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On the cover: Plane by Ryo Takemara

What inspired our cover illustration, Plane? 

It’s themed on the anticipation of summer, and was made as part of a series focused on the joy of travelling. It’s an image depicting escape – a journey abroad, across the sea. I hope it encourages the viewer to plan a journey.

How did you become an artist?

I was originally studying at a “normal” university, but cut that short and transferred to an art school. I majored in design, graduated and became an illustrator. It’s the direction I always wanted to go in.

You are known for capturing the spirit of cities. What do you look for when you travel?

I go about finding inspiration by walking around cities for hours and then expressing what I feel in my art. My work doesn’t explicitly feature a lot of people, but when I’m in a new city, I focus on observing its residents and try to express their presence in my work, often in subtle ways. I observe my surroundings, take a lot of photos, and then return to my studio to draw. I take things I see on a walk, scenes I come across when travelling, rearrange them in my head and draw them.

What techniques do you use?

I pay a lot of attention to the texture of the colours, and use the technique of combining paper of different colours to express contrasts.

What is Japan’s art scene like at the moment?

I’d say the scene is thriving. Both professionals and amateurs promote their work through social media, which is a sign of a healthy scene. Anyone can get their art out there without having to go through gatekeepers.

The Japanese Olympic Committee recently ditched their Tokyo 2020 logo due to a negative public reaction and replaced it with the winning entry of a competition. What are your thoughts on this?

Design and illustration are directed at everyone in society, but going too far to please the masses can be counterproductive. The audience’s opinions have to be respected, of course, but swallowing people’s opinions whole and letting them affect your creative process will eventually make your art boring and bland.

What other news story grabbed your attention this quarter? 

The North Korean hydrogen bomb test, which was followed by several missile tests. It hits very close to home and is scary, to be frank. The terrifying thing is we barely know anything about what’s going on inside North Korea, despite the constant flood of news stories.

Ryo Takemasa’s work can be viewed at

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