Artist spotlight: Yusuke Nakamura

Artist spotlight: Yusuke Nakamura

Well-drawn backgrounds, fine details, and delicate colour. Illustrator Yusuke Nakamura talks about the charm and the secret story of the birth of the product!
A girl who stands dignified in a world with full of colour, bold colour schemes, various ideas and stories. He is an illustrator, Yusuke Nakamura, who is popular for his vivid colors and nostalgic style.
He spoke with graniph about the process leading up to the creation of the collection and his thoughts on the work.


With an offer over four years,
Collaboration made possible
─ Illustrated T-shirtsI thought it was lame ─


── Please tell us about the process leading up to this collaboration.

Graniph There are many fans of Mr. Nakamura's illustrations in graniph, and we have been approaching him for about four years. With this collaboration, I feel like my wish has finally come true.

Yusuke When I first received the offer, I had an image of making something like an old anime T-shirt. It's like an item that fans can use to express their loves for the series, and although they wear it in rooms or at events, it would be too strong to wear for daily use. However, when graniph asked me to make a T-shirt featuring the movie "Summer Wars", I completely changed my mind. Originally, I was a big fan of the movie, so I accepted the offer, but during the exchanges leading up to the release, I was amazed at the graphics and details that graniph made. It made me realize that illustrated T-shirts can also be used as fashion items.

graniph It was a collaboration project to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the animation production company "Studio Chizu", which worked on "Summer Wars". At the time of its release in 2021, the collaboration attracted a lot of attention, and the released products were almost sold out.

Yusuke graniph was particular about the reproducibility of the work, and they also handled the retakes carefully. To be honest, I thought that an apparel company whose main products are reasonable items would have a short production period, but it took more than half a year, right? Through that job, I learned that graniph is a company that values works and motifs, and I really wanted to work with them on this collaboration.

graniph During that half year, we had many opportunities to talk, so we approached Mr. Nakamura about this collaboration before the project ended, saying, "We don't want this to end!"

Yusuke For example, even if I receive an offer that looks interesting for commercialization, if they say, "I'll check with the person in charge," during the meeting, I would decline the offer because I don't have the discretionary power. No matter what I asked, graniph would clearly say, "We can do it!" or "It's impossible." I felt the enthusiasm for commercialization.

graniph Thank you. But actually, after the meeting with Mr. Nakamura, I apologized to the production team, saying, "I'm sorry, I told him I could do it!"(laughs)


with ideas and ingenuity
create attractive items
─ ``Expensive because they are particular'',
We don't want to say 

── What was the point that you were particular about in this collaboration?

Yusuke I believe that ``the work is over once it starts to flow'', and this time as well, there wasn't a single work that I thought was like ``Yea, that's okay,'' and I was particular about everything. To give an example, I was happy that I was able to express the appeal of the 12cm x 12cm CD covers with clothes.

graniph ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION's CD covers T-shirt. We proposed a design with four covers arranged side by side, but Mr. Nakamura suggested that one should be a transparent pocket.

Yusuke By printing the CD illustration under the pocket, it is a gimmick that conveys that the other motifs are the CD covers. The demand for CDs is declining year by year, but in my youth, CDs were "equal music." CDs are still my favorite media.

graniph You can put your favorite CD cover in it and wear it or decorate it. It's good that it's established even if you don't put anything in it. I think that it has become an item that you can enjoy your own arrangement.

Yusuke graniph's collection is interesting because it's unique to what you wear. I really enjoyed the challenge of incorporating my own work and expanding my ideas. The one piece of "The Night is Short, Walk on Girl" expresses the thread that extends from the girl's fingers with red embroidery and connects it to the back of her sleeve. Such gimmicks are the real thrill of apparel, which comes from imagining the scene where you actually wear it through your sleeves.

graniph The three-story train of Lee Baekwon is also running in the sleeves. Of course, we would be happy if fans of the original work could enjoy it and say, "This is how it turned out!" And the red thread embroidery here! In the original picture, the red thread was embroidered from the outside of the apple, but in the product, the fingertips of the girl are embroidered with red thread. When we were talking with Mr. Nakamura while looking at the sample, we thought, "we really want to embroider from the fingertips, right?" It's fun to have this live feeling of making it together.

