It’s so cliche but I think just living life, honestly, especially with design. If you’re out in the world, and you see things...something that catches your eye, you might not log it right away as something you want to try but it’ll come out somewhere down the line. And just living leads you to learning about new things; new cultures, new people, new artists...whatever. And I find that always influences your work later on.What does creative freedom mean to you?
I think creative freedom means, like, if it’s a commission or coming from a client or something, that means they trust you to do whatever you want, and that whatever you come up with will be great. It means there’s a sense of trust, you know? It can also mean there’s literal freedom, there’s no rules to define how you need to make the image, or project, or whatever.
“I want to be in
the studio as long
Yeah, it does feel good. I don’t know some of them very well personally, so I don’t know if maybe they want more parameters. But when I approached them, my co-editor and I, we told all the contributors you can have as much or as little freedom as you want with this. Whatever will help you communicate your ideas the best—we’re down to support. So some people were like, “Well how many pages do you want us to write? What’s the word count?” And we’re just like, whatever you need, honestly. Because we don’t want to limit people, again, unless they really need it...like if that will help them creatively.Talk about that for a moment—being on your feet so the interactions are more personal.
I mean honestly, I love doing the book fairs because it gives me a chance to interact with people. You know, especially when you’re a designer, you often don’t get to see people’s reactions to your work. Once it’s out there, a lot of the time, you have no idea if anyone was happy about it or if they even noticed what you worked so hard on. So it’s nice with the books because there is that confirmation of appreciation. Because people will literally be like, “Oh, this is so cool.” Or, “I really like this, can you tell me more about this…” So that’s why I end up not sitting a lot. I just get really excited, so I need to stand up and show them, or talk to them. And then sometimes if they want to have a longer conversation, it’s just easier to pull them to the side of the table and just stand there together like friends do and just talk.One of my favorite moments in the creative process is the breakthrough can you explain that a little for you?
Yeah, I think I try to figure out my path to it beforehand. I think you have to learn to trust your instinct, too, because sometimes it’s just a feeling, and it’s not anything concrete besides that.
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Usually there’s a sense of pride, initially, and then my critic comes out and I start looking at it and seeing what I should’ve done differently, or what I could’ve done differently, or how the printing didn’t turn out right...I tend to nit-pick. But then that all melts away if we’re doing an event, or like, doing a book fair, and someone sees it or really connects with it, and wants to buy it—that still blows my mind—that someone is willing to drop money on something I made. It’s crazy. And then if they flip through it, especially with the hair one, there have been people like, Oh my God, I need to get this for my brother. Or my boyfriend, or my sister. That’s always really cool when people can connect with something we made.
Generally, I do the layout for each book.
The last book we made was strictly Devin’s stuff. I’m trying to think of something more recent that was more collaborative. I made a zine about asian people with curly hair that was all my concept and stuff. The idea came from the realization that as I got older, I stopped having so much anxiety about my hair, because when I was growing up, I hit puberty and my hair got really wavy and kinky in some parts, and I didn’t know how to take care of it. And whatever Internet information I could find, it all applied to hair that was extra, extra curly, like black people’s hair. I tried some of that advice and it never really worked out for me. It was just really frustrating because asian hair can be really particular. My particular head, there are really thin hairs and thick hairs—and I have a lot of it—so I couldn’t find any information. And I didn’t know if maybe our hair is different from other hair, I don’t know? So it just got me thinking, there has to be other asian people who have hair like this. My dad has hair like this, you know? I’ve seen photos of him from the seventies and he had an afro and it wasn’t permed, it was just long and he brushed it out a little bit. And I’ve seen photos of people from Japan who have hair texture that looks a lot like mine. So I was just curious. I wanted to know how other people of my ethnicity or race—with the same texture—how they felt. So I went on Instagram and just found people and interviewed them. For the most part, all of us had the same experiences. Most of us started off hating it and then got older and grew into acceptance. Some of us love our hair and some of us are just neutral. I think I’m in more neutral territory now.
Yuri Ogita is a multidisciplinary graphic designer and occasional illustrator. She and her partner live and work in Los Angeles with their two corgis, where they make art books and editions together as Coloured Publishing.
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