Hasbro's Transformers Optimus Prime kabuki style by Acky Bright

Hasbro TRANSFORMERS x Tokyo Direct! Optimus Prime in Japanese kabuki style by artist Acky Bright!

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Hasbro’s Optimus Prime in Japanese kabuki style by artist Acky Bright

We are so proud to announce the new Hasbro Transformers x Tokyo Direct collaboration!

Find this cool T-shirt here on Hasbro Pulse:

Read the interview with Acky Bright!

Q: How would you describe your art style?

A: I started off doing graffiti. I didn’t major in art when I was in school, and self-taught myself how to draw. When I was young, I would be imagining something, and then grab a pencil and paper to start doodling. I would doodle on the back of pamphlets or inside my text books. My drawings got better as I went, and then before I knew it, I became a pro artist. (laughs) It’s not much of an answer, but I can’t put a label on my art style because I always just end up drawing in a style that I think makes the picture look the best, rather than following specific rules.

Q: Who are your influences? Do you have a favorite artist?

A: I can’t even begin to limit how many artists have influenced me. There are so many. Other than famous artists, I’m also influenced by smaller creators who are still making a name for themselves. So, rather than just having a single influence or favorite, I’m inspired by all these great artists that I come across, and want to learn from all of them.

Q: How did you approach the Optimus Prime artwork? What do you feel your unique art style brought to the character?

A: First off, I had to keep in mind that this wasn’t another piece of fan art I was drawing, but an official piece. Because of that, I couldn’t just put whatever style I wanted, but made sure to go back and study all the past designs that existed, and took those silhouettes and parts, then integrated my style into them to create an “Acky version Optimus Prime” that would make fans happy. I drew him freehand rather than using set artistic rules, which allowed me to express Optimus Prime as a living creature rather than a machine. By the way, the pose he’s in was inspired by kabuki theater where his front hands are open.

Q: Who’s your favorite Transformers character? And why?

A: I love Optimus Prime. I also love the Decepticons and Starscream. In other words, I love all of them. (laughs)

I’ve loved Transformers since I was a kid, and got very excited while watching the live-action movies. I want to go back to my younger self, and show him that I’m a part of this project!

Hasbro's Transformers Bumblebee in classic Japan art style for T-shirts

Hasbro TRANSFORMERS x Tokyo Direct! Bumblebee in classic era Japan style by artist Crimson15!

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Hasbro's Transformers Bumblebee in classic Japan art style for T-shirts
Hasbro’s Transformers Bumblebee in classic Japan style by Tokyo Direct artist Crimson15

We’re so proud to announce Hasbro’s Transformers collaboration with Tokyo Direct!

Go to this link to buy the shirt from Hasbro Pulse!

Check out the interview with CRIMSON15!

Q: How would you describe your art style?

A: My art style is to draw things that could exist in everyday life, but don’t; settings that have a small different from our everyday world. It’s not a very good example, but my drawings all depend on my surroundings and feelings at the time. Like, when I draw something cool looking or something “kawaii,” it’s usually due to a movie I saw or book I read that day. I have fun whether I’m drawing something realistic, or something in a chibi style.

When I began drawing, I wanted to have a realistic style. But when I became a professional, and started to get more work, I thought that rather than being bound to a single art style, it’ll be good to be able to draw in many styles. Being able to try my hand in various styles has helped me grow as an artist.

Even when I’m drawing something that I like, I use my imagination to change it in some way. Thanks to that, it’s become my style to try various styles of art.

Q: Who are your influences? Do you have a favorite artist?

A: When I was in my middle-school art class, I always felt an affinity for art that would change in appearance depending on the time of day and weather, like Claude Monet’s “Rouen Catherdral” or “Haystacks.” I’ve since been using water colors when I draw, and always keep the idea of passing time in mind even when I draw the same character or backgrounds multiple times.

When I’m drawing digitally, I like to draw characters from manga, anime, and games. I’m a big fan of manga. I especially love the dark world setting of “Dorohedoro” by Q Hayashida, or the various character designs that appear in “One Piece” by Eiichiro Oda, and take a lot of inspiration from them.

