Unadorned is adorned the most: Interview with Masaki Takahashi

Unadorned is adorned the most: Interview with Masaki Takahashi

Unadorned is adorned the most: Interview with Masaki Takahashi


Fun fact! While researching AWW Issue 4, we realised that there was always one portrait illustrator who had left a deep impression on us. The AWW office has always been filled with truckloads of Japanese magazines, yet his vivid and lively style stood out. We thought, “How great would it be to have him contribute to our portrait illustrations in this issue?”

It was certainly a dream come true when Masaki Takahashi agreed to join us in AWW Issue 4! The portrait illustrations he did were needless to say, vigorous and full of life. What amazed us the most was how he created a “Rainbow 8” team when we asked him to change the colour of the interviewees’ outfits. It brought us so much joy and laughter. :) 

Perhaps it’s a reminder from Masaki — amidst our everyday mundane lives, there’s always a way for us to find cheerful vibes. There’s a rainbow everywhere we look!

 

Magazine cover
(POPEYE 851/ マガジンハウス)
Painting  
By Masaki TAKAHASHI

Magazine cover
(POPEYE 824/ マガジンハウス)
Painting
By Masaki TAKAHASHI 

AWW: We know that you’re a veteran in portrait illustrations! Have you ever counted how many portraits you have created?

Masaki Takahashi: Considering my age, my career as a portrait illustrator isn't that long. I had never counted before, so I tried and counted. I should have created about 900 illustrations that resemble somebody’s face.

 

“Young man”
Painting
By Masaki TAKAHASHI 

“Walking man”
Painting
By Masaki TAKAHASHI

“Wanted”
Painting
By Masaki TAKAHASHI 

AWW: To you, what makes a portrait illustration come alive? In other words, what is the most important thing that makes a portrait illustration look like the subject?

Takahashi: It is important not to exaggerate the subject’s features like a caricature, so I always try to draw in the simplest and most unadorned way.

 

“Bottle incident”
Painting
By Masaki TAKAHASHI

Magazine illustration
(POPEYE / マガジンハウス)
Painting
By Masaki TAKAHASHI 

AWW: Does fashion play a role in your portraits? How does it help when illustrating someone?

Takahashi: Yes, as I could be heavily influenced by the subject’s outfit. When I don’t know much about the person, I can only imagine a lot from his/her fashion style.

 

Book cover
(徳間書店)
Painting
By Masaki TAKAHASHI

Annual cover
(『ファッションイラストレーション・ファイル2015』玄光社)
Painting
By Masaki TAKAHASHI

AWW: Which of your portraits has left the deepest impression on you?

Takahashi: It’s difficult to decide on one as I love every portrait, be it my own work or commissioned work. I always wonder why it is so fascinating to draw a person’s face.

 

“Cat”
Painting
By Masaki TAKAHASHI

“Flash”
Painting
By Masaki TAKAHASHI 

AWW: What is the biggest challenge you had when illustrating for AWW magazine issue 4? Was this the first time you combined humans and animals in a portrait?

Takahashi: Since they are all artists themselves, I was extremely nervous! It is indeed my first time to create human portraits with animal heads.

 

 Portrait illustrations in AWW Issue 4

AWW: Our interviewees chose animals that best represent themselves — what about you? What is your soul animal and why?


Takahashi: I would choose the tortoise. I can sympathise with them moving slowly or hiding under their shells.

 

Tada! And here comes more behind-the-scenes photos of how Masaki created the cover for AWW Issue 4!

 


To find out more about Masaki Takahashi please visit the artist's Tumblr  |  @masakitakahashi
All images provided by Masaki Takahashi. 

 

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