September 14, 2016

Japanese illustrator, Takeo Doman creates bold, colourful and surreal illustrations. Having graduated from the Osaka University of Arts in 2008, Doman began work in web production from 2008 to 2012. Since then, he has been working in illustration, creating and executing bizarre, imaginative and exquisitely produced illustrations. We caught up with him to talk about criticism as a stepping stone for creation, drawing inspiration from contemporary Japanese artists and using words and feelings as the starting point to the creative process.

UO: When did you first decide that you wanted to be an artist?

When I was in high school, Raymond Pettibon’s jackets and fliers for Black Flag sparked my interest in illustration. I was particularly fond of his illustration for “Nervous Breakdown”, and while going around wearing a T-shirt with that image, I started to harbour a desire to create a T-shirt of my own someday. That’s how my ambitions to be an artist got started.

UO: What inspires your work?

The prosaic writings of the Dadaist and Beatnik authors are a particular love of mine. I have also found inspiration in observing plants and insects. Small discoveries made in the course of everyday life and the excitement of taking on new challenges can give a new spark to one’s creative work.

UO: What is your creative process; where do you begin when starting a new piece?

At the beginning, I will write down my feelings in words to assemble a rough collection of ideas that can later be used in my work. It all starts with using a memo app on my smartphone to write down words or take pictures, collecting the ideas and materials I need. From there, I use a number of methods to continue developing the work.

UO: What do you like most about working in print?

The majority of my work is drawn in digital format, and I enjoy the struggle of adjusting the colors so that they look right whether printed out using a printer or using silkscreen. It’s difficult to get all of the lines and colors to come out just the way you imagine, but then again I can find enjoyment in the things that don’t come out the way I expect.

UO: How have you seen your work progress over your career?

I feel that the range of my motifs and themes is expanded by going through tough experiences or times of adversity more than it is through technical aspects. I think all experiences, both good and bad, are important for creative work.

UO: Describe you art in three words.

“Feeling,” “Imagination,” and “Empathy.”

UO: Are there any artists that you are currently into?

Naturally I still look up to Raymond Pettibon today, and have continued to follow his work. I’ve also been interested in the output of modern Japanese artists such as ‘Chim↑Pom’ and ‘kyunchome’.

UO: What is the best piece of advice that you would give to young artists?

Not trying to sound haughty or anything, but I think it’s the fact that I have kept going. Instead of getting depressed when you encounter criticism, I think it’s important to use it as a stepping stone to keep creating. Meeting other people and coming into contact with various kinds of values has also been important, I feel.

UO: What/who do you usually listen to when you are working?

I love alternative rock bands like ‘Fugazi’, ‘Sonic Youth’, and ‘Nirvana’ and still listen to them quite a bit. I’m also a huge fan of EDM. Among Japanese bands, I listen to ‘Thee Michelle Gun Elephant’, ‘Blankey Jet City’, and ‘Afrirampo’ a lot.

UO: What projects do you have coming up in the future?

I’m currently working on a project that combines model photography and illustration. I also expect that I’ll be working on other large projects, such as store wallpaper, in the future.