Odding Wang Talks About Sequential Art and Monogatari.

Odding’s adorable avatar

The first time I met Odding was at the Sequential Art Meetup in July, but we never got a chance to talk. During the set-up for the Monogatari exhibition at Tokyo Chapter in October, we discovered we had a lot in common–especially coffee and mushrooms. Odding’s delicate graphite images for her Monogatari contribution, “Here,” add a wonderful facet to the amazing artwork in the issue. Checkout the Q &A with Odding below.

How long have your been making sequential art?
For decades, since I was around 5 or 6.

What do you like about sequential art compared to other forms of expression?
I think sequential art opens up many possibilities, comparing to single frame images, since it brings fragments of time in itself; Comparing to moving images like movies or animation, it gives the reader freedom of setting your own pace; Comparing to literature, like novels or poetry, sometimes it speaks more with less words or even only visual elements. I like all the above forms as well but I think sequential art definitely has its own unique charm and more potential to be explored.

What inspired your story for Monogatari?
“Here” was about a real story, well, it wasn’t even a story, just a little fragment of memories, when I first moved to my current place and found this little old motsuyaki store, run by a small old lady with (probably) her son, the lady was always smiling and I could tell that she was a very honest and sweet person. One day I noticed a bamboo dragonfly on top of the shelf in the store and she realized that I was interested in it, so she took it down and let me play with it. Back then I couldn’t speak any Japanese, so our communication was basically gestures and smiles. I’m always fascinated with old places and old people, and this kind of little stories always brings me lots of warmth at heart.

What are you most proud of in your story?
I’m proud of its honesty, even though it was a mixture of reality and imagination. The point is whenever I read it myself, I can still feel the same kind of warmth as I did in the little store.

What was the biggest challenge in making your story?
Telling the story without words would be one of the biggest challenges, as I did in my other stories too. I was worried that readers won’t be able to fully understand it, but actually they don’t even have to. The story itself is beyond language barrier, and I think I’m quite satisfied with it. Another challenge would be fitting the artwork into A5 size space without losing much details, and I think the editor and printers did a good job on that.

Do you have any favorite stories or sequential artists that you recommend to readers?
My all time favourite would be Chris Ware, then Jon McNaught, whose way of storytelling kind of inspired “Here”. Besides those two, I’d also recommend Lisa Hanawalt and Nick Drnaso. For books I recommend “The Photographer” by Didier Lefèvre and Emmanuel Guibert; and “Here” by Richard McGuire (Haha my story in Monogatari has nothing to do with this book).

Where can people find out more about your work?
You can check out: www.oddingwang.com, or follow me on Instagram: @odding

Turning the Page–An Art-Book and Zine Exhibition at PAPER 2 Gallery

“Turning the Page” was an Art-book exhibition at Paper 2 gallery in Manchester that ran from September 29-October November 3, 2018. The exhibition was a collaboration between British artists and members of a Tokyo art collective called Art Byte Critique.

It was really exciting to see the collaboration between the two work and for artists from each group to see their work in the other country via Skype chats and videos.

The British artists generously shared their images of the reception at Paper 2 Gallery. It looked like a great time. I wish I could have been there.

-above images courtesy of the artists

Joan Birkett of St. Helens connected with Tokyo-based Art Byte Critique through Arthur Huang to develop relationships and collaborations. The two groups have had previous collaborations in St. Helens, UK,  at Heart of Glass  and Eccleston Community Library for for World Book Day.

Find out more about the participating artists by clicking the links below:
Jane Barwood
Joan Birkett
Paul Cousins
Deanna Gabiga
Arthur Huang
Patty Hudak
Mariko Jesse
Yuko Kamei
A.J. Malone
Jeni McConnell
Carol Miller
Julia Nascimento
Lyle Nisenholz
Mia O
Lori Ono
Jacqui Priestley
Louise Rouse
Yvonne Tinsley
Claire Weetman
Nick West

Birthday Zine Update: Mai Nichi Mushroom Cover

Mai Nichi Mushroom Cover (in progress)
Mai Nichi Mushroom Cover (in progress)
I’ve almost got the cover completed. I want to add a fox behind the mushrooms or looking up at them as if they are gigantic. I used the illustration I posted about yesterday. I scanned the sketch and then applied the dark strokes filter to a copied layer of the sketch and reduced the opacity to see some of the sketch underneath.

