Time for us to introduce you to something a little different! We pride ourselves on being in touch with pop culture and in a beautiful melge of music and video games with some wonderful art, we made contact with Takekiyo a Japenese graphic designer where using his previous work experience at Bandai Namco and a passion for good music he has transformed some of his favourite icons into 8-bit characters. The questions for this interview came from our superwoman Una, with the power of translation…
Una: You worked previously as a graphic designer in the video games industry?
Takekiyo: When I was 19 years old I was a computer graphics student at a technical college and at the same time I interned at a video game company. I made video games for 15 years.
Una: At which companies were you based?
Takekiyo: I worked for several companies but the main one was BANDAI NAMCO.
Una: Which video games did you work on?
Takekiyo: I was part of the core team on Digimon and Dragon Ball Z video games.
Una: You’ve now seamlessly merged the worlds of video games and music. How did that happen?
Takekiyo: I liked music as much as video games when I was a teenager.
Later on, I decided to make a career in games and keep music as a hobby. At that time, the two things never crossed over in my mind.
After I left Bandai Namco, my life was changed and I started to think… I have both video game and music knowledge so I may be able to express something using the good parts of each. I started making bands pixel art and later made contact with some bands.
Una: Do you work independently?
Takekiyo: Yes, I am working alone with support from bands and management companies.
Una: Which designs have proved most popular? Tim Burgess is a big fan, along with the work you have done for Bands F.C.
Takekiyo: I have been working with the girl punk group “BiSH” for a few years. This is popular in Japan.
Of course, in the UK, working with The Charlatans has been my biggest project so far. ASH, Bloc Party, Superorganism and some lesser known bands have also used my designs for merchandising.
And I think that the Bands FC exhibition at the Royal Albert Hall will be an important one for me.
Una: We’re based in Manchester, so we particularly loved the Oasis graphic for Bands FC… would you also consider producing more Manchester bands?
Takekiyo: I have previously drawn The Smiths…
… New Order and The Stone Roses using my old design styles.
Basically, I take my inspiration from the music. If the music grabs me, I start to work on the designs. Your question reminded me of another Manchester-based artist I love, Badly Drawn Boy. I’m working on some designs right now!
Una: What video games are you playing at the moment? Do you revisit any of the 8-bit era for inspiration?
Takekiyo: Recently, I’ve not been so interested in mainstream gaming. The only games I play these days are on my iPhone. Some indie companies are making really interesting games. Big titles have to focus on impressive visuals and complex stories, but I prefer games that have one simple and interesting idea at their heart. Indie companies have more freedom to do this. My favorites recently have been the “Lifeline” series and I was amazed by the design and gameplay of “DEVICE 6”.
Actually, I don’t play retro games these days, but of course I can always revisit them in my brain.
Una: What do you think it is that appeals to people to work with these basic graphics and the revival of retro consoles?
Takekiyo: Reviving the past is not a new thing, and it’s not exclusive to video games. People love nostalgia. 80’s culture is popular now in music, movies, fashion etc. But copying the past is not interesting for me. I don’t think of pixel art as being exclusive to video games. For me, it is a legitimate artistic style that can be used in various media.
Una: Do you have any plans to put your work in print with a book or exhibition here in the UK? Or maybe even create an indie music video game?!
Takekiyo: I’ve had no offers yet, but I would love to make my own pixel art book, and I also want to exhibit again in the UK. Right now, my focus is not on gaming, but in the future if I have a good idea or the chance to collaborate with other game designers, who knows…
Una: What music/movies/video games are you enjoying at the moment?
Takekiyo: I thought Black Mirror: Bandersnatch was an interesting story about a game creator. The interactive storytelling system was exciting and fresh, but at the same time classical.
I listen to a lot of music! Of course, 80’s and 90’s music is always playing in my house: The Charlatans, ASH, The Manics… I’ve also been enjoying newer bands like STRFKR, Superorganism, Sego and Average Sex in recent years.
Una: What are your plans next?
Takekiyo: Next month, I’ll have a group exhibition in Shibuya with other Japanese artists.
After that, if I get the chance I want to exhibit again at UK music venues (record shops, museums, etc).
If you want to find out more about the work of Takekiyo, do take a look at his very cool website, which you’ll find right here: