, but at this time I had no idea about design and at what area I wanted to be focused on.

In the latter half of the 1980s, Ikebukuro, which was a transfer station to Ekoda, got more and more developed into a “Seibu culture” like the Seibu Museum of Modern Art, PARCO and art book “VIVANT.”Advertising posters where shining as the cutting edge of the times all over the city. Ikebukuro was the origin of culture, completely different than now. When you exit the JR ticket gate, you saw Katsumi Asaba's "Nishi-Take Hyakkaten", Katsuhiko Hibino and Noriyuki Tanaka's art, Shigesato Itoi's copy, Tsuguya Inoue's "PARCO" poster etc. When you enter the Seibu Ikebukuro Line, Takuya Onuki's "Toshimaen" posters were posted everywhere. As you can imagine the latest posters where all around the station and this was so impressive for me. Every time when I passed there, it was like an exhibition route for me, and let me want to start working as soon as possible as a designer.

“The pool is cool” poster
Oonuki Takuya(1986)
Poster of Exhibition “Ikko Tanaka: Crossroads of Design”, Sezon Museum of Modern Art(1987)

After graduating from university, I joined CBS Sony (currently Sony Music Entertainment). At the beginning I worked in the design department and created CD Covers and advertising posters. In the 90's, during the heyday of music CDs, the band Kome Kome Club had a series of hit songs, and the company was always in a festive mood. Yutaka Kimura of Central67 and Tetsuma Maki, the film director, were also in the design department to which I was first assigned. I got a lot of inspiration from my colleagues of the same generation, but I wasn't very active and soon moved to the development department.
It was a transfer with an ambition also a sense of defeat as a designer, but there was a fateful project. I worked with Masahiko Sato for several projects like planning for auditions, launching manga magazines, project for “Maywa Denki”, developing Playstation game "I.Q" etc. Maybe planning and development suited me, anyways through this job, I got a completely different perspective for design. What I’ ve learned there, I still use it as my starting point for my design.

“Sony Music Entertainment Presents ART ARTIST AUDITION ‘94” Poster, Norio Nakamura(1994)
Photo:Jun Mitsuhashi
Debut visual of "Maywa Denki" which won a design grand prize。

Meanwhile, I also initiated independent design projects. The first original poster I made was for an exhibition at the Museum of Art of Sao Paulo in 1995. Then I got invited by TDC (Tokyo Type Directors Club). An exhibition in which Japanese graphic designers participated under the theme of "Japanese". I remember working very nervously among the great designers such as Taku Satoh, Kenya Hara, and Yasuhiro Sawada. The work was a B0 sized poster where human body parts laid out. For creating this I used the power of macintosh 8100 that I bought at the time, and made it with illustrator in the middle of the night when I got home from the office. The illustrator software, which could draw lines perfectly was fun and new for me. When I got asked about the concept of the work, I answered plausibly, "Human body structures are all the same, there is no race." I said intellectually, but honestly, I just wanted to play around with the latest illustrator tools.

Close-up of Japan São Paulo Poster, Norio Nakamura(1994)
NY ADC Silver Award

Nowadays, the role of posters has changed a lot, but I think that designers still play an interesting role in the ability to perform visually in any media.
For this project "POSTERS", I was allowed to use high quality paper and printing, it was a simple joy for me. I hope it will be valued by people as a collectible same like I do for posters and records.

See Posters of Norio Nakamura