Still having font issues. I gave up on looking for cute fonts in Japanese. I used Hiragino Gothic Standard, rasterized it and played with the edges. I just wanted a softer, more playful look for the kanji. I’m also going to change the font for Fiction Feature–it’s hard to read on the mushroom colored background.

Now that I’m doing content for 10 Types of Mushrooms, I realize I’m going to have to change it to 5 types. It’s getting pretty text heavy, and frankly, I’m getting bored. Plus I still need to write “The Great Mushroom Detective.” Games are done and put into a Photoshop file. Still thinking about how to decorate them.

My first idea is to print the zine on craft paper, but the stuff I have is quite dark. I’ll probably need to do some color adjustments for text. But it’s kind of coming together.

New Jewelry 2015 at 3331 Arts Chiyoda Review

The New Jewelry show at 3331 Arts Chiyoda (Dec 5-7, 2015) showcased some Japanese jewelry makers taking traditional materials and techniques into modern directions.

newjewelry.JPGJewelry is the ultimate meeting of design, craftsmanship and function. The New Jewelry show at 3331 Arts Chiyoda (Dec 4-6, 2015) showcased some Japanese jewelry makers taking traditional materials and techniques into modern directions. It was particularly interesting to talk with some of the artists and learn about their themes or inspirations. There wasn’t enough to talk with everyone but below are some very brief artist chats organized into material themes.

Pearls
Thanks to Mikimoto, pearls are strongly associated with jewelry in Japan. Mikimoto has a variety of styles, from traditional to modern, but the usage of pearls at New Jewelry had an energy I don’t see in Mikimoto.

aya-hasegawa-karot-newjewelryAya Hasegawa of Korat is a Nagano based artist doing interesting designs with pearls. She carves a design in a pearl then adds urushi (laquer)to it. I asked her where she got the idea to do this with a pearl and she said it just came to her. She noted that the process can be nerve-wracking because a mistake means that the pearl is wasted. The work is whimisical and finely detailed.

muresi-newjewelry2015-pearl
Muresi is the work of Yuji Ishigami of Yamanashi. Ishigami works in metal and created the coral and pearl pins. He does fine metal work yet decided to use unpolished coral. The rougher coral is a nice counterpoint to the fine metal.

Another artist at the Muresi table (I didn’t get her name) didn’t use pearls but uses photographs to make jewelry.

The idea behind using photographs is to play with memory. One style is to take parts of photos printed on a semi-transparent material and to put in metal shapes to make earrings, pendants and brooches. The effect is like a abstract watercolor until closer examination reveals the actual image. The project uses found photos to make a brooch. The brooch fits into the rest of the original photo for storage and display. The two have been working together for two years.

Dan Tomimatsu (left photo) puts unaltered pearls in cages to present and preserve the pearls. Kenichi Kondo (right) does enamel work and uses pearls for accents.

Cosmos Nostalgie by Natsuko Okano is also Tokyo-based. Much of her work is inspired by astronomy and science and the use of unusual minerals. She has been working in this style for two and a half years. One series has minerals in a rectangular cage. Her inspiration for this design is a science museum display cabinet. Okano has been working in this style for several years.

Glasswork
Glass was the medium of several designers. Whether it was geometric and hard-looking or formed into organic shapes, glass proved more versatile than simply mimicking gems making as beads.

Sorte means good fortune in Italian. She works in her glass studio in Hyogo with her husband. She designs the jewelry but they both have a hand in making the pieces. Mr. Sekino has been working with glass for 20 years. Sekino has been working with glass for 10 years. She started in university. She has been doing Sorte for the last three years. Her jewelry is various types of glass from organic to geometric with gold accents. When asked about the theme of her work she said that glass has lots of different expressions and she wants to demonstrate them in her jewelry.

