Ryuto Miyake Studio Tour

We headed out of the centre of Tokyo on a rainy Monday evening to the home of illustrator Ryuto Miyake. A member of the prestigious Tokyo Illustrators Society and a regular contributor to one of Japans leading fashion publications Popeye we speak with Ryuto about his work past & present, life as a creative in one of the world’s busiest cities and, of course, his pet bird Diane…

Good evening Ryuto, how’re you?

Good evening! I’m almost done with this hot and humid weather in Tokyo...


What are your earliest memories with illustration and drawing?

I was big into drawing on Kid Pix in my childhood. I really liked the sound effects and the “bomb” tool. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TayProAkmBE


Your work has an amazing level of intricacy and life like detail, how long do you spend working on a project to achieve this?

It depends on the size the client needs. Unfortunately, deadlines are too short to make illustrations high quality these days so it’s important that I keep enough time aside for each project.

To be specific about the time I spend for each drawing, it can take anything from 5 – 10 hours to finish the colouring process after my first rough draft.

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 There’s a range of styles and materials in your work, from gouache to coloured pencils and ink. Is there a medium which you enjoy working with more than others?

I like gouache the best, however its really important for me to use other tools found elsewhere such as graphic design to help refresh my hand and brain!


A predominant theme within your personal work seems to be a big interest in flora and fauna, be that fruit, plants or wild birds. What is it that draws you to these things?

When I was studying graphic design and looking for inspirations, I was really fascinated by old (but not expensive) field guide books filled with illustrations of nature; things like birds and plants. They were printed in bad quality, blurry and dull, but they made me want to make illustrations that have similar atmospheres to them. That was the start.


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Outside of your personal work you have been involved with a multitude of freelance projects, which of these are you most proud of?

I cant choose one but Im enjoying collaborating with a Japanese music label named FLAU. Weve been working together for over 6 years and its always exiting to make something for musicians all over the world through the label. I also really appreciate that they let me try many different styles.

You’re also a regular contributor to the famed Japanese publication Popeye, tell us a little about your relationship with Popeye and how this began?

When I was an art college student I got to know a designer at an event that was held at a gallery in Shibuya where I was working as an intern. 

Later he invited me to the magazine as an illustrator when he became the art director, that’s the reason I started working for them. At the time I didn’t have concrete styles of illustration so the team of the magazine acted as a kind of teacher of illustration for me.

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Ryuto Miyake Studio Tour

Tell us a little about your work space, where is it and what do you have here that helps you in the creative process?

It’s located in the west side of the center of Tokyo. The building is designed to pay homage to the artists who lived and had ateliers around here in 1930s, so it has atelier spaces for each of the rooms. I loved this concept, that’s the reason I chose the this working space.

To make my space more comfortable, I’m collecting plants. They help me with drawing nature like things and I find the time watering them is very relaxing. 

I also have a birdie named Diane (I didn’t know his sex when I named him). We are always working together at the atelier; his main job is modelling for my illustrations.


What do you find are the benefits and disadvantages of being a creative in Tokyo?

I think people here are sensitive to the latest trends and are very good at collecting new and impressive things from all over the world. That makes this city fresh and full of inspirations, I think it’s good characteristic of Tokyo.

However, it might be difficult to find space to relax in this city. Tokyo is always crowded with people, which make me want to escape from the city sometimes.


Where would you like to see your work progress to in the future?

I’m always looking for good collaborators regardless of genres.

I’m making textile design with a fashion designer now and by collaborating with him I can find new possibilities for my illustrations. I want something like this to happen more in the future to keep my feeling fresh!

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Thanks for speaking with us Ryuto!