An Interview with Kouhei Nakama
June 24, 2021
Have you always aspired to create art, or did you discover your calling later in life?
It was in college when I first started creating art. I remembered when I was in my freshman year, I saw all these Apple Macintosh computers lined up at the on-campus shop and there on the monitors, I saw a commercial about the ‘1984 model’, directed by Ridley Scott. I was shocked by the commercial and asked the shop clerk, “is it possible for me to create videos like this by using a Macintosh?” He told me, “Yes, it is.” I said to him, “I’ll take it!”, and purchased it on the spot with a 36-month payment plan.
Immediately after bringing it home, I realized I couldn’t just make a video like the commercial Ridley Scott made. Wanting to make my purchase worth it, I bought 3D and Adobe software right away to start learning how to make videos. That was my beginning.
Did you study art as a student or are you self-taught?
I was self-taught. My major was sociology but I learned 3D and Adobe software on my own. At the end of my senior year in college, I thought I didn’t have enough credits to graduate but had a trip planned to travel around Europe. When I came back from my trip at the beginning of the new semester, to my surprise, I actually had enough credits to graduate but no job in line. I felt that I was in trouble. So, I opened a phonebook and started calling all of the commercial houses from the top of my list. It was there where I started my career as a 3D designer, at the only company which hired me, learning my skills from the senior designers there.
What artists informed your development? And what artists do you look to now for inspiration?
Osamu Tezuka and René Laloux are my inspirations. Their unique imagination has such an influence on what I create.
What was a pivotal moment in the evolution of your work?
In 2015, I created a short video called “DIFFUSION” which was extremely personal. It received high appraisal by more people than I ever expected.
Tell us about your process. Do you begin with an image or a concept?
Reaction-diffusion system とか dynamic equilibrium など
My creation process usually starts with the thoughts of wanting to animate what I am interested in at the time of creation, such as reaction-diffusion system and dynamic equilibrium.
What informs your work? As a visual artist, are you inspired by music, film, science, literature or other art forms?
Nature really informs my work. I am very interested in how shapes, colors and movements in nature are tied together. They fascinate me and is the core inspiration for my creation.
What was the most challenging project that you worked on?
“MAKIN’ MOVES“ was the most challenging project. I needed to shift my usual style to comedy, and that made was the most challenging.
What do you enjoy most about the work you do?
The most exciting and favorite part of my creation is when I render at night before I go home. Coming in the next morning and seeing the renders that happened overnight is exciting.
How do you think NFTs will change the future for artists?
As digital artists, there have been no other ways to earn money than getting client work.
I hope with the existence of NFTs, it will increase the opportunity for artists to earn an income and create an environment where artists can create more freely.