Moko Kobayashi has a more traditional approach with glass, in that the work is made from French vintage glass beads about eighty years old. Watching the demonstration of making a brooch piques an interest in the finished product. The image outline is sewn onto fabric then the beads are sewn on. The motifs ranged from elegant to playful. I really loved the UFO with the little alien dangling from it. I also love the combination of glass and stitching required for this type of accessory.

Ceramics
This is not really a medium I associate with jewelry or accessories.When I do think of ceramics, I usually think of Wedgewood or something hippy-dippy. I know that ceramics are a wide-versatile material but I was surprised at the elegant offerings here.


Kimiko Suzuki uses ceramics to make her jewelry. At first glance the delicate lace work looks like it has been stitched, or 3-D printed but it is made with a ceramic paste with the consistency of whipped cream. The lace work is created much in the same way as decorating with icing. The result is a unique and delicate look. She has working with this style of production for four years. She likes lace of the symbolism of various motifs. Suzuki also uses ceramics to make molds and figures for her jewelry.

plant-plant-newjewelry
Plant-Plant
Plant-Plant offered coated metal jewelry and items made of porcelain. The poppy petals are particularly beautiful.

Sewing, Embroidery, Fiber Arts
Though I would include Moko Kobayashi in a sewing category, these artist use more recognizable stitching techniques.

monmannequin-kato-tomoka-newjewelry
Tomoka Kato at New Jewelry
Kobe artist Tomoka Kato is the creator of Monmannequin. She had the most playful take own jewelry and accessories like brooches, earrings andnecklaces. She has hand stitched small items five centimeters or smaller entirely of fabric and stitched by hand. She has been doing 3-D fabric for a while, starting with creating dolls. The majority of this work was created for another exhibition with a supermarket theme.

Some other fiber artists at the show to check out are
Akiko Ishiwata;  lace and tatting with fiber instead of ceramic by Filigne and Etsushi who embroiders broaches in a simple, bold graphics self-described as a “primitive” style.

Resin and Washi (and pearls again)
Few materials say “Japan” more than washi. But the idea of paper jewelry sounds very fragile and short-lived. Based in Tokyo, Lisa Nagano of Lissita designs feminine accessories with washi. She maintains the delicacy of washi but adds durability by mixing it with resin. This combination becomes delicate floral motifs in lovely pinks and purples. The flowers look like real petals! And the pearls make an appearance here as well, as flower detail and earring backs. She also had older work on display, (a collaboration with a sumie painter?), done with bold black, gold and resin. It is also striking, though very different from her current work. She’s been working with resin for ten years, and using washi for about two.
IMG_3576

*****

The show is over but the website is still up and has links to all the exhibitors’ pages. They are worth checking out for more photos of the work, explanations of their themes and inspirations and, in some cases, where to buy their work.

http://www.newjewelry.jp/nj2015/exhibitors/

App Review of StitchSketch LE. Designing Your Own Patterns Is Easier than Ever!

For today’s edition of Yarn Addiction Thursday, I’m reviewing With StitchSketch LE. You can create your own knit, cross-stitch, beadwork designs, or pixel art on your iPad or iPhone with ease.

In the past, if you wanted to design a knitting pattern, you  needed graph paper or to draw out your pattern. Each block got its own color, just like pixel art. If you were doing it freehand, no worries. A photo was a lot tougher.  It was tough to copy a photo onto graph paper, so you could use a light table or transparancy. Not convenient but doable.

So all is good, until you knit out your design and find that the gauge of your yarn makes a unit block of the design more rectangular than square. Your end result ends up looking stretched if the stitch is more upright rectangular and squashed if the stitch was wider.

How to make sure your design doesn’t go wonky? One solution was to find knitting graph paper with different gauge. I didn’t even know that existed until recently. Or you could use an Excel spreadsheet to make your graph paper by adjusting the column and row sizes according to gauge. So all that work and you still need to get your image on the paper. Yikes.

StitchSketch LE makes things  a lot easier. Use your iPad or your iPhone to create wherever you are.

20141113-132835-48515356.jpg1. You select your medium (stitching, knitting, beading, pixel art) which will have symbols or colors depending on your choice.
2. Input the size of the work and the gauge of the yarn
3. Create your image. Draw in the app or import.

