-----Based on our Japanese blog-----
Hey there, Shizu Mecha here. Today I have a special treat for all the girls and boys who follow Kotobukiya character goods...
Still not ringing a bell? Even if you don't recognize Sakurai-san's name you're sure to know her designs. I talked with her last week to find out the secret to her illustrative magic and more. Here's what she had to say:
Shizu Mecha (SM): To start with, tell us how you became the golden child of the character goods industry.
I've always liked drawing. Someone from the product planning department got wind of this and offered me a chance to illustrate goods. I was about the last person to believe that my designs would ever be used for products so I was totally shocked.
SM: You're known for being able to make adorable SD characters that keep all the charm of the original design. How long did it take you to develop that style? Could you give us some pointers?
Well, I started out with a few different patterns and with the advice of my co-workers after a few months I wound up at my current style. Or rather, the basis of my style--I try to evolve with each new project. It's really just trial and error. I wind up playing with each design for awhile before I find the best way to pull out their personalities and make them shine. This process differs by series too.
SM: It certainly seems to be working! Can you tell us how you draw?
I use a PC with Windows 7, a Wacom Intuos4 pen tablet along with SAI and Photoshop CS5 software. I always start with the face and only move on to the body after I have it just right.
SM: How do you like the job? Are there any aspects that you pay special attention to or have trouble with?
I’m just thankful to be able to make a living doing what I love. Though of course there are challenges. I strive to draw characters that are instantly recognizable even in SD form. Clothes are always tough, too. Draw too much detail, or leave too many things out, and the design won’t work for production.
SM: I see, you have to take the final form into consideration. Speaking of the finished product, have you ever run into someone using something you've designed?
Yes, and I do a little victory dance every time! It's not easy to do without being noticed and having the police called on me lol. In the end having people say that my drawings are cute is what it's all about!
SM: I’m sure a lot of people reading this own some of your goods. If you see someone staring at your keychain and dancing, now you know why!
Sakurai-san, do you have any new projects in the works?
Yes! But unfortunately all I can say for now is that I am super-deforming all sorts of series right now. I'll make sure it's worth everyone’s wait, so check back with Kotobukiya soon!
One thing I can mention is that I've been playing with the idea of creating original characters. I think that's a natural progression for artists, to put something totally new out there for people to enjoy.
SM: AmiAmi is always rooting for you, along with all of our readers. Is there anything you'd like to say to them before we wrap this up?
First, thanks for taking the time to read this! I'm always trying my hardest to make your favorite characters even cuter and I hope you enjoy them.
I love hearing that fans of a show like my illustrations, but it's also great to hear that my illustrations have turned people onto shows they didn't know much about before.
Kotobukiya and I have lots in store for you! Thanks again!!
SM: As a parting gift Sakurai-san made this amazingly cute Amico for us! Thank you Sakurai-san!!
Here are just a handful of the goods to look for from Sakurai-san and Kotobukiya in 2015!
(C) じん／1st PLACE・メカクシ団アニメ製作部
(C) いのまたむつみ (C)藤島康介 (C)BNGI
(C) 2014 成田良悟/KADOKAWA アスキー・メディアワークス刊/池袋ダラーズ
(C) UTA☆PRI PROJECT
(C) Spike Chunsoft Co.，Ltd. All Rights Reserved.