Shun Ishizuka never trained in graphic design. While studying literature at Tokyo’s Waseda University Shun started making flyers for his friends. Since this springboard into print, he’s worked in commercial design making paraphernalia such as cards, invitations and envelopes, and currently works as a freelance designer in the cultural sector. “Now I’m working with musicians, artists, curators and theatre companies”, Shun tells It’s Nice That. “I’m lucky that my clients are all interesting creatives. We collaborate very closely which means I’m free to work in an experimental way," tackling most of the supporting visuals for his client’s work.
For Shun, influence comes in the form of Western aesthetics such as Soviet propaganda posters, Freemasons’ secret symbols and graffiti. He merges these influences with Japan’s rich design context which results in culturally-rich material uniting European grid systems with Japanese type. “I like classic, traditional things but I’m also interested in futuristic stuff”, says Shun, “we need to respect the cultural past but also need to go forward.” In turn, his design mixes genres of graphic design and obscures the boundaries between aesthetic schools of thought, often considering how stories and motions are composed which then informs Shun’s design treatment.
“I think I have a strong style but I also struggle to define it," explains the designer. “Some people find it beautiful and others think it’s ugly. Love and hate. Balance and imbalance. When I’m designing, my emotions are ambivalent as I want to create variable meanings.” Predominantly working in poster design, Shun has been working with the Kyoto performance venue Soto for the past two years. A famously cultural city, Kyoto used to be Japan’s capital city, and Shun’s designs reflect the breadth of international artists that come from all over the world to perform at the venue.
Additionally, Shun often collaborates with the Japanese art-fashion label, Pugment. The creative duo behind Pugment make conceptual clothing as well exhibit artwork at their gallery in Tokyo and Shun recently designed a book showcasing its latest collection 1XXX–2018–2XXX. “The collection is about how people enjoy or manage the images of modern fashion trends in dystopian, future Japan”, explains Shun. The book’s design is “like a dictionary”, curating images of past fashion trends inside minded pages and printed on thin paper. The pages are sealed together but because the paper is so thin, the viewer can see the images of past trends through the pages. The book’s fore-edge (that’s the side of the book showing the edges of all pages) are covered with dates from past years which represent the layers of history that fashion transcends. Published internationally on Newfave and photographed by Kenta Cobayashi, the book’s thoughtful design frames Pugment’s striking images within a beautifully considered book.
About the Author
Jyni became a staff writer in March 2019 having previously joined the team as an editorial assistant in August 2018. She graduated from The Glasgow School of Art with a degree in Communication Design in 2017 and her previous roles include Glasgow Women’s Library designer in residence and The Glasgow School of Art’s Graduate Illustrator.