– year old artist high Makoto Hashi started his artistic career at 56 and will become what we know now An important force behind the ) shojo (girl) manga art style. His work popularized ballet in the shojo scene, and his character’s large, twinkling eyes are his hallmark. Takahashi is still actively creating new works, with his art appearing in the Comme des Garcons fashion show and exhibitions at his gallery in Sakura, Chiba.
Emmanuel Bochew talks to Takahashi about his artistic process and the inspiration for his recent painting series.
Do you consider yourself a cartoonist or an illustrator?
How do I introduce myself? If someone called me a manga artist, I would accept it as I used to write manga. Then I started selling my paintings because they were so popular. Many people have seen my work in magazines and different publications. Various sales groups came by and asked if I could draw something similar. I took it and did it. So if someone asked me if I was a cartoonist, I would say, “I used to draw cartoons.” That would be my answer because I’m not picky. Right now, I’m drawing shojo style illustrations. Most of the time, I’m doing illustrations.
What is your painting process?
high Bridge: I’ll start with a rough sketch. I’ll add some details if needed. I mean use a backlit table. And then…then I held up the image, like a scene in a cowboy movie, and shot the idea back and forth. There will be many corrections. Then I’ll draw another rough one on top. Do it again. That’s how I do it.
Why are some paintings named after the months of the French Revolutionary Calendar?
high Bridge: You know, in Japan we have… what is January?
Takahashi: You can feel the seasons with this calendar. I’m taking French lessons on the radio. I learned about the Revolutionary Calendar and harvested the grapes in September. They said it was the lunar calendar. I think I’m learning French from Ibuki Takeo [on NHK radio]. So I think it’s the same as Japan. expression of the season. In French, you have the same expression for seasons, as you do in Japan. I started training French to write AB C. They harvest the grapes at the beginning of the month [Vendémiaire, ie September]. In the old Japanese calendar, the first few months were called “Mutsuki” and “Kizuki”. So I learned the French calendar. So funny. I’d be happy if the Japanese discovered it this way and became more familiar with it. So I decided to draw every month. I drew some. It’s still on my to-do list. I really want to make it happen. I will compare it with the Japanese calendar.
Why did you choose these special flowers in the painting series “Rome of Flowers”?
Takahashi: 560 Every country has a flower to symbolize it, or to symbolize the seasons. So I looked up Japanese seasonal flowers in other countries and the order in which they bloom throughout the year. I found it to be the French poppy, when it blooms and so on. I researched each country’s seasonal flower and drew it.
What was the inspiration for the “Samovar” artwork?
high Bridge: I didn’t start by thinking about the country, like Russia or Bulgaria. First, I want to paint birch trees. I want to know how to draw. How to identify birch as Russian in drawing? With just a glance at the painting, the viewer understands the environment. Vegetation is very capricious, you know. Every country is different. totally different. So, at first glance, how can I make sure they understand that birch is in Russia? Or Bulgaria? Or Scandinavia? How can I make it clear?
So in the background, I decided to draw different roofs. Take Russia for example. When we see the onion-shaped roof, we know it’s Russian. Even if we don’t know it’s a birch from Russia, we know it’s Russia. So it becomes Russian birch.
I used different types of buildings for the Scandinavian birch art work to make it easier to understand where this birch came from. I don’t use birch, but its environment. After all these reflections, I started painting.
What do you think of the evolution of shojo Art style?
high Bridge: Difficult question. My theme is “Every girl is a princess”. Princess! This is my opinion. Girls have a point of view that boys don’t. For boys, it’s an unknown world. They don’t know what girls do in everyday life. Of course, I might romanticize it and I want to paint what a young boy might desire for a girl. I think it has something to do with the cuteness of girls. So I’m drawing cute girls because each of them is a princess.
Are you planning to go abroad? 560
Takahashi: 560 I have been to Paris and European countries several times. I was only there for a month when I was busy with the magazine. Then for two months, I walked around this place. I want to paint foreign countries that young Japanese girls dream of. That’s why I go there.
Normally, I don’t take pictures for my personal research. For example, I go there, to the Champs-Élysées in Paris. I will stare and observe it. I will burn my feelings and impressions in my memory. When I go to draw it, it’s not about remembering what it looks like in the photo. It’s about how I feel deep inside. this is important to me. I really can’t take pictures!
When I travel…for example, a girl in Paris. Arc de Triomphe. Even though she has seen it in the pictures, she will be amazed when she stands in front of it! Because it’s so big! It is part of the landscape. So I researched it. You know, I learned about the Arc de Triomphe in school. I finally drew a girl in front of it. Painted for almost a year. I am stuck. I feel like I’m lying. The monument is so big. I had to show it. Even though I drew in a specific way as TAKAHASHI Macoto, I felt like I had to convey my sheer awe and wondered what I was seeing.
I think it’s important to draw, not just what you see. It’s not enough to just paint the way it appears. I think my job is more about replaying my feelings. That’s why I paint so many landscapes. Then you’ll understand…
You have these changing lights on the Champs Elysees…or in Montmartre , you have all these street vendors…all these attractions. As you paint, you have to remember these feelings and create a sense of longing for her to experience them herself. I really think it’s important to express this when painting.
Do you have something to say to your fans?
Takahashi: 560 Well…you can understand how the Japanese feel when they visit a foreign country like Paris. “This is how Japanese tourists feel?” If you want to see what it looks like, you can look at a photo. But when you look at my work, don’t just look at the visuals. look and feel. For me, this is probably the most important.
Speaking of me, I was very impressed when I went sightseeing. Keep this in mind when you look at art. As I said, I had to draw it because I don’t think it’s quite the same as what you see. So when I was impressed, I decided to paint it the way I felt. That’s why I travel in many countries to paint these landscapes.