CEO Mr. Yuji Tsukamoto

I came here today to interview Mr. Tsukamoto who designs logos, maps, posters, and guidebooks of Adachi-ku, Tokyo which we often see around in our daily life. He also designs music class books of elementary school. Because of his arts, many children and adults who forgot excitement take back their smiles.

When I got your business card at the first time, there was a word that you were a musician before. I was wondering how you have sifted to a designer from a musician. Can you tell me your story about this?

I was playing music but it did not go as I expected. I decided to quit a musician and find a job when I was 26 because of the marriage. Since I had never worked for the companies, my options were only limited to the inexperienced person boxes. Then I applied for a creator on website position at the IT company. I had never used PCs and only had a portfolio from the college when I majored in design. The interviewers told me, “You are not qualified for this job since you have no skill for the PC.”

Then, the manager came to see how our interview goes. He told me, “As long as you can draw, PC skills are unnecessary.” He hired me on site. If this timing had gone wrong, my door for design would have been kept closed. Therefore, I sincerely appreciate for this encounter.

It must had been hard for you to use PCs as a web creator from a musician at the first time. What did you feel at that time?

After work, I was always searching for a part time job which I can work for my spare time at night. I was thinking about stabilizing a foundation of family economy because of newlyweds rather than having a passion for design. Moreover, my experience as a musician had been dragging me down emotionally, and I mentally lost my heart. There was a person myself who could not accept the fact that things did not go well as expected.

I only had limited budget for allowance, but I bought a variety of books like management, marketing, and a magazine for corporate manager, which none of them were directly related to me at that time. For three years until I start my own business, I kept reading them and put in practice from the book. It was very interesting to see and experience how the things go well because of the information from the books. Then I have realized that there was a person myself who enjoy growing up and learning a lot from the books.

After my first son was born and experienced three companies in three years, I started my own business in order to spend more time with my son. I was not afraid of running my own business, but people around me had stopped me. But I wanted to think while I was running. I did not have a concept of making a sales call at all, but instead, all I did was just praying in my heart, “Please give me an inquiry”. Curiously enough, I got some inquiries and made appointments with clients.

However, I kept updating my website so that I get more inquiries. I had experienced three companies before and none of them were design business, so I had to think, be creative, and learn myself. I admire Walt Disney Productions because it gives dreams and move people. I wanted to do the same through music before, but now I want to deliver the same concept through my design. Therefore, I created a character called “Unjour” to make people smile as I have visualized.

When I brought my drawings to the manager who I worked with at the first company, he had a big grin on his face even though he was usually unexpressive. Actually, he contacted me a half year ago but I was not sure whether I would be comfortable talking to him since I was the one who left the company. He became a CEO and asked me for a drawing to his personal motto. I brought a drawing to him and again, he had a big grin on his face. I finally felt “I was able to return the courtesy”.

I think your drawings are full of grace and passion which naturally make people smile. From your website, it seems like there are many art events for children. What aspect do you grow for children through these art events?

I am running these events with the goal of “provide a place to develop children’s imaginary skill and creativity through play”.

The first thing is to develop the ability to imagine so that children can imagine the mind of others and their own future.

The second thing is to develop creativity so that children can sympathize together. Moreover, it is the ability of considering what they have to do for others or think their action for their own future.

There are no correct answers in design or art. That is why it is important to accumulate considerable experience of imagination and fun in order to find our value and important things. All these actions are for the ability to live lithely.

There is other aim of not to forget their ability to imagine and creativity even after people become adults. It is just to enjoy the art at the event for now, but our agenda is to consider how to add more essence related to these two aims.

There is a theme of “live your life more yourself and happier” behind the character called “Unjour”, and my children will be happier if others become happy. Children easily get influence from external factors even though internal family education is fine.

All the human beings have different values. Therefore, bullying happens when there is something different from others. I hope that I can tell the basic of “everyone is different” through art. For example, the process of compliment, consent, and approving the difference with friends after finishing their art pieces is important. We all exist together with the people who have different values. The world is consisted with these different people. That is what I want children to experience.

When I see my children’s classrooms, I think children get constrained education in the present day. There must be more distinct individuality and free spirits, but teachers instruct children “Please color here with red”, which means following teacher’s order is a common practice without doubt. In the end, the same type of children is created. I hope schools involve some non-governmental enterprises which do something fun so that they have more options for the children to be able to expand their interests.

Schools should not be the option of attending or not attending. We should make a variety of learning places rather than schools for children.

What influence would you like to exert to the world through your art?

Basically expanding the chain of smile is the same. I hope everyone to feel happy and be confident to live their own way even a little step every day.

To support the people who have difficulty living every day, we created “Unjour” together with words series- it will be fine -, and some items and picture books for creating their own place.

This age is difficult to live for the people who do everything earnestly. I hope that I could impact on the children who are especially bullying, picked on, watching over bullying situation silently, in the difficult domestic circumstance, and also the adults surrounding these children.

“Unjour” was born with these thoughts. I would like to create some picture books along with songs in order to send a message through the live. I hope these people will be motivated to do something with courage. “Unjour d’enfance” means one of the days of childhood. I would like children and post-children to keep the mind of “gentle and honest feeling” which we all used to have when we were little. We have this feeling but somehow we all simply forget.

What is “design” for you?

Honestly speaking, there is no need for me to draw a picture I like or design cool image. I sincerely would like to design a cue or action to live easier and freely for the people who are tired, too earnest to live, or introversive and cannot find the way of expressing individuality. My happy ending is to create the world that everyone could live the way they want to. Therefore, drawings, words, and music are the media tools for everyone to remember the feeling of honesty and kindness.

What new project would you like to challenge in the future?

I would like to come off the things that I wanted to do like “Unjour”. Actually, I am working on the project called “promissory tree” which is the exciting tree like a Christmas tree and also you can hang with your promise visually. I would like to deliver this tree to schools, hospitals, and families. I think the strong wish will become reality. Therefore, this concept could be designed with a tree which has an effect of going easy on others through collecting wishes of many people. It will be best if I can make a chain that sad people bring back the energy to live and the people around them will be cheered up as well.


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