Designed to entertain: Meet Trampoline and her awe-inspiring illustrations combining comics, music and pop characters

The Japanese illustrator talks us through her creative journey to date and how all her experiences thus far merge to influence her bold and daring visual practice.

1 October 2021


The Tokyo-based artist known as Trampoline has a rather distinct way of producing her images. Unlike a lot of illustrators, she doesn’t observe things intentionally. Instead, she discovers her pictorial ideas through notations. “I write down words that interest me,” she tells It’s Nice That, and from these words, she constructs intuitive images. She lists these words “in a line or so,” and whatever sentences arise, Trampoline crafts out a simple image. This is how she creates her colourful and chaotic works full of dramatic intensity and original character. The overall composition is decided by the words and once this is determined, smaller details are incorporated into the mix. In turn, adds Trampoline, “the completed drawing is unknown until the end.”

The visualisation of words only comes to Trampoline once she is in the process of drawing. As she puts pencil to paper, the concrete visuals pour out and, along the way, she fixes colour to the various shapes and characters too. For her latest work – a series of illustrations forming a solo show in Tokyo in March and August next year – Trampoline has made use of the handy Risograph printer, a medium that further elevates the texture and boldness of her vivid, comics-like illustrations.

All 24 pieces were printed using the Risograph; a pointed turn from the illustrator’s previous works which were clear cut from the blockiness of digitisation. Echoes of Japanese city pop, rock music and popular songs seep into the lyrical nature of the work. She also looks to domestic and foreign alternative comics and animated shorts to inform her quirky illustrations. But most of all, Trampoline is most inspired by her three-year-old son and his chaotic energy; an energy which she masterfully translates through still illustration using an abundance of tones, points of view, funny characters and cheery aesthetics.


Trampoline: Eden (Copyright © Trampoline, 2021)

Born and raised in Kyoto, Trampoline has always loved drawing and painting. She remembers doodling at her grandparents’ house almost every day from the tender age of five. “I drew so many that my grandparents prepared a small piece of ten-centimetre-squared paper which I could use for the back of my drawings.” From there, her imagination spiralled and the young Trampoline absorbed herself in the depiction of all beings from animal to mineral. The walls of her grandparents’ home were filled with her works, and over time, she began to experiment with different media, including her father’s computer where she first discovered digital illustration.

As Trampoline got older, she started to draw less, while her interest in visual design and culture grew. She went on to study typography at Kyoto University of the Arts and as the years unfolded, she explains, “I gradually began to feel unsatisfied with my college life, I realised that my knowledge was narrow and made up of unexperienced affairs.” Just like that, Trampoline decided to quit university at the age of 19. She went on to work in various businesses, getting to know a wide variety of people, in turn, all of whom have had a great impact on her life and work to this day.

After her son was born, the illustrator found a new lease of life within her work. “I rediscovered the interest in expressing my daily life and resumed production,” she adds. Bringing us into the present, we now see Trampoline as a fully formed artist: an illustrator and a mother, creating some of her most exciting work to date. Mixing a combination of light and dark impressions with pop-style characters and a hint of childlike playfulness, these fascinating images embody Trampoline’s wealth of experience. Although there is no overriding message underlining her bold works, Trampoline finally goes on to say: “There is certainly a desire to entertain.”


Trampoline: Robot and dog (Copyright © Trampoline, 2021)


Trampoline: My things (Copyright © Trampoline, 2021)


Trampoline: Maneki cat (Copyright © Trampoline, 2021)


Trampoline: Gravity bear (Copyright © Trampoline, 2021)


Trampoline: Tulpa (Copyright © Trampoline, 2021)


Trampoline: Family photo (Copyright © Trampoline, 2021)


Trampoline: Devil in the drawer (Copyright © Trampoline, 2021)

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Trampoline: Mirror in me (Copyright © Trampoline, 2021)

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About the Author

Jyni Ong

Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor.

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