"The Big Three"
Wakako Katayama, Yoko Tanji and Icco Sasai. "The big three."
According to Tadahiro Uesugi. We met three grand artists on the night of the Japan Sketchcrawl. Friends of Tadahiro, illustrators he knows and whose work he raves about. Wakako Katayama, Yoko Tanji, Icco Sasai were seated at the opposite end of the table from me and it took the better part of the dinner before I moved over to them to attempt to interview them.
Yoko Tanji had joined us for the Sketchcrawl day and I managed to see her drawing book. It was amazing. Simplicity in design but powerful images. Truly accomplished designer, she is. She is working very hard these days and I think we tired her out, the evening stretching to near midnight. She and her husband run a "small" studio--they are modest when they describe their ventures as a general rule.
Icco Sasai. Before this evening I had raved to Uesugi about "Ico," a Playstation game I adore. He had given the heads up that someone who did designs on the game was going to show up. Icco, aka Nanako Ohmura, was very shy, she ducked behind Yoko each time I took a photo and when she couldn't escape that she looked down. Later we did manage to exchage a few conversational Q & A (through Kuro and Enrico's translations), me needling her about her work on the game. She eventually drew a diagram of the castle from the game that she was responsible for--the main doorways and either wing that held puzzles and the hall leading to the tower as well as the tower itself that held the elven princess in a suspended cage. I was so glad she drew this for me and I keep it in my sketchbook.
Wakako Katayama was very engaging. Even though we had no language in common to communicate with the attempts were apparently very funny. Everyone was laughing throughout as we both struggled to say the simplest of things to each other. Tadahiro at one point was laughing hard and wiping tears from his eyes. Wakako tried to teach me some words in Japanese ("Kawaii" means pretty. A girl word that I cannot use)and we drew diagrams of Japan showing where she and everyone was from. I had a grand time talking to her and from the looks of it, so was everyone else.
Wakako Katayama, Yoko Tanji and Icco Sasai. I flipped this picture so you can line up artist to artwork. Ain't I clever?.
Tadahiro was not kidding. These ladies are indeed "The Big Three." Check out the links to their sites. I had downloaded images from Yoko and Nanako years ago not ever thinking that I'll ever meet their authors. It was quite the honor to meet all three.