Yusuke The pocket that adorns the chest of this T-shirt has a size that makes you think of a Japanese playing card, and an angle that makes it look like that actually sticking on. I thought it would be interesting.

graniph At first, we were proposing a design to print a cover illustration on a regular pocket, but Mr. Nakamura's inspiration, "I want to make it look as if the Hanafuda cards are naturally placed there," was adopted. 


── Nakamura's work is characterized by its well-drawn backgrounds, fine details, and vivid colors. How was the finished print?

Yusuke I can't betray the fans of the original work and those who like my illustrations, so I was very particular about the quality of the prints. I may have made difficult requests at times, but graniph always said, "We did our best!" and brought the revised version as expected. I was always surprised, thinking, "What do you mean by 'We did our best'!? Even if I did my best, it wouldn't come out with such a beautiful colour? (laughs)".

graniph The process was too complicated, and we wanted to convey the efforts of the production team and the factory, so we ended up using the expression "We did our best" (laughs). By the way, the technical staff did their best with the print samples we brought this time! For the lining of this girl's skirt, in order to express the texture of the lace fabric drawn by Mr. Nakamura, we used white as the base and layered colors to somehow express the nuances. we and the technical staff also want to surprise Mr. Nakamura first.

Yusuke The colour reproduction was also amazing. The slightly grayish white of this white tiger is also very rich. this is nice If I were a girl, I would wear it!

graniph The silk screen printed T-shirt of "The Tatami Galaxy" was also revised. In the first sample, the colour of the girl's clothes was light, so we added cyan (bluish), but the yellow of the moon and mochiguman was affected, so I made further fine adjustments.

Yusuke I think I gave the OK for the second sample, but to think that the third time would come... Great technical staff! "It's really a good job to create something attractive with ideas and technology while keeping the price affordable." After all, it's natural to say, "It's expensive because we're particular about it." Despite the low price, the quality is great. It's something only graniph can do.


─ Do not flatter, do not laugh
in the form of a neutral girl
Thoughts ─

── Dignified and cool girls who are synonymous with Nakamura's works. Please tell us the thoughts you put into the appearance of the girl, who has appeared in many of the items in this collection.

Yusuke The girls I draw are not smiling. It's not that they are grumpy, but they are natural. As a woman, she continues to be pressured by society to laugh. If she's a man, she'll be forgiven for being sullen, but if she's a woman, she'll be told that she's not charming. I don't like when people force themselves to laugh, and I don't find people like that is attractive. That's why the girls I draw are always neutral. When she sees it, she sympathizes with it, and I would be happy if both the wearer and the viewer can feel at ease and say, "It's good."

graniph By breaking free from CD covers and novel covers, we once again feel the presence and charm of girls. Mr. Nakamura's illustrations, ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION, and fans of novels and anime, of course, but we think that the collection will be attractive to other people as well

Yusuke I am glad to hear that. Even so, it was fun! I definitely want to do it again.


Yusuke Nakamura

Born in Takarazuka City, Hyogo Prefecture Japan in 1978. He graduated from Osaka University of Arts, Department of Design. He is an illustrator who has worked on numerous book covers, including CD covers for ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION and Masashi Sada, "Mystery Solving After Dinner", "The Night is Short and Walk on Girl", and music textbooks. In addition, he has a wide range of expressions, such as character design for the anime "The Tatami Galaxy" and "Kaju Gummy" TV commercials, band activities as Sails, TV and radio appearances, and essay writing. His first collection of works "Blue" is recording an exceptional 95,000 copies for an art book.

Back to blog