Interview by Jenkin Au and Alan Ng
Words by Ryan Goldade and Alan Ng
Photography by Jenkin Au
Location: Toronto[Show Text Only Version][Hide Text Only Version]
Shingo Shimizu is a Montreal-born, Toronto-bred design that has been exposed to drawing at an early age. He is also a graduate of the Ontario College of Art and Design’s Communication and Design program. Having produced visual creatives for numerous clients including Coca-Cola, Virgin Mobile and Toyota, he is one designer in Canada that people should pay attention to.
The justalilhype! Crew got a chance to ask Shingo about his early life, his years in college, and his experiences working as a full-time designer. Shingo tells us about his transition to working independently, and further discusses about his passion, Illustration. Aside from art and design, he also mentioned to us about his love for music, as he uncovers to us through the interview that he is also a DJ.
Please tell our readers about yourself.
I studied graphic design at Ontario College of Art and Design. From there, I had a few full-time jobs as a graphic designer but I was never good at doing layouts. I would say that’s my weakest point. My strengths I’ve stuck with are logos, pictograms and illustrations. I think people picked up on that so through that I did flyers for club events. It spread really quickly and soon after I was meeting art directors and getting into the illustration game. That’s how I got to where I am now. I stuck with it.
A lot of artists draw on their background for inspiration. How does your upbringing influence your style?
I grew up on a lot of manga where a lot of my friends grew up with North American style comics. I think that’s a big difference. I still love North American style comics like Marvel and DC but I would have to say that I’m naturally drawn to manga. My sketch book gravitates towards that style. Other than that, I’ve always loved surrealism and pop-art. Obviously I loved Warhol.
I think what really stuck out for me, style-wise. When I was growing up, I picked up a comic called Arkam Asylum. It’s a hard cover book. It really stuck out for me stylistically. I was thinking that this was not like any other comic. It was really different and raw. That was when I first came across spray textures. I was young so it probably didn’t stick with me ‘til now.
Tell us about your learning experience at OCAD. How did attending the school help you today in your career as an artist?
During my time at school, the colors of the computers in the computer labs were all beige. That pretty much sums up how different it was. Even then, computers were just getting popular as a design tool and a lot of us wanted to depend on it but at the time our instructors were very reluctant. They would want us to use the photocopier or cut and paste. It was a very hands-on approach. I think that’s really shaped me as an illustrator now, like how I approach brainstorming and coming up with ideas. The only difference is that I would probably do a lot of my research online now instead of the library. I think the instructors were also very different. They were really old–in a good way! They really taught us the basics, which are fundamental. I’m sure there are a lot of great instructors now but I don’t really know.
I walked in a few years ago and I noticed the level of work was quite a bit different. I wasn’t really too impressed with the work I saw being presented in the hallways, whereas I’ve always been impressed with the students at Sheraton College. They’re a huge animation and illustration school.
What mediums do you use?
It really depends on what projects I get, especially what effects I’m trying to obtain. If I need textures, I’ll definitely create my textures from scratch. For paper textures, I’ll go to a paper store and research some papers and get it scanned. I usually start off with hand drawn sketches for sure. Since I work with vectors, I scan in a quality drawing and trace it and then polish it up in Photoshop.
What does producing creative visuals for Coca-Cola, Virgin Mobile, and Toyota, as well as being recognized by Advertising & Design Club of Canada mean to you as an illustrator?
It’s great. The best thing about working really hard is being recognized and rewarded for it. I think the toughest thing for a lot of artists out there is that they work probably harder than I do and they haven’t been recognized yet. It’s tough. The competition is crazy out there, especially with the internet.
What advice would you give to up-and-comers who are trying to become recognized?
You can’t stop! Because of the internet, everything is saturated. Because of all those creative source websites, you have to compete with that. You just have to keep at it and be open to new ideas. You have to just keep improving yourself and your style. Everything is now evolving so much quicker and you have to be ahead of that.
With a growing client list, how do you prioritize your projects? How do you select your projects these days?
It just kind of comes in. If the money’s good, you take it. That’s my advice. It’s all about balancing commercial projects. That’s what will put food on the table and give you some time to coast while you work on your personal stuff. For me, I just take them at the moment.
How do you draw the balance between catering to the client while putting your own style into it?
It was in the beginning because I didn’t really have a style. I came from a design background where I could produce whatever the client requested. At the same time, I would do it in my own way but stylistically it wasn’t my style. From there, that was my basis. It wasn’t like I came out of nowhere and had a style. I could do various styles. At the time, the client knew that so they would ask me to do a certain style. Now, I have three or four styles which I’ll take to a client and see which one they like. I’ve been in the game for over ten years now so they’re confident in my work.
One of your specializations is character design. What’s your approach to creating these characters?
I talk about it with the client, because the client has a vision (usually blurry) of what they want and I guide them to it. It’s kind of like doing a police sketch where someone will say, “No, the nose needs to be a little more narrow.” So we’ll go back and forth until it’s right and everybody is happy. Then we’ll do a polished version and spin-off characters from that.
Have you ever considered creating a Shingo character?
I think my problem is that I get tired of things easily, that’s why I think the toughest thing for me is to do my own logo/identity. That’s why the website is pretty plain. I might eventually do an animal and keep a template but change the animal whenever I get bored.
What is HYPE?
The tingly excitement you felt encountering something so badass, you want to share it with the rest of the world.