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All Access by Stefan Bucher

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Job no:81378-5 Title : RP_All Access (New PB Verdions) Client : Pro-vision
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H
ideki Nakajima was born in 1961, in the mostly agricultural Saitama region of Japan. The son of
a kimono tailor, he grew up in a home that was open to the arts where he quickly discovered
his love for drawing. An early visual influence came in the form of Ultraman, a 40-foot (12 m)-tall
silver robot in the mold of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, dressed in the brightly colored superhero fashions of
the day. Ultraman’s sleek, futuristic styling and metallic good looks became part of Nakajima’s aesthetic
foundation and a regular character in his drawings.
Nakajima continued honing his drafting skills throughout his teenage years, but a trip to the record store
soon turned him toward graphic design. He now describes it as the most dramatic event of his life,
a moment that changed his destiny. “When I was a teenager, I wanted to be an illustrator. But after seeing
the jacket of an OMD (Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark) LP, designed by Peter Saville, I changed
my mind and decided to be a graphic designer.”
100
PIECES OF ART IN ONE YEAR On entering the professional world, he immediately
felt its artistic constraints. “My twenties were the darkest period in my life.
During those ten years, I changed design companies seven times. Maybe I was very
arrogant. My first design company fired me after just three months. At that time, I had strong pride,
but that pride had no reason. In the real world, my ideal design was nothing. I didn’t know how
to persuade financial sponsors. Also, I didn’t have the skill to make my ideas real. Somehow I decided
to accept that reality and gradually came to think that I would be an art director after thirty, and that
my twenties were training time.”
Still, Nakajima was frustrated by the lack of freedom he found in his first jobs. He decided to find
another outlet rather than let himself be stifled. “I decided that I would make 100 original works
within a year, on my own time, which meant I had to make at least one piece every three days.
In those days, we had no computers that could make artwork easily, so I made a lot of silk screens.”
The resulting pieces show Nakajima’s admiration for Saville’s album covers and modernist typography
but move beyond mimicry in their subtle use of type, color, and photography.
1987 1997
93
NOW
HIDEKI 11
Finding his love for graphic design via Ultraman and the record sleeves
of Peter Saville, Hideki Nakajima has made a career of creating
subtly lavish and elegant designs that astound with every closer look.
NAKAJIMA
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Job no:81378-5 Title : RP_All Access (New PB Verdions) Client : Pro-vision
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175 Size : 203.2(w)254(h)mm Co : M6 (mac J)
Dept : DTP D/O : 22.10.05 (Job no:000000 D/O : 00.00.04 Co: CM0)
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Included in this period of exploration are the first of what
Nakajima calls his “typographies,” three-dimensional
typographic collages. “I started making typographies
in 1987. I was just looking for something new but didn’t
think this could work well. Then I became the art director
for Cut magazine and started making them again.
This time I found great possibilities in this direction.”
The 100 pieces led Nakajima to a job with Masami
Shimizu, a man he admired and who would soon
become his mentor. “I tried to be the ultimate assistant
for him. I tried to do enjoyable works as much as
I could, though I knew those works were beyond my
capacity. I was working all night, every night, and
Composit, spread A 1993 spread for Composit
magazine shows an early example of Nakajima’s flair
for using typography as illustration.
Japan, magazine cover While fairly conservative
overall, the use of the small red 3 demonstrates
that Nakajima treated type and photography not as
separate layers, but as one continuous space.
H, magazine cover Already more free-
wheeling than the year before, Nakajima
amps up this cover for H with bold type
that accentuates the dramatic photograph.
1987
1993
32
1994
33
1995
34
I WAS WORKING
ALL NIGHT, EVERY NIGHT,
AND NEVER CAME HOME.
THOSE THREE YEARS
WERE THE HARDEST
OF MY LIFE.
BUT I THINK THOSE INTENSE DAYS
WERE VERY IMPORTANT
AND MADE ME WHO I AM NOW.”
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