Íñigo Studio (@inigo_studio) creates with his illustrations a refined and elegant world. These concepts are often synonymous with formality and seriousness, but in Íñigo’s characters the opposite is true: they are always well dressed, but they are relaxed and having a good time. Whether practicing sports at the country club, shopping in Ginza, walking their pets, skateboarding, or going to the konbini, Íñigo’s characters have an elegance that is not only born from the clothes they wear: it is a natural attitude.
Unlike many illustrators who draw their inspiration from Japan, the drawings of this Spanish illustrator based in Tokyo —despite being a fervent fan of Sailor Moon— are not so close to the manga. In their minimalism and stroke, they are more reminiscent of ukiyo-e and the world of calligraphy and traditional Japanese printing.
The work of Íñigo Studio could not be conceived without fashion. This relationship goes in two directions: first, because in his illustrations clothes have a great prominence; second because he also designs clothes by applying his drawings.
Íñigo moved to Tokyo “by vocation”: he says he felt the call of the Japanese culture that had attracted him since he was a child. I chatted with him about his projects and how Tokyo is a city where you can’t escape inspiration.
Chorareii: How do you define yourself as an artist? How do you define your illustration style?
Íñigo: I love the stroke, the black ink line, sketchy and fast. I don’t like to represent reality as I see it but in a “cartoonized” way, a bit romanticized and nostalgic.
How has living in Tokyo influenced your art, your inspiration and your creative process?
Tokyo is electric! I’m from the Spanish city of Burgos, I was a Madrilenian by adoption for years but now I live in Tokyo by vocation. The city inspires me all the time and illustration is everywhere: subway ads, TV, supermarkets, even police stations and city halls in Tokyo have their own animated mascots.
Your illustrations are very minimalist, they seem to be hand-painted. On a technical level, how do you work on them?
I love paper and ink but have moved to digital. I work with my iPad and the Procreate app.
You have your own clothing line, how do you develop this part of Íñigo Studio?
I love the world of printing, offset, screen printing… When I do illustrations for products I don’t choose illustrations at random and print them, I like to design directly on the product in question.
What is your relationship with fashion?
I’ve always worked in fashion and I love it! Within the fashion world, I was a model, booker, public relations… Now I work for a Japanese brand called MUVEIL (@muveil_official).
What are your artistic references, especially Japanese?
Lots of them! But here are a few: Naoko Takeuchi (the creator of Sailor Moon!), Hozumi Kazuo, Osamu Harada….
Where do you go in Tokyo when you need inspiration?
I go to Jimbōchō and its stores selling old books and magazines. Although normally, in Tokyo you don’t need to look for inspiration, it’s the inspiration that finds you in unexpected places! A supermarket and its illustrations with the offers of the day, the menu of an izakaya written in Chinese ink…
Any outstanding projects you would like to tell us about?
These are just ideas but I would love to make large-format paintings exhibit somewhere in Tokyo, print merchandising a bit atypical… wish me luck!
Where would you like to see your illustrations in the future?
I’d love to see Sailor Moon mangaka Naoko Takeuchi wearing a t-shirt of mine. And Lana del Rey too! Then a cover in The New Yorker… can I go on?