Interview: Keitaro Suzuki

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Name: Keitaro Suzuki

Where do you live: Tokyo, Japan

Known for: Art Director/Designer, Awwwards Jury (2013-Present), CSS Design Awards Jury (2014-Present)

Currently working with: Working as Art Director/Designer at SHIFTBRAIN Inc.

When did you realize that you were going to work with this/in this area?
I was in my Junior year in a university when I got interested in design from a “branding” class that I took. Since then, I started learning graphic design from an art school and later realized that I enjoy designing, and thought of making a living out of it.

If you could choose one place only to live, where would that be and why?
I’ve visited a lot of places around the world, and I always thought that living there is a good idea. However, if I have to select one place, it has to be Japan. Mainly because it’s my home country and it’s where my family and friends live.

How would you describe your creativity?
My creativity changes from time to time. Focusing on branding, I try to express the client’s personality or image, and address the problem by mixing creative ideas, design, and technology.

How and when did you start to work with this in a serious manner?
I began working in the design industry when I was in my senior year in university after I finished attending art school. I continued to create private works in web and graphic designing and also movies. Fortunately, I was offered various design works from several clients and worked as a freelancer.

What do you do at the moment?
I’m working with various clients at the same time. Now, I’m making a mobile website which can control 360°videos using Gyro sensor.

A recommendation for those who think about starting and running a creative business?
I suggest they try to see as many great works as possible, and try to familiarize the feeling you get when you see those works. I think those impressions help you develop originality to your work.

Tell us how it all started.
My grandfather is a painter and I often draw pictures with him when I was a child. I really like to draw, but I’ve never thought of becoming a designer because I thought being a designer is the same as being an artist. However, when I was in the University, I realized that I liked designing and solving problems through a creative idea. That’s where it all started.

What is the most important thing in a workplace/studio for you?
Although, the Interior design is one of the important things, the location for me is the most vital. I need to feel natural so I can stimulate an idea from the environment itself.

What is your favorite film?
Trainspotting and Star wars. Trainspotting’s message was “Choose your future, choose life”, and it has changed my way of life since.On the other hand, I have loved Star wars back when I was a child until now. The film excites people of all ages.

Who would you like to invite for a dinner and why?
Ooki Sato. He is a famous Product Designer at Nendo, and he designs everything. He creates all sorts of things and always have the greatest ideas. Now that I’m most interested in Product Design, I would like to talk to Sato-san and hopefully learn from the way he thinks about design.

Mamoru Kano too. He is an Art Director at WOW. Wow is a visual design studio, which is mostly known for Installation, Motion Graphics, and Development. He is knowledgeable both in designing and programming, which he combines in creating his works. I am also interested in creative coding, so I would want to learn the techniques of combining design and programming from Kano-san.

Joichi Ito. He is named as Director of MIT Media Lab. I like the way he talks and thinks about Innovation, and so I want to ask him about the next innovation of Humans and Technology.

George Lucas, Cublic Stanley and David Lynch. I like their movies, and so I want to know how they created such great works.

How do you like to spoil yourself?
Watching movies and reading books while drinking.

What is luxury for you?
Spending time in the beach all day!

What is the nicest compliment you’ve received for your creative work, and from whom?
I can’t choose one specific compliment, but I’m always glad to hear compliments from our clients.

What do you fear most?
I fear deadline 🙁

What is a happy life to you?
I want to live happily with my family and friends, while having a good work-life balance. I also want to travel the world.

What does a regular day look like for you?
I get up at 8:30, say “Good Morning” to my family, and have breakfast. After which, I check my Social Media Accounts mainly Twitter, Instagram, and Feedly. I also study English and read a book in the train on my way to the office. It takes around 20-30 minutes.

I work from 10:00 to around 21:00. Everyday, I design, go to meetings, and present my ideas to our clients and bosses.

I eat my dinner at around 22:00, and then I watch TV or movies, read books, and study.

I go to bed at around 24:00.

Tell us about your dream project.
In the future, I want to make digital products which people can use in the real world.

Who is your professional role model/inspiration?
I don’t specifically have a role model. Although, I always get inspiration from different designers and artists.

How would you describe your work style (academic field or fashion style, or both, or something entirely different)?
When I have a project, I start by deciding a simple design concept to clarify the role and purpose of the content, while considering the brand image and target.

After formulating the design concept, I start collecting the visual elements based on the concept through different instruments like Mood boards.

These concepts and elements are then shared among the other designers, developers, and creative members, and we create the website.

Then, I formulate a wireframe considering the design concept and what UI would work best with it.

Which is the one thing you can’t live without?
The one thing I’m passionate about.

What inspires you?
Everything I feel.

I get many creative sources in Feedly from something that inspires me.

A book that has changed/made the most impression in your life?
I read “Today’s Art” written by Taro Okamoto when I was in the University. It does not only talk about Art, but also about attitude towards creation. After reading the book, I was inspired to create something by myself. It has given me the courage to take a step away from my ambivalence.

Connect with Keitaro via Twitter @ktrszk & Instagram @ktrszk @ & LinkedIn
Check out his website

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