Encounter the beauty of a poster / RYOSUKE UEHARA
“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 have to admit that I was a graphic nerd. When I was a student, I kept discovering new creators and falling in love with them. Began with Mark Kostabi, then Katsuhiko Hibino and Makoto Saito. I came across a book of Saito's works by chance in a bookshop, and was impressed about that there is someone in Japan who makes such cool graphical posters. I admired him so much.
I also liked foreign artists like Giovanni Pintori and Herbert Bayer. I studied textiles at university, but I didn't want to make clothes the same way as everyone else, I wanted to have my own approach. I took my inspiration in graphic-like textiles, so practically I insisted on drawing the motive before dyeing the fabric.
The first poster I got really impressed, was a Lacoste advertisement produced by DRAFT. When I was in high school, I remembered seeing it at a station in Sapporo and couldn’ t stop staring at it. I was impressed by the beautiful color gradation, even though it was just a layer of polo shirts. Even now I am amazed at the level of perfection of the advertising expression. At the time, I didn't know which company had created it, but when I was looking for a job a few years later, I found out that DRAFT had worked on it, which led me to join the company.
I made a lot of posters for DRAFT, but one of my most memorable early jobs was a poster for shoes brand MIHARA YASUHIRO. The founder Mihara was a classmate of mine at university, at the time he was already gaining attention as a young shoe designer. Mihara asked me to design posters and invitations for the opening of his shop. I had only been with DRAFT for two years and was still inexperienced, so I took charge of the design with the help of my senior colleague Hideki Hidaka as art director.
Hidaka's idea was to make the shoes look like a world map when composing them together. I tried to keep the dimensions of the shoes. As the production cost was limited, I had to take the photos by myself. The background texture was created by scanning masking tapes. About the details of this work, I was very particular.
At the same time I worked for Caslon bakery-café, a project that led to my subsequent collaboration with Yoshie Watanabe. It was a grand branding project that involved everything from the logo to signage design, the shop's tableware, uniforms and equipment, and various advertising and promotional tools. The final product was the poster, which evolved from the spiral logo and featured a bamboo dragonfly, a ring toss and a rose. My aim was to create an image of Caslon as a city with a blossoming culture.
The idea itself is simple, but the graphic expression is quite elaborated. I made a color copy of the Illustrator data, also took a photo of a real bamboo dragonfly and scanned it into data. Nowadays it's easier to judge the success or failure of an approach through techniques and knowledge. But when I was younger, I didn't know any shortcuts, so I tried different things and took many detours in my design. It took a long time.
Like posters for MIHARA YASUHIRO, the way photos and output combined was inspired by collage works of Makoto Saito. I was also influenced by artists such as Herbert Bayer, who I used to watch a lot when I was younger.
In 2005, I had a chance to adapt my unique design approaches into a real campaign. It was a Christmas campaign for Laforet Harajuku with theme of a decorated cake. The hurdle was that Laforet had a variety of sign boards. One of them has an unique shape like a tree. It was difficult to find a way to develop a design for it. After much deliberation, we came up with a solution of arranging small parts of decorations, which can be applied to any shape of a media. In particular, we had about 10 different elements for decorating a cake. The design is created by copying and pasting. The process of arranging the data was like squeezing the cream out of a cake. This is a work that brought a different and new feeling to the act of design.