Mr Monochromanic - Yusei Abe


Tell me about the painstaking process of creating your pieces? Does it start in a sketchbook? Or can you map it out while you draw? 
I usually start with drawing bunch of small thumbnail drawings with pen. I prefer using pen rather than using pencil because I can get a closer image. Then I draw a grid and transfer it to illustration board. I used to map out all details and use tracing paper to transfer the image, but since I started putting more detail into my artwork, I just draw a basic rough layout with some detailed drawings of key images in order to save time and accelerate my productivity.

What's in your sketchbook? Are you constantly drawing?
I do not draw constantly, but I always try to do some quick sketching whenever I come across interesting ideas.

Did you begin drawing like this in school in the US or did this begin in Japan? Was there a different in teaching techniques between the two?
I started drawing like this in the US when I was in college. I used to prefer watercolors rather than pens.

I’ve never taken an art class in Japan since I graduated from high school, but I think they put more energy to teach actual techniques rather than having critiques. On the other hand, here in the US, after we learn basic skills, we draw and paint at home and spend most of our class meetings for critiquing. This is just my personal opinion and could be wrong.

Also, in the US, what they teach is rationalized, and they don’t really teach old traditional techniques any more. On the other hand, in Japan, not only do they teach modern skills but also painting and drawing techniques in traditional ways with traditional tools, such as Nihon-ga and Ukiyo-e. Again, this is just my personal opinion.


Everyone asks, how long does one final drawing take? 
It depends on the size of artwork. Small pieces like 8x10, it usually takes 2-4 days (6-8 hours/day). Bigger pieces like "Ryusou" takes about 3-4 weeks. 

What is the significance of the number 5?
I draw number 5 as a part of my signature. It's just like Japanese traditional carpenters who carve their hidden signature or mark in an attic space when they complete construction. The reason why I choose number 5 is that I believe it has a perfect shape, and is one of the most powerful and balanced numbers. It has curves, straight lines and corners. It's just perfectly balanced.


There’s an obvious question when drawing with such detail and producing work, how can it sustain? 
I learned how hard it was to keep myself motivated to be productive from this solo show. I try not to get bored with what I do, so that I always try to work with something different and new. And also I usually work on more than one piece simultaneously. It helps to make one piece keep pace with other pieces content-wise and quality-wise. There tends to be quite a big difference between the artwork I made six months ago and the latest both content-wise and quality-wise.

Tell me about the themes you include. Boats, Birds, and Eggs?
I often draw flying boats (objects) and crows. I just like drawing them. When I was kid, I always dreamed of having my own boat and traveling the world by myself. It could be one of the reasons, but not quite. It doesn't have to be boats. It could be anything I can imagine. Sometimes it it very hard to find the reasons for what I draw. And I believe it doesn't always have to have reasons. It could be anything which can fit the space and make the artwork look interesting.