 


4. Save the work
You can save work in the app gallery, your camera roll or generate a PDF. Outside the app gallery, saving as a PDF gets you the maximum amount of information. Saving to your camera roll gets you a chart but no row counts or color info.
20141113-132834-48514796.jpg
5. Generate a PDF.
Check your settings carefully. You might save without the graph lines which makes it very difficult to use. But don’t close this PDF. You need to click the icon on the top right to move the generated PDF into another app to save it or send it. By doing this you get a file row counts and a list of colors in RGB and hexadecimal (for coding). If you buy the full app, you get color references for the brands they use.

I drew the image below in the app. I posted some versions using different media available in StitchSketchLE. I wonder if one could do pixel art for Minecraft in this app?

20141113-202951-73791129.jpg
Some examples of stitch symbols

For knitters who design with stitches more than color
There is also a selection for knitting symbols. I don’t do a lot of knitting with stitch symbols so I’m not familiar with the meanings and the effects. I played with the symbols to show some of them. I’m pretty sure this would not actually make anything.

Some tips
1. This is basically pixel art so the finer your gauge, the more refined your design will look.
2. Test knit a swatch and count your rows and stitches then enter: this way you can be sure your design doesn’t suffer from stretch or squashiness

Conclusion: 5 Stars
I really like the app on my iPad. It removes the grunt work (finding paper, creating a graph, transferring the image to paper) from making a design and allows you to focus on making your vision a reality. I downloaded the free version but haven’t upgraded to the full version. Currently, the LE version fills all my needs very well. I find $6.99 a bit spendy for the full version, but the tracing paper mode does entice me. If I did complicated color work or made kits for people, I would definitely get the full version so I could get a color list of manufacturers’ flosses or beads.

StitchSketch LE by Keiji Ikuta is a free app for the basic and $6.99 for full app.

20141113-132835-48515064.jpg

Tokyo Art Book Fair 2014: Interview with Book Artist Young-ju Choi

Make a Guess
Make a Guess

I have another Tokyo Art Book Fair interview from Korean book artist Young-ju Choi. I purchased one of her books, Make a Guiess. It is a lovely type or riddle book using different textures and cut-outs which interact with the pages underneath. Young-ju kindly took the time to correspond with me via e-mail.

Can you tell us a bit about your background? Where are you from? Did you study art at school or are you self-taught?
I am from Korea. My major was Graphic design in Korea and I received my MA in Book Arts in London.

How long have you been making books?
I have been making books for over ten years since I graduated my MA .

What kind of books do you make?
I prefer making structured books suiting my idea rather than zine type.

What are two things you want people to know about your work?
What I want is only one thing. I hope that people read my books closely, turning page by page.

Is this your first time at TABF (Tokyo Art Book Fair)?
Yes, it is my first time.

Why did you come to the TABF?
I have never taken part in the TABF before.

One of my friends, who I had met in London, mentioned about this Book fair. I wondered about the TABF. 

How was this book fair for you?
Actually I was in a rush to come Tokyo because I didn’t have a plan to take a part the TABF. I regret that I didn’t prepare enough.

I didn’t have time to look around at other tables because I was taking care of my table by myself. But it was wonderful experience. I hope to come again.

Personal Note: I’ve really enjoyed looking at Take a Guess. It’s a beautifully constructed book.

Yarn Addiction Thursday: All About the Learning

Mock SUnkey wants to be in charge of writing this post. I told him, "No!"
Mock SUnkey wants to be in charge of writing this post. I told him, “No!”

I missed a couple yarn addiction Thursdays due to my book making frenzy for the Tokyo Art Book Fair. I actually have had no time to be addicted to yarn. And now that I’m in book making mode, I’m not really keen to get back to fibers. There are two reasons for this. I do not want to spend more money. I want to use my fiber stash but that means experimenting. The second is that I have a number of other projects to complete so that means I don’t have time to experiment.

I did do some thinking about what I could do with my stash and I realized I had some knowledge gaps that prevented me from designing effectively.

So today’s post is a list of yarn-y things I want to learn.

