MANGA.TOKYO has been meeting with active creators at the forefront in Japan and this time we interviewed Zennosuke, an illustrator who is popular for his unique illustrations which convey mood and narrative. He provides his works mainly for book illustrations.
We asked questions that you might want to ask, such as how he became a professional illustrator and how he creates his drawings.
Interview with Zennosuke
Q. Could you introduce yourself briefly?
I draw illustrations under the name of Zennosuke. I draw for a variety of media including books, disks, and advertisements.
Q. What inspired you to become an illustrator?
‘I have always loved drawing. When I was a child, trading card games were all the rage. They inspired me to draw. I made original cards with my illustrations and cardboard. [laugh]
I was drawing illustrations on social media site as a pastime, rather than trying to become a professional illustrator, and then job offers began coming in gradually.’
Q. Your illustrations tell a story. What sort of preparations do you make before drawing?
‘I decide a fundamental key phrase before I start drawing. For instance, I could decide on the key phrase “a girl waiting in the rain,” and then start wondering what she is wearing, for whom or what she is waiting, and where she is waiting. I create a short story about her, and then make a rough drawing. Applying this method prevents me from having second thoughts as to the composition of the illustration has been stabilized according to the story.’
Q. How much did you practice drawing until you became satisfied with your illustrations?
‘I always feel like I’m doodling rather than practicing. Doodling is practice for me. I compare my illustrations which get good reactions to ones which don’t in order to find what reasons for the reception. I positively apply these reasons which may satisfy more people.’
Q. Is there any illustrator who inspires you, or you are watching closely?
‘I don’t have anyone especially. I try not to compare myself to other illustrators.’
Q. How about works of other creators or your experiences which inspired you?
‘I was heavily influenced by the anime works of Satoshi Kon.’
Q. Do you have something you do consciously to make your works even better?
‘I’m always conscious about what is the best feature of an illustration that I’m working on. If I know what that is, I can control the information in the work, like on which part I should emphasize or tone down.’
Q. Do you have any advice to aspiring young illustrators abroad?
‘I don’t think I’m in a position to give advice, though I think you should show your illustrations to other people once you’ve finished. It’s important that you let people know you are drawing pictures, as many as possible. Whether your drawing is good or bad comes after that.’
Where to find Zennosuke
Want to have a look at his illustrations more? Check them out here.
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