How to describe Ken Taya's work? Curious, detail-oriented, compelling, and playful. We've known Ken since 2007, when we first showed his prints. He did a lot of the artwork for the Blue C Sushi restaurants (where John Nakatsu met him) and later did the shopping bags for Uwajimaya. More of his artwork can be seen throughout Japantown Seattle.
Here is our interview with Ken. View his prints here.
KOBO: Where are you from and what do you do?
Ken: Born in Chicago, lived in Delaware, Seattle, Sendai, and SF, I consider myself from Seattle. I work in the video game industry for the past 20 years, mainly my discipline is grounded in art adjacent roles.
KOBO: What is your connection to Japantown?
Ken: Kobo has been one of the galleries that has featured my work, and with the support of the Japantown businesses I've had the most amazing opportunities to collaborate with them.
KOBO: Who are your biggest artistic influences?
Ken: I would say it began with Toriyama Akira, but then moved on to Mitsuru Nakamura (326) and Taiyo Matsumoto. I would say it started there and then I just began admiring and allowed myself to be inspired by many artists.
KOBO: What inspired you to pursue a career in illustration?
Ken: Well I'd say only a part of me is an illustrator, I'd say more of my career is in video games. But it's easy to say that what impresses on you as a child is powerful, and games did that for me.
KOBO: How do you spend your free time?
Ken: These days I love to go to the gym, and ride my motorcycle. I dabble in pursuing other hobbies that provide no capitalistic benefit, but more for my mental and personal well being.
KOBO: What advice would you give to an illustration/design student?
Ken: The single most important piece of advice I can give anyone pursuing anything related to design is this.
Describe why you like something. I want you to tell me about what brings you joy, and if you can do that well, you can convince anyone of the value you may bring. But the key to this whole piece of advice is...if you can do it well. It will require you to be able to synthesize your observations into precise words, if this is verbal you would be able to tell if something was rehearsed or if it was truly thought about deeply. Can your opinions on a subject/topic be convincing enough to yourself but also your audience? How you do this will reveal to everyone your ability to curate your words and your tastes. Putting a finger on your reasoning behind your assessments of something reveal so much about your understanding and capabilities. Describe why you like something.
KOBO: What are a couple of your bucket list items?
Ken: This is a good question, I'm living in the present and doing what I'm wanting to do right now.
Seattle Channel made a video about Ken: