PEOPLEText: Yuji Shinfuku

Vivid colorful salmon by handmade using pencils. Portrait photographs which has scribbled lines created with programmer. A large variety of her works have many characteristics and aspects and they captivate us beyond our notion of design. Yokohama born, New York based designer Ayaka Ito‘s works contain web design, graphic design, illustration through various medias, and her works are always filled with colorful and amusing images. She studied interactive design and communication design at the collage in the United States, and she is making works across genres – web, paper medium, three dimensional woks, films. By analyzing her works, it can be said that her stance is more creator rather than graphic designer. I interviewed her working overseas in New york city about passion and creativity.

Portrait, Scribbed Line People, Ayaka Ito

Please tell us about yourself.

Ayaka Ito, born in 1988. I am a graphic designer, illustrator from Yokohama, Japan. I am working in a graphic design company RoAndCo Studio which has clients in fashion/art industry in New York city.

In your works, we see elements of illustration, design, film… so many mixed media. how do you divide those different elements within yourself?

I don’t think those factor is separate when I make my works. I always try whatever idea I find interesting, so if some technique is necessary for that I study and learn them through enough to handle and put into the project. In that sense, my job occupation is rather creator than just graphic designer or illustrator.

Scribbed Line People, Ayaka Ito

in your work “Scribbled Line People”, you combine wire drawing by Photohop and Flash programing, In “Paper Letters” you make three dimensional typography with lots of colorful papers. How did you start to make these works?

I started making Scribbled Line People in 2008 with Randy Church, a colleague I met when I went to Rochester Institute of Technology, and kept making the series until today. I was in New Media Design major and studied lots of things from Interactive design to programing, photography, 3D. Randy was specialist for Flash programing, and I liked to make art by photography, so we joined together to express what we can do by our passions and skills.

I made Paper Letters when I worked in an interactive design company after collage, I happened to make this work while I studied typography by myself and tried to brush up my design skill. I wanted to make a work that I need more detailed handy craft, then I just pick up color papers I found at my house and made a typography with that. I was so lucky that work was going to be appeared on magazine and books.

Scribbed Line People, Ayaka Ito Collaboration with Randy Church

Tell us a little bit more about Scribbled Line People. The work has very characteristic image that no one ever made before, I heard you develop the method of this work with a programmer.

Scribbled Line People is a work that portrait figure looks like being shredded like papers. Each photography has different theme but as a whole concept of this series is “questioning about the existence of a person supposed to be here suddenly become unstable existence”. I tried to express the people’s transparent and fragile existence which is like a piece of paper.

I made this work with a programmer Randy Church. The biggest hurdle to finish this piece was how to combine the figure with 3 dimensional line which looks like existing in real world. Our idea of how to solve the issue was to create our own flash software to convert the lines I made by my hands into 3 dimensional lines. By combining 3D line by that software with other 3D software Cinema4D and Photoshop, we managed to recreate the texture that it is hard to express by hands.

Paper Letters, Ayaka Ito. Photo of magazine provided by Jeff Line

I see standalone handmade and craft texture in your works. How do you recognize those elements? Also please tell us how you come up with the idea to use animal motifs in your works.

I really like handmade object because it has familiar and special atmosphere for me.
I like to make works by hands and I prefer to make works without using technology if I can. I often look at picture books and sometimes I get inspiration from them to use animal motif in my works.

Tuna Magic, Ayaka Ito. A 55″x15″ color pencil drawing for a skateboard deck design. Digitally scanned and printed on a wooden skateboard deck.

Do you feel the transition of your style from early to recent works? Which work do you like the best that you’ve done so far?

When I looks back to works I made, I feel what I focused on had been always changing. I had always made what I wanted to make at that time so.

The most memorable work I made was probably illustration work Tuna Magic. It was a design for skate board which has large size 140cm x 140cm, I made this work only with color pencils. My recent favorite is combining illustration with typography, and I felt satisfied when I finished my works without using technology.

Urban Daddy Cycling Classic is one of my favorite project. I collaborate this illustration work with Red Paper Heart for music and art festival E2NY which held once a year in New York City. It was for cycling project which is the game riding bicycle with opponent in 60 seconds as fast as you can.

I took a role in installation project and made a drawings with color pencils. It was really exiting process working with designers and programmers of Red Paper Heart and finishing work together that it is hard to handle by myself.

Urban Daddy Cycling Classic, Ayaka Ito Collaboration with Red Paper Heart

In your website, there are lots of your illustrations and it has colorful and characteristic atmosphere. How do you imaged your website when you made it?

Since it is my personal website I just clammed everything I like and tried to make “fun” site. I like to use vivid colorful, and I paid attention to the colors to make website joyful but at the same time I paid attention not to make it fancy.

Scribbed Line People, Ayaka Ito

Now you are working based in New York city. What do you think of the significance of working based in New york city? What do you get from there?

I was born and grown up in Yokohama, Japan, but I went to international school and study in english language since my childhood, I had made up my mind to do a job in

foreign countries. Also I didn’t have a confidence to do work in Japanese language. The reason I start working based in New York is I got my first job work in New York city!

I just wanted to live and work anywhere if I can speak english language. But now I feel lucky to come to this city and this is the place to be. New York is attractive city especially if you are involved in design/art/fashion field, I can’t find the place like New York anywhere else. Here I can meet the people from all around the world and learn different perspectives from them.

what do you pay attention when you design your work? Is there any your own persistance in design? Also please tell us your source of inspiration when you make your works.

I recognize design is always based on ideas and concepts. Concepts are often generated through communications. So I always emphasis on communication with others. On that basis, I always value challenging new things even which is not design field and get feedback from them.

Is there anything you have in your mind and plan to do in future?

I pursuit my style in New York City and keep making what I like!

Text: Yuji Shinfuku

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