1) We interviewed Tsuneharu Naka from AD ARTS, who designed the MEGAMI INK Calendar.

 What kind of work do you usually do ? -

Usually, I draw up various designs for printed matter, such as posters and packages. Recently, I’ve been making lots of printed matter using special inks.

 Can you tell us about some major products you have made ?

I took my first odd job about 30 years ago, in which I had to represent a timed exposure of Hakodate in a poster for the Tourist Association. You see, when raindrops fall on the glass windows, the scene you see through the window is distorted. Making the plate for such representation was extremely difficult in those days. Now, you can make it simply by using Mac.

During that time, I hit on an idea and asked the printing office to printout a sample with that method, but the result was terrible. After that incident, I decided to “do things my way”, and started to study more about printing.

After going through this trial and error process, the client wasn’t satisfied and told me to “redo it because it looked crooked.” Well, that suited me because it “was” crooked (laugh). The next day was the deadline for the poster contest and we entered the contest with the poster the way it was because we didn’t have time to fix it. You want to hear the result? We won the “Award of the Minister of Transport.”

 So you weren’t satisfied with printing techniques in those days?

Looking back, I have tried traditional printing methods, yet I never felt any dissatisfaction  towards them.  What I wanted to represent was the most important matter to me.  This is why I went to find the small pouches of old Japan which I believe suit the pearlescent ink for making this MEGAMI INK calendar.

What I’m doing may be considered strange in other fellow designers’ eyes, but it’s natural to be inclined to make the best thing, right?  Even so, I do consider my pickiness to be a little abnormal myself.

 What is the merit for being picky?

For example, I have brought models to the customers in order for them to feel the texture and atmosphere better.  Normally, just presenting your ideas by providing written materials is enough.  At that time I was competing with major agents, but the client bought my idea and placed an order on the spot.  I believe that result came from being picky.

The reason why I have been so picky is that there are no ready-made products which perfectly meet all customers’ needs.  So I came to the conclusion that I should make everything myself including the designs.

 What do you focus on when you’re designing?

Basically, I study designing through self-education.  Although I went to a technical college, there weren’t any teachers in the field I wanted to study.  I figure the trial and error in such an environment made me want to do things differently. A designer’s job is to send messages to people through designs, right?  If that is the case, it’ll be impossible if your viewpoint is the same as those of ordinary people.  This is why I always think thoroughly about to whom and how my messages should be sent.

It’s hard to make products that really sell just by investigating the market. In the era of Small-lot production with Multi-models, no one will even take a look at your products if the packaging is too simple.

I think of designers as chefs.  Ink factories produce inks, and paper factories make paper.  It’s up to the designers to “cook” them up. Also, I think it’s important to be curious towards everything.

 What gave you the chance to design this calendar?

刷り見本It all started in February last year, when MEGAMI INK brought a horribly dirty printed sample to me (laugh).  I thought, “Man, this is bad.”  So I started by fixing the printed sample.

The ink we used for this calendar was made by lots of trial and error done together by the both of us, while making this printed sample folded in three.  We did ask other makers once, but they couldn’t do it.

 In that case, what have you been paying attention to when making the calendar ?

MEGAMI INK is an ink factory better known in foreign countries than in Japan.

カレンダーSo I started with looking for a pattern that will be accepted in other countries.  Also, since we were going to use pearlescent ink, there had to be parts that shine and don’t shine.  Due to such reasons, we chose the small pouches from the old Japan period.

Frankly speaking, if we just want other countries to accept our product, we can simply just use famous foreign pictures or other normal designs such as Japanese castles.  But we didn’t want MEGAMI INK to be any ordinary company.  Ordinary companies wouldn’t allow us to use the photo of the small pouches we chose, anyway.

Finally, Japan used to have many things that we took pride in presenting to foreign countries, but I personally felt that such things were disappearing.  So I made something we can be proud of to present to other countries.

 What is unique about this calendar?

There are four different colors printed on top of the pearlescent-painted base.

To be honest, we knew beforehand that colors won’t show when printed on top of a pearlescent base.  But we thought that if we painted the pearlescent color as the background, and then printed on top of it, the light between the inks printed on top will slightly burst and make it look like it is shining.  By doing so, there is a chance that we can make it look different than painting the pearlescent color after printing, and we wanted to bring out such an effect.

It might have been impossible with ordinary ink, but the combination of MEGAMI INK’s pearlescent color and quadric-color process ink made the idea possible. Also, painting the pearlescent color as the background and printing four different colors on top of it was the first challenge ever for printing companies.

 Finally, any last words?

Every job has the three “nevers”: never done it before, never have time, never have money. Yet a job is more fun when it meets these factors. Because of these, the job of making this calendar was extremely fun. May I stress that MEGAMI INK has arranged a very good payment (laugh). Since we still have a lot of different ideas, we wish to try it some other time. Finally, we hope that customers will not only look at the printing of this calendar, but also read the explanations printed in the corners.

-Thank you very much for your cooperation. -

 Special Thanks To:

AD ARTS Co., Ltd., Web : http://www.adarts.jp/
9-23 Ichiban-Chou, Chiyoda-Ku, Ichibanchou Bldg. 5F, Tokyo  102-0082  Japan
tel. 03-5275-3001


Megami Ink Mfg. Co., Ltd.,   Web: http://www.megamiink.com/en

3-1, Ueno 1 Chome, Taito-Ku, Tokyo 110-0005  Japan
tel. 03-3802-4111
For those who wish to see various print samples with special inks, please contact us through the inquiry link.