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Katsumi Komagata leading a workshop

Contemplative interview with Katsumi Komagata

Katsumi Komagata is a Japanese artist, who publishes pop-up books for children. As part of the mobility programme, he went to the ELCAF 2016 in London to lead a workshop.

Can you present briefly the beginning of your carreer as a graphic designer?

When I was 10 years old, I had trouble to draw pictures and my teacher thought I was a colour-blind person. So I had a lot of tests but I was fine though. But since that, I had a sort of complex with the colours, so that’s why I became a graphic designer, to get over myself. I started working out in Tokyo, Japan where I worked for a design production studio. Then, I moved to the United States and I worked for CBS and some packaging design studios, that was more than 30 years ago. Then I returned back to Japan, I got married and had my own child. When she was 3 months old, I wanted to share something with her. I came up with a lot of cards, which were published as the Little Eyes series. And since that I started out making books for children.

What are your favourite drawing techniques?

I really like working with paper, because paper has a sort of a texture, not only as a printed object itself, but also we can work with the texture of the paper. It’s a very small detail, but if you touch it, even such a small detail can inspire deeply. That’s why I really wanted to work with paper, not only use it as a flat object but also to fold it or make cards, try to have other uses.

Can you describe one of your projects Little Tree?

Usually, pop-up books are very "loud", which is fun to watch big things. But then I thought, why not to have very quiet pop-up books? So I came up with Little Tree. In the book, small things are coming up and then growing and changing the colours. It’s very quiet because we don’t have to speak loudly, when we speak quietly, people pay attention and that case, people became more deeply involved in the reading and understanding, and looking at that and touching that. I tried to make a quiet and settled pop-up book.

What do you think of digital media for children?

Well, I am interested in digital media because I work a lot with computers. But for me, it’s very important to tell the children that things are very fragile, that’s why we really have to care about it and treat it very gently. And as human beings, we are fragile. Children must learn about the fragile things. Facing the paper, we have the opportunity to tell them this point. But if you try to handle digital media and digital devices, it’s very hard. I think that the idea we could come up such as a sensitive thing, then children may learn to care about things. If they play it again and again, it doesn’t make sense to me, the things are not like that. So I would like that digital media become more sensitive and I really would like to try to create with digital media in this way.