Understanding yarn weights and
wraps per inch.
This is a big gap in my understanding of yarn as a textile. I need to know more about how this affects the results of my designs and buying effectively.
 Estimating how much yarn I need.  Relates to the problem above and below.
How to design a pattern for a sweater. Understanding drape and fit. It’s such a huge thing to learn but I’m interested.
 How to piece things together.  I get the concept of blocking, but my sewing is kind of rubbish. I want to know more than one way to join pieces.
How to do 3 color knitting without getting a weird pull on the stitch I can do a great job with 2 colors. 3? Forget about it.
How to design and knit shapes to make plushies. I think this is a great way to use up stash and I love creating toys.
Finding or making more stash busting patterns  My stash busting always ends up making me buy more yarn. SOooooo not the point.

So this is my list. It is rather huge but I think it is a good point to guide me for the next 6 months or so.

If you have any good tips, good sites or some suggestions for other things I need to learn, please let me know in the comments. I’d love some help on this.

Happy stitching everyone.

Mock SUnkey is ready to go yarn shopping.
Mock SUnkey is ready to go yarn shopping.

Note: Mock Sunkey is made from a kit I bought in Tokyo that included the socks. I did not knit him.

The Days After the Art Book (af)Fair. Tokyo Art Book Fair 2014 Review

The 2014 Tokyo Art Book Fair (TABF) has come and gone. It took a lot of work to get ready for it, and it was an intense three days but I enjoyed all of it. Now I just have to sort through the leftovers in n my studio from my book making frenzy.

20140925-000242-162096.jpgA big thank you to every one who visited the Art Byte Critique Group table (H-05), we enjoyed talking to everyone who stopped by. Special thanks to those who purchased some of our work. We ‘re thrilled because we know that there were so many wonderful choices available to you.

To the other TABF contributers and Zinesmate staff, thanks for the community feeling and your hard work. I thought everything ran really smoothly and every contributer ‘s work looked amazing. It was fun to be counted amongst you.

Finally, Art Byte Critique Group, thanks for making the process so efficient and fun. I’m lucky to be a part of this group. It’s inspiring to see what members are up to and the feedback you give on my own work is invaluable.

20140925-000243-163101.jpgWhat Would I Do Differently?
Put prices on things immediately and have cuter price tags. I didn’t want to be pushy by having prices, but I soon realized when I was browsing myself that a price was one of the first things I looked for.

Put a muslin sheet over our work after the day is done. One fellow artist had several books go missing.  And while that could have happened while we were at the booth and the cloth doesn’t lock anything down, I think covering the table gives that sales-are-done-for-the-day feeling and one layer against temptation. I think people at the Book Fair are generally pretty honest.

Have a display rack for photos. It would be great if I could find a small v-shaped poster holder. The photos on the back wall were hard to access and I didn’t have a lot of stock. I’d like people to be able to look more closely at them.

Longer lead time on production. I had my proto-types for the application, but didn’t start producing in earnest until I learned we got accepted and got a table. But not knowing for sure if you get a spot and spending money on production just in case seems like a bad idea.

What Would I Do the Same?
The whole experience! It was great.

Work with Art Byte Critique. I think it is great to share a table with people. I could easily see being overwhelmed and a bit lonely if I were to do this alone.

More Estello! I got a lot  of great feedback on this project. I was a bit hesitant about how Estello would be received  so I made some very simple zines and some A4 posters. While the zines looked good and suited the casual style of Estello, I think I could get something a little better quality with a lower price point if I have a longer production time and spend a bit more.

Talk to people! I got a chance to interview some people at the book fair and to make some contacts. I also got to watch how people perceived my work. So this makes it a bit more useful as a testing ground for new ideas.

Trends
Fellow blogger, Universo Tokyo, asked me if I noticed any trends in the types of  work available this year. This is a tough question. I only attended for a short hour at the end last year, so many things may have already sold.  Like last year, there was a huge variety in the offerings, from high-level professionally done photography coffee table books, to stapled editions of zines. I feel like there were more zines and more hand-made books.

