Junichi Tsuneoka was born and raised in Japan and upon graduating Waseda University in Tokyo, he has arrived in US at the end of 20th century. After being a graphic designer for 5 years, Junichi has established a style often recognized as “California Roll Stylie,” the result of both visual and conceptual fusion of Japanese pop culture and U.S. urban culture. He founded STUDIO STUBBORN SIDEBURN to broaden his visual communication and to employ his visual language in art, illustration, and design. Junichi’s pieces are very unique, with highly communicative, assertive graphics, and contain clear signs pointing back to his strong design background.
When did you first decide to become a graphic designer/ illustrator? Was there a pivotal moment?
I wanted drawing for my job for a long time but I wasn’t exactly sure how. I had a one year exchange program when I was a Junior in college in Japan. I went to Southern Oregon University. I found graphic design class there. In Japan, normal 4 year colleges don’t offer any art classes (my major was English) so it was really refreshing. There I learned more than just to draw and I thought I had a hint of how to make career out of my artistic side of talent. Then while I was hired at Modern Dog Design, They encouraged me to use my own illustration into my design projects and they let me experiment a lot too.
Who or what inspires you?
I try to look at variety of stuff. For example, when I go to bookstore to look at magazines, I force myself to look at magazines like “Vogue,” stuff that I don’t usually look at. Same as music, I like to listen to Hip Hop, R&B type of sound but sometimes I force myself to listen to Classics. I am also word oriented person. I like to write down funny phrases (at least for me) like, “monkey business” or “when shit hits the fan” etc. This kind of phrases gives me inspirations sometimes.
Where does your training come from? Self-taught? College/Art School?
I try to make something better than yesterday. I try to experiment to my own style. I try to look at as much as art around to get influences.
What are some of your current projects?
Logo for a music label, package design for a tea company, series of music posters, sticker illustration etc.
Which of your projects are you the most proud of? And why?
Screenprinted posters I have done. Screen printed posters are not produced by machine and there is some value to it.
When I get the posters in my hand, it is a sort of piece of art for me and I really like the quality of it that any other commercially produced print doesn't have.
Are there any areas, techniques, mediums, projects in your field that you have yet to try?
I think there is a lot. Hopefully I can find my own field that no body tried yet.
Any advice to the novice designer/ illustrator?
Talent means "effort" in my dictionary. That is not something you were born with.
What makes a designed piece or illustration successful?
I would like to think if one can emotionally involve with the piece, that's a successful piece. To me, it doesn't matter if the piece makes you happy or angry.
I would rather piss them off than making them feel nothing.
What do you do to keep yourself motivated and avoid burn-out?
I try to have fun with any kind of project. I think there is a way to turn any boring project to a fun experience.
I try to remember I am doing something I enjoy and I like so much. It has never been difficult to think this way.
Finish this sentence. "If I weren't a designer/illustrator I would have been a..."