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TerepaInterview44:Young girls and animals in a fairytale! Interview with Japanese illustrator tono!


Artist Name:tono





■Art Gallery

―― Firstly, please introduce yourself!

Hello, I'm tono and I focus on originality paint in Japan. I often depict characters such as crocodiles, cats and young girls live in a fairy tale world. Usually work on music covers, concept art for lolita-style clothing or texture illustration, also done the illustrations for novel cover.

―― When did you start learning drawing? Did you go to an art school?

I learned the basics skill such as sketch at a cram school when I apply for Art University, I also learned clay and graphic composition for about two years.

It’s first time I was commented by the teacher among many students who were good at drawing, and I found it was a high sensibility into my work. After that I studied design at vocational school, there were many lectures in addition to homework. Although I didn’t improve my drawing skills that much, maybe it’s my interested in a relatively small range at the time, but I was able to study a wide range of art and design.

―― Could you tell the story about changing your painting style?

I became aware of my style in my branding class at design school, thought about how I could change my work to illustration and differentiate it from other works, to better convey the appeal of my work. I wanted to draw illustration with storytelling, and I placed a lot of emphasis on my 'like'.

I initially tried to get in touch with different kinds of works and photographs in order to capture this sense of 'like', apart those works as like or dislike, then filtering the works that I wanted to approach or I didn't feel so strongly. Next step mix them with my 'favourite elements' into my own work, that’s how I develop my style.

―― How do you usually gather inspiration? Tell us about your favourite themes and why!

I keep charge inspiration through favourite theme relate photos and drawings, also I record or sketch ideas if I meet something interesting before I forget them, and it's a good reminder to revisit them when you're stuck in an idea.

Although my favourite subjects always change, but my love to fairy-tale is forever. I love fantasy worlds, and really exciting where I see monsters that I've never seen before, or any world view that can talk to animals.

I often buy Illustration books and merchs, sometime visit exhibitions of my favourite authors. Recently, I went to the Alice exhibition. Although there was packed with people, I saw many things are quite nice such as photographs by Lewis Carroll and woodblock prints by John Tenniel.

―― Does all characters share the same worldview in your work? Would you like tell us about their backgrounds and how they connect to each other?

Yes, I always want to create stories, and imagine meme or characters according to.

I started drawing the combination of animal and girl was after watching the movie“Pan's Labyrinth”and being inspired by the goat and girl into the movie. After that, I thought of a character that might appear with them, so black kitten was born. However they were all black characters and I wanted to draw colour illustrations, therefore as my preferred animals crocodile and fox appeared into my story. I think it's probably because I prefer animals that give a darker impression.

―― Your Illustration filled with stories moods, would you consider completing it as a story book in the future?

I've been thinking about theme of completely story for a long time, It's the main goal that I definitely achieve one day. Currently, existing things such as characters and their surrounding scenery have been finalized.

Right now, I'm slow working on the third part of LINE stickers (it's similar to WeChat emoticons) as a way for practicing character's face expressions and action poses.

I'm gradually writing down the story and relate settings I've come up with. it's a long process but I will continue to add details to the characters, characters will come to life in the process. I realize if I keep develop a short story that it will become complete story.

―― Who are the artists and works that have inspired you? Or please tell us about your favorite artists.

Beatrix Potter who created "Peter Rabbit", Lewis Carroll's " Alice's Adventures in Wonderland", Mitchell Ender's "The Never Ending Story", painters Van Gogh, Monet, John Singer Sargent, illustrator Walter Crane , photographer Tim Walker.

―― What are you favourite comics, games, and film? Is there a reason to like them?

Recently I hit by“Chainsaw Man”, it’s really popular I wanted to know the reason why people like that, while I read it and was totally hooked, I like characters and demons in manga. The manga content is really awesome based in reality but not quite reality .

I don't have a console at home because my mother hates games. If I wanted to play a game I would play on my computer secretly. The art of“Final Fantasy XIV”is excellent even I just looking at the screenshots while walking around can be enjoyable, that's what i like about it.

As I mentioned earlier,“Pan's Labyrinth”was an inspiring film for me to "depicting a group of girls and animal". Monsters world and fairy tales it’s very personal and beautiful, even though I don't like horror film like“The Shining”, but the movie scene and performances are creepily beautiful, actors performance also breathtaking.

The anime character "Cheburashka" is also very cute. I was inspired by "Cheburashka" to create my crocodile character in my work.

Recently I just revisited“The Wizard of Oz”and felt nostalgic, I always watched that over and over again on my childhood, because I really like it.

―― Your collection book is also available in China! How do you feel about this?

I'm very happy that my illustration book has been translated and published in China.

The published work is illustration book“Halfmoon tono”(KADOKAWA Future Publishing), For Chinese version is BanYueZhiYinDianChuHuaJi (Jilin Meishu Press).

When I actually received the sample, I was surprised to find that the Chinese version came with a rich variety of merchs such as posters and bags! Since illustration books published in Japan are basically have no giveaway, so I felt Chinese version is very luxurious.

Although this book doesn't contain the cat characters I often draw now, I can feel the change in my own creative style in this collection from 2 years ago.

―― When working with overseas clients, did you find difficult to communicate with them or did you have different ideas? How did you resolve it?

When communicating with overseas clients, I do an automatic translation while checking that I understand the language sense if it's simple English. If I felt difficult to understand, I will try rhetorical questions to get the person to communicate in a simple way.

However, sometimes communication is get stuck when facing Chinese, I feel helpless about whether each side understands the others, even with translation machine. So if it's communication with Chinese clients, I will entrust someone who is proficient in Chinese.

―― Would you mind tell us about your greatest achievements and experiences in working with overseas clients?

When communication is unstable with overseas clients in early stage of project, I feel uneasy about whether the work can be completed successfully, but the good thing is that most people I deal with are really kindly, it turns out to be good after trying, which is my experience with English-speaking clients. For Chinese clients, basically I entrust an agent to be in charge of communication.

―― You have done a lot of commercial work, is there anything "I want to challenge this" or "I want to create work in this form for commercial purposes!" you would like to do in the future?

So far I've been involved in commercial collaborations such as book illustrations, illustration merch, illustration for music videos, Lolita-style clothing pattern and illustration portfolios, etc...I've achieved everything I wanted to do and I'm content with that.

Once I provided illustrations for a Lolita style brand in China, they make fox dolls as well as clothes based on my illustrations, I guess people will be surprise to see my OC fox! But I think everything is about fate include commercial, I'm gonna to enrich my work first!

―― Thank you for to be interviewed, is there any words you like to say to your audience or other creators?

Thank you to all the readers who have met me for the first time, and thank you to all the supporters who have always been there for me, there is nothing enjoyable more than everyone like my work. Although I hardly ever reply, your comments always give me strength, that become my create motivation. and I hope to give back through even better work in the future.


For tono latest works and commercialization plans will be announced on Hobby Terepa. Please stay tuned!

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