For American comics, I’ve read a lot of X-Men stories. I’ve been inspired by the illustrations and comic-style movie posters drawn by Mark Brooks, and the monster and human designs by my fellow Japanese illustrator Sana Takeda.

In the end, I want my art style to have a motif where the approach and look changes as time passes, and have different stories to tell by looking at them.

Q: What video games have you worked on? What your favorite part about working on video games?

A: I’ve worked on app games for CyberAgent Group, BandaiNamco Entertainment, and others. I’ve overseen designs for enemy character and monsters, items, and backgrounds. The thing I enjoy most about being a Game Art Designer is that you can create a large world in just a short amount of time, and with a limited number of people. If you’re just by yourself creating something, the world your creating becomes limited. I like the style in a game company where lots of ideas are shared everyday in creating a world. I get inspired everyday by the new discoveries there.

I’m also happy when my ideas or illustrations get used in a game, and the players enjoy playing them.

Q: How has your work in video games influenced your art style?

A: I touched on this briefly earlier, but I’ve started to have a story in my mind for all of my drawings. When I was a student, I used to often draw things that had my interests in them. When I became a Game Art Designer, the way I draw my illustrations went from something only I would see, to something many people would see. I’ve also become aware of the colors I use, the movements of characters, the lighting when I draw which depend on perspective.

Like other artists, a single drawing I make is a process of trial and error. That’s why I’m always happy when people see my art, and they end up talking about it and have different emotions towards it.

Q: How did you approach the Bumblebee artwork? What do you feel your unique art style brought to the character?

A: Firstly, I made sure not to stray from Bumblebee’s characterization and his yellow color. My theme this time around was “Japanese,” so I thought about taking a robot, and placing him in Japanese samurai armor. Then there’s the female character in my drawing. Bumblebee’s character has always been that he’s able to make human friends easily. I thought the female character I drew could be his human partner like in the shows and movies.

For the drawing’s aesthetic, I used water color, which is what I often use during my live-painting events. Bumblebee’s mechanical yellow and the natural pink of cherry blossoms mixed very well, and ended up transforming into a very Japanese feel.

Q: Who’s your favorite Transformers character? And why?

A: I love Bumblebee’s comical style, and how he’s always friendly towards humans!

I also watched the various Transformers shows, and love Starscream. He plays the part of an underling, but he’s always trying to place himself as the new leader. It’s funny how he always seems to fail, but is always forgiven. (laughs) He’s seems to be the most evil of the Decepticons, but has the most charisma of them, and is always a series regular.

He’s the opposite of Bumblebee, and adds another layer to the series that viewers can enjoy.

Hasbro's Transformer Megatron: Beast Wars in Japanese Sumi Ink Style for T-shirts

Hasbro TRANSFORMERS x Tokyo Direct! Megatron Beast Wars in Sumi Ink by artist Hidekichi Shigemoto!

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Megatron: Beast Wars in Sumi Ink by Hidekichi Shigemoto

We’re so proud to announce the Hasbro Transformers x Tokyo Direct collaboration!

Go to this link to buy the shirt from Hasbro Pulse!

Here is the interview with artist Hidekichi Shigemoto for Hasbro Pulse:

Q: You are one of the top sumi-e (Japanese ink painting) artists in the world, what about sumi-e attracted you to that style of painting?

A: Sumi-e is a special style within the ink painting history of Asian culture. As long as you use Sumi (which translates to “Black Ink” in Japanese), you’re drawing sumi-e. However, when I express my Sumi with broad brush strokes to give my pictures a special dynamic. I used inspiration from the charcoal drawings I studied back in high school and university.

Ever since I was young, I’ve loved the black ink style that’s unique to Japanese manga. Compared to that, Sumi-E and other ink paintings of nature, flowers, and birds that are common in Japan looked dated to me, and didn’t appeal to the young me. Even when I enrolled in the Osaka University of Art as a Design Major, and started learning about Illustrations (where I remember using Liquitex ink to draw highly detailed drawings for my major), I didn’t even think about studying Sumi-e.

