by Lauren Festa
The Summer Olympic Games will be coming to Tokyo in 2020, and designer Arata Kubota thinks it will be a great chance to let the world know more about Japanese design. He also hopes to participate and contribute his talents in some way, just like he did for the Junior Swimming Championships, where he created a poster design for DENSTU INC. and won a Gold Cube at the ADC 94th Annual Awards.
“There is something I am particularly conscious about when creating a design” says Arata Kubota. “That is to sensuously communicate the concept. By winning this award, I feel a bit confident that I succeeded.”
The work was done for DENTSU INC. who sought out a poster design that expressed support towards junior swimmers during a national swimming competition in Japan, for students in elementary school and high school. Swimmers who achieve good results in this competition usually go on to become Olympic athletes. Some of our best work comes from real world experiences. In an internet age where we can google and scratch just about any curious itch, seeing something in real life can unlock a whole new perspective on any subject. In creating this design, Arata started out by going to an actual event. “As a result, I was able to realistically express the swimming competition which I would not have been able to do by just sitting at my desk.”
There was a lot of trial and error in trying to find the right material to express the splashes that he witnessed first hand. He tried to express the “shouting water splashes” using different materials such as water/oil colors, paint, and a marker pen. He also tried out different colors, including tricky ones like silver. Ultimately, he selected the best method and material that allowed him to express the originality in a straightforward way: using a color pencil and with great force applying the color over and over again. The smudges were intentionally left, as he did not want to make it too clean and precise. In this way, the finish would have the reality of the actual strokes. Everything was moving along, swimmingly, but having drawn it in A2 size proved not to be printer friendly. “When we printed it” he says “the lines looked too bold. So in one day, I drew it over again on an A1-size board.”
“The swimmers obviously are in the water and cannot shout out loud, but it seemed to me that the splashes were the water screaming, and so I decided to express that.”
The final product is the sum of its parts, but those become water under the bridge. Looking at the final poster is something to get lost in. Those feathery brush strokes, those marina blues. What we see is the skilled work of Arata’s hand and drawn water splashes. But what he really wanted to express was a forceful shout. “I tried not to draw the splashes too perfectly and beautifully because I wanted to express the dynamism of a dedicated swimmer.”
We think it ended up close to perfect.
“The kids saw the poster and wanted to take it home, so we gave them away. This kind of experience usually never happens, so we were very pleased.” I personally am learning how to swim myself. I can’t think of a better way to be motivated especially now that the days are longer and temperatures are rising. While I may not be going for gold or to Japan for that matter, my hope is that I will have made my own progress in the pool, in time for the 2020 games.
Special thanks to Emi Kambe.