Surrealism, bold colors, and influence of Japanese pop culture often find themselves together in Tokyo, Japan based Kota Yamaji’s works. Kota is a digital artist, video director, and designer. He studied Graphic Design from Tama Art University. Over an email, Kota talks to TFM about his work and what inspires it:
Could you tell us something about your childhood?
I grew up in Tokyo, Japan in a family of five. I am the only artist in the family, but they’ve always supported my art. I often spent my childhood playing on my father’s computer, making illustrations, and working on websites with school friends.
I was always intrigued by the power and impact of illustrations. Eventually, I decided to go to Tama Art University to explore art and design.
What influenced you creatively when you were growing up?
When were you really sure you wanted to be an artist?
I think when I made up my mind to attend Tama Art University, I was quite sure about exploring my journey as an artist.
How was the experience at the university?
I studied graphic design, computer graphics, and animation at the University. The idea of what the combination of these three fields could add up to fascinated me. I landed up making graphics and music videos using these combinations.
I often spent my childhood playing on my father’s computer, making illustrations, and working on websites with school friends.
Your work has a strong surreal, dark, almost science fiction element to it.
I’d like to believe that my works aren’t influenced by the elements of science fiction. Rather, they are often inspired by surrealist artists such as Salvador Dalí and René Magritte. Japanese pop culture has also always been a huge influence.
Also tell us a bit about your choice of colors.
I trust my gut feeling and always choose a color combination that my work strongly resonates with.
Could you pick one of your projects and tell us about its making?
Let me take you through the journey of this ‘Graphic Work’ with a four-step process:
I begin by making a rough sketch in my notebook. While doing so, I decide and plan the motifs that I’ll be using. Then I model these motifs (for instance- lemon, clothing, etc) by using softwares like Cinema 4D, Zbrush and Marvelous Designer. As this progresses, I finalize various other aspects like color palette, camera angles, etc. Then I explore the look and feel by combining and coloring these motifs. I look out for the best color combination and set up the camera angle. At this final stage, I make slight adjustments to color in Photoshop. I dislike changing colors drastically, so I usually just work with brightness and saturation.
What’s been your most challenging project so far?
The music video for Anakuro Noise has been an extremely challenging project. It’s taken me a lot of time to understand the process of combining computer graphics and footage recorded on camera.
I studied graphic design, computer graphics, and animation at the University. The idea of what the combination of these three fields could add up to fascinated me.
What do you like and dislike about Tokyo?
I relish the food here. I like the city and its view. It has been a familiar sight since my childhood and has never failed to inspire me. But I strongly dislike the situation in the city where people have been committing suicide because of work stress.
Who are the illustrators/artists around the world that you really admire?
Antoni Tudisco is one of my favorites.
What are some of the things (in music/film/literature) that deeply inspire you?
I feel passionately towards music, novels, and films. They’ve constantly inspired my ideas and work. I’m not a big fan of science fiction, but I love watching films that engage in the concept of the universe.
What are you currently working on?
I’m currently working on a music video with a Japanese rock musician.