Yosuke Ando

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It’s a pleasure to have you talk to us, can you tell us little bit about who you are and the work that you do? Did you study in Australia or Japan originally? 

I am a freelance graphic designer currently based on Tokyo. I am Japanese but have lived most of my life in Sydney. I studied at COFA in NSW and graduated in 2007. When I was younger I used to be a street dance instructor and part of a crew called ‘Dilated Nu’. Hence why you might find a lot of dance related work that I do. Apart from my design career I currently help out at my uncle’s Kimono studio in Tokyo creating kimono fabric, sadly a dying craft that I hope stands the test of time.
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I’ve been following your work since I heard you were working with Luca at Like Minded Studio, how long ago was that? How long did you work there? You guys were doing some crazy stuff, packaging, MTV, Nike, stuff on boards, laser engraved on boards, vinyl, etc..
I started working with Luca during my last year of Uni and was there for about 2.5 years in total. Yeah at the start it was crazy, I mean I was just a little kid who had no idea about design suddenly working with someone who is a living legend in our field. But the fast pace of work trained me up quick, I worked hectic hours but it didn’t matter cos everything that got passed down from Luca was so fresh.

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Who, what or when were the biggest influence and teachers that helped shape the way you think/work now? When I looked at the work that LMS was producing I realised that there is history behind this, a heritage; you guys brought Tony DiSpigna into the highlight, you used Lubalin/Carnase/DiSpigna typefaces, even had some homage pieces. It personally made me look these guys up and realise the tradition and lineage, are they your personal design heroes?

I was lucky to have worked with some awesome people throughout my design career beginning with Luca and a handful of people at M&C Saatchi who have taught me valuable things as a person and a designer. The Lublin Associates are definitely big influencers in my work. I remember when Tony came down to Sydney and in one of his presentation slides he showed some examples of the work they did for the Yellow Pages and thinking how cutting edge and daring their work was for that time.

Currently I have been looking at the work of Japanese type designers Tsuji Katsumi and Inada Shigeru. For anyone who is interesting in Japanese lettering it would be worth your time to check these guys out.

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Another thing is not only in that period with LMS but in your current work now there’s a look and feel that I identify with as an Asian person. Maybe it’s theatricality or pageantry of the design or the symmetry and inventive use of flourishes or maybe even hints of manga/comic visual devices. It all feels impactful yet have a cultural motive that is familiar for someone with my background growing up in Asia. Was this an intended approach?
Before moving to Tokyo I lived in Hong Kong for about 2 years and my work started to incorporate more Chinese elements and now that I live in Japan my designs have gravitated towards using Japanese elements and typography. I generally like to get influenced from my surroundings and let it effect my work as it usually ends up with something a little unique.
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 So how did you find yourself in the world of type specifically? Was it always been a subject/discipline that interested you or did it start at LMS? There are some projects that you have to combine other languages too.
Like a lot of designers, as a kid I always liked to draw. But more specifically I used to love copying logos that I thought looked cool at that time. The Airwalk, Stussy, Thrasher, Vans, Santa Cruz, Shorty’s logo’s were probably why I started to find letters interesting (yes, I used to be a skater). In university my work was not necessarily all type based but there was definitely a tendency to feature type someway in the work.
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How has your skills in type and illustration helped your time in advertising? Any notable projects that you want to share where you had to use those skills?
Definitely helped, it’s always good to have a unique set of skills in a large organisation as this creates more opportunity in the workplace. Our clients were brands like Comm Bank, Optus, Woolworths and other big names so you might find my work in some of their old campaigns.
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Now that you have experienced both Japan and Australia as a creative person what do you think are the pros and cons of working in the creative industry in those countries?
Thanks to high speed internet I’m able to work with clients from various countries wherever I’m based. There are small differences in work culture but apart from the time difference, which can be a little tricky especially for a 4am Skype meeting with a client on the other side of the world, for the most part it’s all the same.
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What do you think the future in art between the two nations or the Australasia region in general? The world is becoming so connected, we are importing culture and sub culture from each other at such a fast pace what is your hopes for the future?

As we get more connected and cultural exchange is commonplace it produces new and interesting hybrid designs which you can see coming out more and more. I don’t know whether it is just human nature but there is a tendency to always want to go back to the roots and I find that more interest has gathered around traditional art and craft which is great.
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Can you share a little bit about your process? Software you use, places you go for inspiration, both in design or other fields as well.

I mainly use a combination of illustrator and photoshop but depending on the type of job one program would be used as a main platform to build the work. For process I usually only do a very rough sketch and then slowly adjust it and tweak it on the computer.

For inspiration I like to read though old art/design books and visit exhibitions of various fields. In Tokyo there are great areas to go digging for vintage and rare books like Jimbouchou and stores like Book Off where you might find some hidden gems. One time I found a Doyald Young book for $8 in the discount crate – it was a good day.

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How do you keep things fresh and inspired? A lot of people are usually asked to play out their greatest hits all the time yet you’re work still has that unique look and continue to innovate.

I think if you are a designer that gets asked to ‘play out your greatest hits all the time’ it’s actually a really awesome thing. It shows that you have really honed in on your craft and getting rewarded for the time you put in to reach that point. So if you have that I think it’s a blessing.

For me I don’t have a specific style or technique mainly because a lot of the clients let me do whatever I want and trust in what I come up with so I am able to explore different approaches to a particular design problem.

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What are the biggest tips do you have for letterers, calligrapher, and generally typographers? (which is a the majority of our members)
Proactive work is the best type of work. Aspire to do the best work for your clients but keep doing your own thing on the side as this usually feeds back into your work and makes it better and more unique.
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Is there any parting advice you want to give to us concerning the work or the industry that you want to mention before we say our goodbyes?
I have met so many people who hate their jobs. I believe most designers out there do it for the passion and not the cash – remember it is a blessing that you have found what you love to do and keep living to do what you love.

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For Yosuke’s more recent work check out his Behance page: www.behance.net/yosando

Or instagram: @yske_ando

Official website: www.yske.net

 

Melbourne Lettering Club