The Japanese design team celebrate the Paralympic movement and diversity in their creative artwork
The official art posters have become an iconic part of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
As part of the cultural and artistic legacy of the Games, 19 internationally renowned artists and designers have been involved in the creation of the Tokyo 2020 Official Posters.
To create one of the official Tokyo 2020 Art Posters, GOO CHOKI PAR, a three-man design unit formed by ISHII Rei, IITAKA Kent and ASABA Q, chose the theme “moving forward” and designed a poster featuring a dynamic and energetic form of a person in motion. What is the message the three designers wanted to convey?
The poster you designed depicts a person who is moving forward. What thoughts and emotions did you put into the poster?
IITAKA: We wanted to portray the positive attitude and actions of a person who is looking to the future, and as a symbol of that image we featured a person moving forward. Diversity comes in many forms — impairments, nationalities, gender and so on — and how beautiful and cool the people are who accept their differences and try to overcome any obstacle they face. That’s what we tried to express.
We understand that in preparation for the poster production, you actually went to see Paralympic sports.
ASABA: I went to see Para table tennis. The athletes moved so swiftly in their wheelchairs, and their chair work was amazing. It was impressive to see how the athletes use their arms in a unique way too.
IITAKA: When I went to a Para athletics competition, the athletes’ families and friends were there cheering them on and I realised that the athletes are not competing alone. When I imagined the drama and the lives of the people who were there, I felt very emotional and inspired. It was the first time in a long time that I went to a sport competition. I could sense how nervous and excited people were, and I was especially moved by the intense force I felt.
ISHII: After seeing Para sport in action, we wanted to express the positive force of sport through the poster. Our spirits really went into creating this poster that vibrantly illustrates athletes who are the centre of attention in sport competitions.
What kind of process did you go through until you finished the poster?
IITAKA: We decided on the concept right away, and we started working on forming the main “person moving forward”. We gathered in one place, each bringing our own ideas, and we verified dozens of forms, altering them little by little, making slight adjustments, and we finally agreed on the current look, which we all thought was dynamic and vibrant.
ASABA: As we usually do in our production process, we all create the basic design together. And once we decide on the basic framework, the three of us take turns working on it. For this poster we created about 30 versions, and it took us about three months to finish it.
ISHII: We all worked on it together, using typical Japanese colours, and we also paid particular attention to blank spaces that also add beauty to the whole piece. I think it’s our best work so far.
Being selective in the creative process
As a design unit, what steps do you usually take to produce your work?
IITAKA: We mix our individual strengths and skills and put our combined capabilities into a single piece. For example, usually a single artist would work on a painting, but the approach the three of us take is like putting layer upon layer to create a single painting. It’s almost like we foster a single persona called GOO CHOKI PAR.
What’s the key word that is important to you?
ASABA: We’re not artists; we’re graphic designers. So the important thing for us is ‘to communicate’. This poster will link the stakeholders with the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, so we included the official Games title, the emblem and the 22 sport names too.
ISHII: We want to use expressions that the world has never seen before. Many of the works in the world of graphic design are very simple, but we want to create expressions that are new and different.
IITAKA: We are determined not to adapt to what is mainstream now. Today’s graphic design is mainly digital, but we’re not too conscious about the borderline between digital and analogue. By firmly adding some modifications, digital expressions can become very physical too. This time we actually drew the images, scanned it and used parts of it and combined parts of CG-generated images too. Our advantage may be that we never draw a line that limits our methods of expression.
Is there any new method of expression you adopted for this poster?
ASABA: We used an airbrush for the first time. By spraying the paint, we achieved a unique texture that we think matched the way we wanted to express the speed and instantaneous power of sport.
Passion for sport
What sport do you like, and what do you look forward to in the Games?
ASABA: For about 10 years starting in my first year in middle school, I used to skateboard, and I had hoped it would be featured in the Olympic Games some day. So I’m really looking forward to the Olympic skateboarding event. I’m also interested in table tennis, the sport where I got my name. (‘Q’ is taken from ‘takkyu’, which is table tennis in Japanese.)
IITAKA: I recently played table tennis with the corporate team of the company chaired by Q’s father. It’s been a while since I worked out like that. It was fun and I had such a good time that I’m now very much into table tennis. I play mini-table tennis with my four-year-old daughter too. She has never seen a real table tennis match, so I can’t wait to see how excited she’ll be when she watches the Tokyo 2020 Games.
ISHII: I’m looking forward to football because I played from elementary school all the way until I graduated from high school. During the Tokyo 2020 Games I’ll pay special attention to the Paralympic Games. I want to watch the Opening Ceremony and feel the excitement, and I’d like to watch different sports.
We heard that you also made a poster for all the Paralympic sports as well.
IITAKA: Each sport has its own uniqueness and they’re all attractive. Our desire to capture that grew stronger, and as a result we made a poster for each sport. I hope everyone will appreciate our image of Paralympians looking positively toward the future and moving forward.