Japanese people take "new year" very seriously and are superstitious about "first" anything to predict how well the year is going to be. For example, "first dream of the year" is believed to be the best if you have dreamt of 1)Mt. Fuji 2)hawk 3)egg plant. Why egg plant? Not sure. But I am not making these up!
In this long, cold and snowy winter in New York, my work day started on January 3, Monday. Sunny. My first job of the year was to walk down to Magnolia Pictures office near my studio for the screening of an epic 2 hour + long new samurai film 13 Assassins directed by Takashi Miike, who is very popular with his horror films such as "Ichi The Killer" and "Audition". The project wa to create a poster. Now, if this 'first job of the year' would predict my 2011, then I have to say I had an amazing start of a year.
On and off for about two month, I worked with Matt Cowal, VP Marketing/Publicity of Magnolia Pictures. I have to say I had such a fun time working on this.
The main actor of the film is Koji Yakusho, who played Miyamoto Musashi in a popular Japanese TV series in the 80s, which I was obsessed as a kid. And I get to draw him! Now, this didn't happen even in my "first dream". My dear friend and illustrator/calligrapher Ai Tatebayashi contributed beautiful lettering for the poster design.
Find more about 13 Assassins and watch the trailer here. 13 Assassins will be released in the theaters next Friday, April 29th.
Before we go, let's talk about things that gets me in the 'mood': i.e. Reference materials.
There were of course, a lot more things I had looked at, of course, but these three are staples when I work on samurai theme. From left, Heroes & Ghosts Japanese Prints by Kuniyoshi. I initially bought this book for my first job for Rolling Stone Magazine years ago, and have been heavily referencing since. Center is a book of art by Kawanabe Gyosai. On the right is relatively contemporary Miyata Masayuki's papercut illustrations that accompanied Eight Dogs' Tale by writer Yamada Futaro, which was initially published on Asahi Newspaper in early 80s.
Miyata Masayuki is not well known outside of Japan, but he was a genius. I wanted to share some of the pages from this book.