Kyo (artist name for Kyoko Takahashi) is a Graphic Designer and Art Director based in Tokyo. Kyo was one of the fellow participants in the fantastic Awagami Papermaking Workshop I attended in Japan in the summer, and shares a deep love of paper and design. She is incredibly talented, and runs a busy studio, kyo.designworks, designing flyers for performing artists, theatre companies, and theatres. Kyo also teaches a workshop on designing for flyers. Instead of formal design training, Kyo has picked up and developed her skills on the job over the last decade. I was fascinated to hear how recent events have shaped her perspective on design and life.
1. How are you leading a life doing what you love’
I have been moved by the potential of design. I believe that information ordered by design can help communication and create new perspectives. In my work choices I am always guided by the feeling of whether my art work has delivered something, and made a difference in some way. I have great respect for artists and performers who can create something from zero. Their passion for creation is an inspiration to me. My job is to showcase that on a piece of paper through my designs.
2. What did you do before this?
I started designing in my own way when I was at university. After graduation, I worked in the international department of paper trading company Takeo as an administrator (not yet as a designer), and that was invaluable for learning about the paper industry. Then I worked in the design department of a mail order cosmetics company for three years. There I was involved in product planning, package design, and creating advertisements. After that, I had a chance to work at the design office of Kazuya Kondo. My design skills have been developed and honed as my career has progressed.
3. What did you study?
I have never been to art school. I majored in Western Art History at the International Christian University in Tokyo. Even now, I often get more inspiration from great historical artists than from contemporary graphics or art works.
4. What has been your biggest challenge in your current work?
Making the big decision to participate in the annual Awagami Papermaking Workshop this summer. For me, it was a challenge to get out of daily busy routine and do something different, and the workshop was a dream come true. Besides that, I am always fighting against limited budget and deadlines!
5. What mistake has taught you the most?
I always regret it when I submit a final piece of artwork to a client that I am not completely satisfied with myself, even when the client loved it. I have realized that above anything, I need to be satisfied with and proud of my own work.
6. Who is your role model and why?
There are many designers who always inspire me, but the most inspiring person I know is my mother who is a piano teacher and singer. She has always told me to “Be someone who is referred to as a teacher.” I understood this to mean “Be professional and a leader” in whatever field you are working in.
Dancer Megumi Kamimura
7. What is the best advice you have received as an artist/designer?
My design master Kazuya Kondo told me, “Be sure to add one single challenge every time you create something” and this has been very important to me. I always want to be open to new perspectives, be ambitious, and never stop improving. I think these efforts will define my skills and expand my possibilities.
8. What is your big dream as a designer?
I suffered from Hunt’s Syndrome (nerve paralysis) in 2010, and at the same year, I lost my best friend to cancer. The following year our country suffered the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, at a time when I was still rehabilitating myself from the aftereffects of my illness. Since then, my values have come more into focus and my aims for work have changed. Before I only worked to work, but now I am facing a new phase as a designer, and also as a person. I am still thinking about what my lifelong priorities are. These days I love making things with my hands, I am trying to combine a sense of the handmade into my graphic design.
See here for more interviews with inspiring people doing what they love