It goes back to when I was in kindergarten. I always drew pictures of Gorenger, other sentai superheroes, and anime pictures on the back of advertisements.
I think I was in the second grade of elementary when I happened to win an award for a drawing of a boy sitting down with his legs in a triangle shape, which was not that good, and I was praised for it. After that, I won several awards, and I started to like that feeling of praise more and more, and started to draw a lot, whether it was good or not.
It happened before I even knew it. My current style was sparked by my later street art projects, but at that time doing street art wasn’t really on my radar. When I was 23 years old, I wanted to be a serialized manga artist, so I focused on drawing one-off comic strips during my downtime when I had a job at a watch store. But at this time I really wanted to focus on improving my drawing skills, and I was able to change what I was doing and start working as an illustrator at a job ad magazine.
You could say that’s when I officially became a professional, but I was being commissioned by the director there to draw 10 scenes per day. And I drew all of those not with my own touch but with the styles that I was getting requested to draw in, so it really became a good chance for me to learn a lot. My current illustrative touch was also established during that time though. Originally I thought it would be interesting to take the kind of harmless and bland pictures that are found in children’s books and use them with slightly ironic and cynical content, so I was always doodling between work with this idea in mind. One of those doodles was of a cute bear attacking a boy, which later became Gloomy Bear.
When I was working as an illustrator for that job ad magazine, I had a friend who was a web designer on the same floor. One day we were having lunch together as usual, and he mentioned that he was going to make postcards of the works he had made and accumulated when he was a student and display them at the street vendor stalls that were popular at the time. I said I wanted to join him. But I didn’t have anything that could be called a work of art the way he did, so I gathered up the doodles and little illustrations that I was working on, and the first thing I did with them was make postcards out of them and line them up at a stall. After a while, magazines & TV programs started requesting interviews and I began getting offers from companies to license my work, but unfortunately this was just me and not my friend.
At that time, there were not many people who had their own websites yet, but my web designer friend told me that I could easily make one, so I made a pretty simple one myself. Usually I was showcasing my art at the street stalls just on Saturdays, the day before my one day off a week, but I gave myself a quota of always bringing at least one new piece with me there. I kept updating my website with these new illustrations and slowly it started to spread all over the country and then overseas, so much so that I was approached by some pretty big agencies and this is what you can say really led to my debut as the artist that I am today. Thanks to these happenings, I was sharing my art on the street scene for about a year and a half.
If I have a topic in mind, I can usually get the insight I’m looking for by gathering info about that topic. But when I can’t get the creative juices flowing, it’s good to stop thinking and do something completely different like cooking or cleaning. Also, enjoying an attractive work of art can motivate your brain. It can be a painting, a movie, or anything creative. I also like to talk with people.
Once overseas fans fall in love with a character, they tend to stay in love with it, and I think that’s awesome! There are lots of fans from America, Singapore, Taiwan, Southeast Asia, but especially in Thailand there seem to be many core collectors. There’s even a hashtag called #gloomybearthailand that if you search, so many Gloomy plushies pop up. Ah, there’s actually some Gloomy Bear filters for Insta stories too, please use them!
Gloomy Bear has a lot of exposure overseas, but All Purpose Bunny seems to be more like a set with Gloomy rather than a standalone character. So I was happy to be able to give Bunny a chance to stand on its own like this.
I think they’re all pretty nice (laughs)! Most of them have never been commercialized before. I think I’ve only ever had socks and Gloomy … ah this might be the first time for every category! The head-only plushie is also the first of its kind in such a reasonable size. I think I’d recommend all of them, but I do really like the plushie!
I think all of the items in this box turned out to be very cute, so I hope you like them. And just like the character was designed to do, please use them lots until they fall apart. I hope you’ll continue to be interested in my work so that we could one day release a second series!
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