Creator Interview: Yoshimi OHTANI [1/2]

Creator Interview: Yoshimi OHTANI [1/2] 1

This time, we interviewed Yoshimi OHTANI who is in charge of the main visual for the “Sakura Exhibition,” an exhibition for promoting illustrators, about her work.

Creator Introduction:
Name: Yoshimi OHTANI
Creator's MyPage:

TOM: Please tell us how you started drawing illustrations.
OHTANI: I started drawing when I became an illustrator. The pattern is entirely different, but in my school years, I would draw derivative manga on manga writing paper with a dip pen and stick screentone imitating FF7 and Soul Hunter (※1). I started using print shops when I was in high school.

After graduating high school, I enrolled into the multimedia department of Nippon Engineering School and majored in web marketing. After graduation, I worked for two years at a company as a web designer, then married, became a housewife, and had a child.

However, I still wanted to continue working, so I was looking for a job I could do at home while taking care of my child, and I finally settled on illustrating. I’ve been doing that for 5-6 years now. I am still moved when I remember how I used Illustrator on an Apple iMac at that time to create illustrations.

TOM: When looking for a job to do at home, did you consider other choices besides illustrator?
OHTANI: Yes. Since I was also into web designing and directing business, I undertook the creation of corporate sites for private businesses and small hospitals. However, I had a hard time because the people not involved in the making usually didn’t have a concrete image of how it should look. The clients would only give me vague directions, like, “Make it cool,” or, “Make it fashionable,” so I had to do research and propose my ideas. But I had to do them many times over until the client would accept them; I experienced that countless times. It was too much for me to do the whole thing alone from planning. The compensations didn’t match my efforts. I had to think of my child, and this job made me feel like I was at my limits.

At that time, blog sites were very popular on the internet. I myself also made one, and I uploaded the summer greeting cards and New Year’s cards I drew in private. A publisher stumbled over my site while looking for people for a project to publish doujinshi, CG collections, and how-to books, and they contacted me. This how-to book, which I made in joint with five authors, became my first work as an illustrator. I was lucky enough to also draw the front cover of the book. It was a success in that I could engage in the work without having any preconceptions about the industry.

From then on, I gradually got more illustration jobs, and genuinely started to walk the road of an illustrator. Illustrating has a good work punctuation, when I finish drawing it, it’s over.

TOM: When creating, what do you pay attention to?
OHTANI: I consciously try to place my style in the middle between manga, art, anime, and design. Even if the world’s subcultures, design, or the perception toward advertisements change with the times, I want to become an artist who always finds the middle ground and presents it in my work. In my case, if I get too addicted to anime and manga, it has a strong influence on me, so I am careful to maintain the middle ground.

TOM: What is the reason you took the Japanese emotional concepts of wabi, sabi and kare into you “fixed point” way of thinking?
OHTANI: When I started being active overseas, I didn’t want to draw pictures anyone else could. If anyone could draw them, there is no reason to go through all the trouble and hire a foreigner like me. I wanted to do something no one else could draw, only me, so that they would need to rely on me. In order to make everyone know that they were drawn by “Japanese illustrator Yoshimi OHTANI, ” I give all my works a unique atmosphere. To make people feel that, I needed individuality which I found in the concepts of wabi, sabi, and kare.

TOM: Taking into account the unique atmosphere, is there anything you are conscious about in terms of skills?
OHTANI: Actually, I’m not very good at drawing pictures. I think I only have minimal skills as an illustrator. Instead, I excel at the atmosphere and glamour the work as a whole emits. Compared to illustrators who can precisely show that pressure-like thing that comes from the tension of details, I feel very insufficient. That’s why I want to work hard on becoming better at drawing illustrations.

This is not about skills, but when creating, I soliloquise on the extent of the theme and reason, which are the final points of the output achieved, and try to draw my pictures accordingly. In other words, I pay attention to whether the completed work is appropriate for the place it will be displayed at, whether it is a successful work or not.

TOM: Does the target audience or the motifs change?
OHTANI: Outside work, I don’t really draw pictures. I don’t make original themes and work in private. Most of the time, I draw what is requested for work. My desires rarely have control over it, and I haven’t really experienced the “changing of an interesting motif.” In most cases, I draw what I should be drawing.

※1: Soul Hunter is a manga by Ryu Fujisaki that was serialized in Shueisha’s Weekly Shonen Jump from the 28th issue (1996) to the 47th issue (2000).

Creator Interview: Yoshimi OHTANI [1/2] 1
Creator Interview: Yoshimi OHTANI [1/2] 2
Creator Interview: Yoshimi OHTANI [1/2] 3
Creator Interview: Yoshimi OHTANI [1/2] 4
Creator Interview: Yoshimi OHTANI [1/2] 5
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Creator Interview: Yoshimi OHTANI [1/2] 9
Creator Interview: Yoshimi OHTANI [1/2] 10
Creator Interview: Yoshimi OHTANI [1/2] 11

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