Artist Series 003: Robin Nishio
Robin Nishio, Director at Common Good Productions, is a man of many talents. Although we wished that we all lived in a world where this wasn't the case, you don't meet many video director/graphic designers these days! It was a no brainer when we asked him if he would like to create a 1 of 1 design for our LF Artist Series! He came up with the most intricate design yet (no hate to Moya and Josh <3, who created equally unique pieces that you should most definitely check out if you haven't already!), and let's just say our jaws dropped 2x! He shared some words with us about his inspiration for the piece and a few other details about his life and work. Peep!
Where did you grow up? What was your upbringing like? What were some of your early artistic/aesthetic influences/inspirations in life?
I grew up in the Malvern community in the far east end of Scarborough, almost on the Scarborough/Pickering border. Life is tough out there at times but the community is so vibrant and resilient that I couldn’t think of anywhere else I would have liked to have grown up. My parents were both artists. My mother was a visual artist and my father was a musician so there was always creative stimulation in our household. My mother has great taste in comic books and would always have them around for me to read. Titles like Love and Rockets, Eightball, and The Bradley’s, were always a huge source of inspiration for me growing up, even if I was a little too young to understand the subject matter.
How did you begin creating your own work?
I’m a bit of a chameleon when it comes to my work. My practice spans a bit of a range from designing t shirt graphics and doing concept art, to directing commercials and music videos at Common Good. I think that, in an overarching sense, I’ve always enjoyed the comprehensive process behind making these pieces across different mediums. I like figuring out how to make the thing, whatever that may be, and putting it out there. I’ve done that throughout my life and I’m lucky enough that I have friends that enjoy what I come up with and want to collaborate.
What are some personal creative projects that you’ve enjoyed working on as an artist?
Honestly, this project has been an absolute pleasure to work on. It came about naturally talking to you guys in the shop. Me and Jon trading stories about our grandfather’s WW2 histories. The story behind the graphic came from my Grandfather who was stationed in India. One night after a rare rainfall, the soldiers took their cots out of their tents to sleep under the cooler climate that the rain had brought. At around midnight their cots started rocking. Startled from their sleep they hazily peered over their cots at the ground to see a pack of jungle animals crawling down the mountain to hunt for the night. He said that that area was so starved that all of the animals hunted together in a pack regardless of species and were led by a giant white dog. He could have been putting me on a bit as a child but I think it makes for a nice image.
What books are you reading at the moment?
I’m reading “Between the World and Me” by Ta - Nehisi Coates and “The Hard Tomorrow” by Eleanor Davis. I tend to read books by and about people from marginalized groups these days with a healthy peppering of comics.
What music are you listening to at the moment?
Kim Petras’ Halloween album “Turn Off the Light” has literally not left the rotation since it came out as well as The Wicker Man soundtrack and the Suspiria soundtrack. The Crow soundtrack has been on a lot. It’s October and I like horror shit.
Is there an artist that you are especially inspired by these days and why?
Oof. Too many to count really but I’m mostly just inspired by the people around me in Toronto. My immediate friend group is and has always been, a constant source of inspiration to me. Oh, and also Nick Knight’s Roses from my Garden series is always a jaw dropper. Looking at that ongoing series gives me the same feeling as eating a really great meal.
What are some of your hobbies/interests outside of your medium?
I’m really into Sake and Whisky. If I wasn’t doing what I’m doing right now I would try to find work in one of those fields. I think a lot about going down the Sake certification route. I’m totally obsessed.
Do you have any advice for young artists picking up pencils and brushes and see it as a possible career?
Sure, I think you should seek as much inspiration as possible from mediums and disciplines outside of your own. It helps having a vast and ever expanding toolbox to shape and develop your taste level. That, and buy Kriota Willberg’s “Draw Stronger” so you can read it and learn that you don’t have to suffer (that much) for your art.