I think another trend was looking instead of buying. I have no idea how this compares to last year. I saw lots of people buying supplies, but proportionally less people buying books and maybe looking around for ideas. Goodness knows there was so much creativity in the building that the urge to start making something really built up.

If you attended, what was your impression of the Art Book Fair? Did you notice any trends?

I did buy a few books…

Tokyo Artbook Fair: Interview with Marie Wintzer

The fourth in the series of interviews from fellow Tokyo Artbyte Critique group, who are participating in the Tokyo Artbook Fair presents Marie Wintzer.

Marie Wintzer is a French artist who also works in the field of neurosciences. She currently lives in Tokyo. Each of the books she will have available at the Tokyo Art Book Fair 2014 are unique, one-of-a-kind constructions.

What kind of art do you do?
My work is based on mail art exchanges and consists of collages and books using Jjapanese magazines, newspapers, comics, books gathered from second-hand stores, along with altered pictures / photography of my own, and poems.

Book photo courtesy of Marie Wintzer
Book photo courtesy of Marie Wintzer

That sounds pretty complicated. What is your process?
In my work process I aim to find aesthetics through matching, pairing, comparing, contrasting. Aesthetics can arise from unexpected, apparently chaotic or incoherent structures, and I am particularly interested in the subjective notion of beauty, in unveiling the harmony in items / settings / contexts that are not obviously seen as pleasantly ordered and arranged.

This work process naturally leads me to the study of repetitions of patterns and the breaking of those patterns (asymmetry) by chance or choice, of the unique combinations that can be created from a single unit through repetition and modification. In relation to this, I am fascinated by the endless possibilities offered by layers and transparencies.

How does poetry fit into the visual aspect of your work?
Poems take an increasing importance in the making of my books, and are a layer in their own right. Very often they are the starting point or the basis for the creation of a new book.

Is there a website where we can learn more about you and your work?
http://thebookwormslunch.blogspot.jp/

Tokyo Art Book Fair 2014: Interview with Studio Deanna

The Zinesmate Tokyo Art Book Fair starts September 19th and I’m interviewing fellow Art Byte Critique artists about their work. The second in the series of eight interviews presents Deanna Koubou of Studio Deanna. Deanna is a fiber and metal artist from the United States.

Where are you from and how long have you been in Japan?
I am an emerging American artist who has lived in Japan for about 10 years. I have visited 49 of the 50 states and lived in 11, most recently California.

Detail of Navigation and Migration series.
Detail of Navigation and Migration series.

How long have you been making books?
About a year. I’ve been stitching and sewing since I was a child so jumping into hand-stitched art books has been a very comfortable new art form for me.

How did you come to join ABC (Art Byte Critique)
As a group we’ve been meeting for almost a year to prepare for the Tokyo Art Book Fair.

How have these meetings helped you get ready?
The Art Byte Critique has been an amazing group of international and Japanese artists whose feedback on my work has pushed me to create the best designs possible. My favorite part about the group is how divergent we are in the mediums we use but still work strongly towards such similar goals of moving our own artwork forward.

What kind of book/s will you have at the Tokyo Art Book Fair?
I created two kinds of books, travel journals and mamebons (bean books).

Travel journals, photo courtesy of Studio Deanna.
Travel journals, photo courtesy of Studio Deanna.

Each one of my Travel Journals is a one-of-a kind handmade art book. Using a consistent cover design of rugged upholstery I have been able load each one with a variety of map pages from various countries throughout the northern hemisphere.

Inspired by the locations on the maps, I created a Migration/Navigation Series of hand-embroidered mamebons (bean books). I embroidered one with a16th Century sailing ship and another with a sea turtle. Both of which represent Navigation and Migration on our planet.

Detail of Migration and Navigation series.
Detail of Navigation and Migration series.

What kind of materials do you use?
Tough upholstery fabric, modern aviation maps, wax threads, embroidery threads, buttons, and crocheted lace threads.

What are two points you want people to know about your books?
I hope people will explore new places with these books. You can add your own sketches and memories into the Travel Journals or enjoy the hand-embroidered art books.

Do you have a website where we can learn more about you and your work?
My website is www.studiodeanna.com.

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