Interview with Ryohei Tanaka
Images courtesy of Zachary Pelliccio and the Rowan Morrison Gallery
About 3 year ago, through an art purchase I got to meet my now good friend, Ryohei Tanaka. I purchased a custom design from Tanaka for a new t-shirt I was working on. The graphic for the t-shirt came out looking phenomenal. So I hadn’t been in contact with Ryohei for some time and then one day out of nowhere, I received a letter from Japan. I was ecstatic, Ryohei had sent me a copy of his annual calendar of paper cuts. I knew this would be someone that was perfect for wallfarmers!
ZP: So do you still live in Tokyo, and if so how long have you lived there?
RT: I am living in Tokyo all my life except when I went to high school in Connecticut for 2 years and California art college for about 6 years, but in those 8 years I still visited my home time to time.
ZP: What do you like most about America?
RT: I like that my friends are here.
ZP: And what do you hate most about America?
RT: The fact my friends live too far from me.
ZP: Do you have any family? Wife, kids, pets?
RT: I live with my parents and a elder sister. My other elder sister bring her 2 daughters everyday.
That's all family I've got.
ZP: So you went to school in California, at the California College of Arts and Crafts, but your major was Film? I guess my first question is how did you pick this college? And then what happen to the film thing?
RT: I wanted to study film and illustration when I was in high school. CCAC had both of them. My movies were not like film school flicks but it is entertaining art school movie. You can't really see my movies but there is one movie you can see on you tube that me and my friend Pete Glover, who runs the gallery in Oakland where I am having show in March, co-directed.
(By the way, great movie check it out if you in the mood for something funny, but a little different!)
ZP: How did you get out of film and into the paper cuts?
RT: I was doing paper cuts, painting and drawing before film. Most of my movies were about making art.
ZP: Who taught you how to do the paper cuts?
RT: Nobody, really.
ZP: How long does it take to make one of the cut outs, and what tools do you use?
RT: Depends on sizes and details. I guess it's around up to three minutes to three weeks. I use scissors. Nothing fancy but the one with tiny point. Most expensive scissors I have is about $16. and other funny shape blade scissors for gift cards. Also those hole punchers with different shapes.
ZP: I am first very amazed at the cut outs and then I wonder patience, are you a very calm and patient person? How would you describe yourself other then "a person who does things funny" ?
RT:I have no patience. I think I have an attention disorder even though I never went to take a test to check if I actually have a disorder. I do paper cuts because it shows direct result. Once I make a cut I can't really go back and that's good. If I make no mistake it is the shortest way to see the finished piece. I just want too see what I have made. I am too impatient and lazy to plan out a project. I get bored very easily.
The quote is from Buster Keaton who said " a good comedian does funny things, a great comedian does things funny." I just like that quote.
ZP: I love the cut outs...all the people, all the creatures and all the sex?! But what would you describe as your biggest source of inspiration for your artwork?
RT: I guess Manga, comics are where the most of my inspiration came from.
ZP: Where is your next show and what is the theme of the show?
RT: Here, here! http://www.rowanmorrison.com/
There is no theme but I am hoping to blow your mind away!!!