But when I became a freelance illustrator, I knew I had to create an original style for myself, or I wouldn’t get any jobs. At that time, I listened to a lot of Black Music, and drew a couple of the music artists using sumi ink for fun. I became hooked to sumi ink instantly. It was a true revelatory moment for me.

I thought, “Maybe there should be a new Sumi-e style that didn’t exist, and had a new touch.” That’s when I started to draw not just musicians, but also athletes, historical figures, samurai, etc.

Sumi-e may have a deep history, but it’s form of expression is up to the painter, like other art forms. It doesn’t care about traditions, rules, or patterns. It’s up to the painter to figure out the idea, art style, and motif. I take that to heart when I draw my paintings.

Q: Who are your influences? Do you have a favorite artist?

A: For my art style, I had no teacher, nor do I intend to take on any students. I’ll say that it probably took me 10 years to master drawing a person in a dynamic pose with just the splashes and strokes of sumi ink.

Personally, people that I’ve thought as amazing as I study art, and who all have a certain personal touch are the Japanese artists Hokusai Katsushika, Tohaku Hasegawa, and Ichimura Tanaka. I also need to mention the manga artist Katsuhiro Otomo, who’s a big inspiration. And, of course, there’s the Godfather of Manga, Osamu Tezuka.

I don’t want to sound pompous, but I hope that I become remembered as the Godfather of Sumi-e Illustrations one-day.

I also have to acknowledge those few Sumi-e artists that have been upcoming that have a similar style to my own. I don’t know if they even know about me, but I hope my style helped the Sumi-e genre, and they’re taking inspiration from me. (laugh)

One thing I hope is that each of these artists find their own unique touches also.

Q: What other notable characters have you depicted in sumi-e style?

A: I’ve drawn characters from the series “Mobile Suit Gundam,” “Ultraman,” “Godzilla,” “Neon Genesis Evangelion,” “Kamen Rider,” and “Tekken,” just to name a few.

Q: How have you made the sumi-e style your own?

A: I somewhat ended up answering this in the first question, but I like to forget about the history behind Sumi-e drawings, and draw with my feelings. It’s drawing with whatever comes to my mind first, then doing it over-and-over again until I’m satisfied with the results. It’s during this process when the running touches (the brush strokes), and the flying touches (the splashes) start to define my Sumi-e style.

Q: How did you approach the Beast Wars Megatron artwork in the sumi-e style?

A: I love the looks of mechanisms that come together in things like factory spaces, motorbikes, and F1 race cars. I’ve drawn a lot of Sumi-e images before of those subjects. My F1 car and basketball player illustrations are actually in high school art text books now in Japan as an example of “the new Sumi-e style.”

Megatron himself has a lot of similar thick lines to his character, which made him especially easy and enjoyable to draw.

The question for me was, “How can I use shadows often in Sumi-e drawings to make something inorganic (a machine) feel organic?” I tried to capture the essence of “Transformers” of vehicles/objects that turn into humanoid robots, but when people look at them, these robots have a “soul” to them.

Q: Who’s your favorite Transformers character? And why?

A: Sadly, I never watched the original Transformers cartoon, but have watched all the movies. My favorite character from there is Rachet. I love 4WD vehicles, and my personal car is actually an orange JEEP. Rachet being a yellow HUMMER stood out to me in terms of his design.

Snacktime face mask

VAPOR95 x Tokyo Direct new partnership!

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We are incredibly proud to announce Tokyo Direct’s new partnership with cool brand VAPOR95! On their site can be found numerous Japanese pop artist designs on many products you will love!

Please follow this link to the TOKYO DIRECT COLLECTION on Vapor95!

Hiragana Face Mask by Tokyo Direct for Vapor95
Hiragana speech bubbles Face Mask by Tokyo Direct artist Omochi for Vapor95
Monster zipper Face Mask design Tokyo Direct for Vapor95
Original design by Crimson15 & Tokyo Direct for Vapor95 Face Masks
Musha Hoodie in black Tokyo Direct
Musha design by Acky Bright for Tokyo Direct Collection on Vapor95 site.
No touch T-shirt Tokyo Direct
No Touch T-shirt design by artist Shinnosuke Uchida for Tokyo Direct Collection on Vapor95