We recently caught up with the Japanese illustrator Tetsunori Tawaraya while he was out in Los Angeles on tour for his new book Telescope. It’s his second solo risograph book and the follow up to his first book, the now sold-out Monitor. Like most of his work it contains creatures from an undiscovered planet, seen through the lens of a telescope from inside Tawaraya’s mind’s eye.
We threw a few questions at Tetsunori while he was setting up his show at in Long Beach.
WHAT YOUTH: Where are you from and where are you currently living?
TETSUNORI TAWARAY: I’m from Sendai, Japan but living in Tokyo now.
Did you go to school for art or was it just something that you did on your own?
I learned on my own.
What’s your favorite thing to draw?
Intestines, imaginary internal organs, creatures on other planets.
How did you get Thee Oh Sees record sleeve job?
I knew John Dwyer through playing with his old band The Coachwhips at Gelato Vero in San Diego. We hang out when he comes to Japan, so it was natural to be a part of Thee Oh Sees “Mutilator Defeated at Last” album art.
And what’s up with the new line that you just released with Volcom.
They’re super rad dudes, they discovered my work at the boutique/bizzare art shop called “birthdeath” in Shibuya, and found the silkscreen book “Tetsunorictus” made by Le Dernier Cri in Marseille, France. Then they started contacting me and visited me at my flat in Tokyo to collaborate with me. It took us a year of close contact but we finally accomplished everything and finally launched it last March. All of us were satisfied how it came out.
Is there anyone else you would love to work with?
This year is too busy making another book on Le Dernier Cri, but the Braindead collaboration finally came out in April. They released 2up cassette, and featured us on NTS radio as pre-release surprise. They’re so productive and supportive, I love working with them as well.
What’s your favorite medium to work in?
I’ve been using scratchboad as a new medium for the last three years. It’s been a lot of fun messing with it.
I’ve seen a bunch of your murals and the one you just wrapped up at Volcom, what’s the largest piece you’ve done and what was it of?
Probably the collaboration mural with Shoboshobo, Sumi Ink Club, Dennis Tyfus, and Hendrik Hegray in 2010 was the most gigantic one. Solo mural was 20m ×４m sized wall at PoPo, Shindaita, Tokyo 2009 was the biggest.
What would your life be like without art?
I’d be making a film 24/7.
What inspires you the most to make art?
Do you have any other hobbies or creative outlets?
Playing guitar and singing on 2up (pronounced upup), also I do drums and bass synth on Hangaku. I do solo project as Vastieu Ramen, but I’m taking a little break from that one right now.
What do you love about making books?
It’s always a fun challenge to use new things like coiled binding (Telescope on Colour Code), silver ink on black Plike paper (Grayworld on Hollow Press). It’s so fascinating to see the physical piece in the end.
What’s one piece of advice for a young artist?
Don’t forget hungry spirits.
See more of Tetsunori’s work here.
And check out his new book Telescope here.