Naka-kon marks the beginning of my con season and I have to say, it is starting out great! Thanks to a friend I had the chance to get out and enjoy this amazing convention, plus I had the opportunity to sit down for an interview with HIZUMI, of D’ESPAIRSRAY fame, to talk about his career in design and his company UMBRELLA.
Q. Thank you for speaking with us today. How did you enjoy Naka-kon? Did you have a chance to look around?
A. This is the first time I’ve really gotten to walk around and look through a venue where it is very concentrated on anime. It left quite an impact.
Q. You run your own company, UMBRELLA. Are the style of design you use and the name connected?
A. There is no real connection between the name and designs. The name for the brand comes from the fact that people call me the “Rain Man.” The name doesn’t have anything to do with my creative works.
Q. Can you tell us about overall influences? Such as other artists or things in everyday life that influence you to create your designs?
A. It mostly comes from talking with people. Like going out and talking with drinking buddies.
Q. You were in charge of the art direction for your former band D’ESPAIRSRAY, Did that have any influence on the beginning of UMBRELLA and your interest in design?
A. Just to clarify, I didn’t make the goods or anything. I just made the decisions on what goods looked like. But through seeing this, I came to realize I like designing and making things.
Q. Besides graphic design, you also do photography. Can you tell us how your interest started in that?
A. I needed raw materials, My designs are based on photography. You can get images online, but those are images everyone can use. I figured that would limit my originality. So, the best way is to go out and take pictures as the base for my work. There is a lot of cost and time behind doing it this way, but I ultimately feel that it is worth it. Other people looking at my work may not think all these things, but for me I have to do it this way.
Q. You said you work your photography into your designs, can you tell us about the conceptual process behind that?
A. The process is backwards.I don’t start with a concept, such as “I want to go out and take a picture of this.” I go out and take photos and pick what I like. Then I go from there. I don’t hunt certain things, I just go with the flow.
Q. You’ve done lot of world traveling, has the culture of the places you’ve visited had any influence on you?
A. This is my first time really going overseas as UMBRELLA, so it hasn’t affected my work that much. I travel around Japan, too, but there isn’t a big cultural difference. Coming to Kansas, I did feel I learned things from this trip. Things I could maybe use. Please look forward to future works that might include this.
Q. Do you have a message you would like to leave for your fans about the future plans for UMBRELLA?
A. For this year, I want to open up internationally and promote outside of Japan. It isn’t just important to do this online, but also to be there and see the reaction of fans and allowing them to see my work.