On April 17th, Salem Innovation Sessions was held at a club, Shibuya Womb, inviting an illustrator from UK, Pete Fowler who is well known for CD jacket design for Super Furry Animals and a figure series named Monsterism. This event invites hot artists from several fields every time. This time’s theme was “from still to motion”.

On the day, the venue was decorated with white canvases which surrounds the venue and on which participants painted on them freely. The event contents was gorgeous; there was talk session by Pete Fowler and live painting performance collaborating with Imai Toonz who joined as a friendship. With very cheerful and fan atmosphere, the whole event was good. Several days after from this event, I interviewed him about himself and his impression of this event.

Firstly, what’s your impression of Salem Innovation Sessions this time?

It’s fantastic. Really really really good. I mainly talked about my work because when I studied in the art school, we had a lot of artists visiting us and talking about their work. It was very inspiring. So, for me it’s important to talk about the work and meet a lot of people. It’s also inspiring to know how people think when they create something.

What’s the concept of the character design for Riki Stool which was in the venue?

The first step was to make what to do with my art work then I felt like making it looks abstract when people see it from distance. Another thing was to use Salem’s theme colour. Colour was very important.

What is music for you?

Music is really really important for my art work. It brings me big inspiration. I always work with music trying to mix my creation and music together. My taste is really wide and broad. I listen to a wide variety of music like Japanese Enka. I don’t have any boundary and division. For me good music is just good music. Music has so many different aspects so I enjoy it.

Could you tell me your current and future project?

Right now, I’m designing new twelve characters for Monsterism series. In the previous series, I designed seven characters. I’m also making a book and the concept is woodland. I’m making a large figure and one of the figure is really limited and we gonna sell it on my web site and in some shop exclusively. I forgot to mention one more thing which is a big project at the moment. I’m writing a script for TV series.

How do you create monster characters?

I’m into non-human characters. Moster can be anything. For me monster is very open and I can create a character that always what I want. Also there might be an influence from my childhood such as comic sor cartoon like UFO or Big Foot. That was always my fascination. People generally think monster is scary but I create monster which looks crazy but cute and friendly. They are actually like human.

How did you start workings as a designer?

When I was in art school, I did a lot of things like painting, sculpture, printing… Three years in my life at the college was very important, having studio there and doing workshop. Then I graduated from the college, I was making comics with my friend. That was the first commercial work. We have a few comics. The one is UFO base. Another thing is more like crazy story comic which is funny and stupid. There is always humor. That is important.

When did you become confident about your creative work?

When I was making comics, it’s more like hobby rather than professional work because it’s cheap to produce comics. I think my first major step was the work for Super Furry Animals. At first, I was very confused because I had to talk with people like clients a lot. To learn how I should communicate with my idea in commercial or proffessional area, it was my first step. For me, the point is whether I can enjoy it or not either in hobby or proffesinal field. What I’m doing is part of my life. Of course there are differences between hobby and professional work, for example, talking with clients. I always try to have same passion and feeling. That’s very important. If I lose them, I can’t enjoy any more.

Could you tell me the things or person inspired you?

I was inspired by a lot of people and things but the biggest thing is that when I visited Japan seven years ago. At that time, I collaborated with Shigeru Mizuki and his influence is very big to me. His work is very rich and full of humor and the point that his work is infuluenced by Japanese folklore is great. That’s what I’m pursing as well, trying to make my folklore.

What’s the most enjoyable work so far?

Of course it’s a figure. When I was a child, I loved drawing comics. I also liked toys. I didn’t think that I create such figures for work at all. It is really my ideal that what I think in 2D become 3D. Communication is important here again. People can bring figures to their home, collect more figures and appreciate or think about them more. That’s what I think of and the cocept of it. Still I can’t believe I’m doing this job. Every day I wake up in the morning and I think I am the most lucky man in the world.

In what process do you create your work? For example, the technics.

My skill is the pencil. I use Photoshop or Illustrator but everyone everybody can learn how to use such software. But drawing is different. This skill is only thing which I can trust in myself.

Do you think being original is important factor?

I think trying to be original is very important thing. We can learn something by copying and discover own style but it takes time. There are a lot of new idea around us. Not just by creating ideas but also mixing several ideas or looking at them from various viewpoint, we can make it more original and more productive. Being original is passionate and very important. I also put it high in my priority list.

Finally, please leave a message to the readers and people who have the aim of becoming a creator.

I was very poor for about first two years but it’s important to stick to the way you believe. What’s important thing than money is passion. If you want to be creative, you shoud keep doing what you are doing at the moment. Sometimes you can’t success but you have to look back it why you can’t make it. Finding the reason is important. To make things success, you sometimes need to be patient. Everybody experience it. The important thing is to keep being concentrated on your own way.

This interview was conducted in short time but he answered every question earnestly and very nice man. He made me think positive and I thought being creative is not so difficult thing. He is a creator who has such power. Of course some talent is needed but I felt the important things are passion, to keep doing what you believe and enjoying. I think these things are important not only for creative people but also for our daily life.

Salem Innovation Sessions is not one time event but it keeps on. I think this type of event is very important and it is great if new things come up from this nice opportunity. Thank you very much, Pete Fowler!!!

Salem Innovation Sessions 2004
Guest: Pete Fowler
Tokyo: April 17th (Sat), 2004 at Shibuya Womb
Osaka: April 23rd (Fri), 2004 at Shinsaibashi Under Lounge
Contact: Salem Innovation Sessions office
Tel: +81-3-5468-6382

Text and Photos: Yasuharu Motomiya from Nordform
Translation: Naoko Fukushi

[Help wanted] Inviting volunteer staff / pro bono for contribution and translation. Please e-mail to us.