For Tokyo-based illustrator Shohei Otomo (aka Hakuchi), the famous cliché is very à propos – the pen is indeed mightier than the sword. His body of work is primarily created using only fine ballpoint pen, working meticulously line-by-line. What was once a cost-effective practice is now a trademark style, often depicting what are known as “furyo”, or Japanese delinquents in both typical Manga and traditional style, and flavoured with somewhat vulgar, sexual and violent elements. I love that his work is bold and simple, which is what makes it so striking and dramatic.
Having originally studied oil painting at the university level, he’s cast aside all semblance of complication in his works. Using only black, white and red as his palette (much like the traditional makeup of the geisha), the subject matter he often plays with includes images derived from anime, punk, geisha, samurai culture and youth stereotypes. With these paradigms in mind, and a strong sense of dark humour, he uncovers the reality behind the commercial and subcultures of the urban world. Though his style seems so effortless, his work takes quite a bit of time and patience – as he painstakingly renders each drawing with fine detail and well-honed technique, physically juxtaposing the traditional Japanese intuitive way of creation and the Western logical perspective. In that sense, East truly meets West both in his imagery and execution.
And a little bit of trivia for you – Shohei is also the son of Katsuhiro Otomo, the globally famous Manga artist who was behind the creation of “Akira”.
Visit his website to check out more (hope you can read Japanese!).