Saki Matsumoto, Illustrator & Graphic Designer

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As part of the effort to ICAD Design Days to stimulate deeper discussions with the design community on the nature of being a design professional and the values of our work as a collective, we reached out to various industry practitioners and stakeholders, seeking their perspectives on a series of thought-provoking questions on current issues in relation to the core values professionalism.

Japanese illustrator and graphic designer Saki Matsumoto, shares her views with us.


What should the relationship between the academia and the industry be? How are we able to bridge the gap between what the academia is producing and what the industry is demanding (skills/traits/attitude, etc.)?

In Japan, education and work are separated. If students want to know work strategy, they have to get part-time jobs or internships. In Czech, student create projects in the society or are handed real work from acquaintances. I think students do not have to know what happens in an office, but they have to focus on their creation. Schools, however, should teach official things such as tax, law, right, pricing, promotion.


What does “multidisciplinary” mean to you? In your practice/industry, do you think it is more important to be a “generalist” or a “specialist”, and why?

Since medias are getting more and more varied and projects normally happen across media, we should have fundamental knowledge and skill of creation. But everything should be based on our sense. We have to always polish our skill and sense as a specialist, but we should also be generalist, to be flexible in finding more possibilities or project among medias. As an artist, gaining different experiences helps us become a specialist. I started to learn classical printmaking in Czech, and it helped me to develop print making sense of colour, simple design, industry printing technique.

Saki Matsumoto Work #2

How has your industry incorporated ethical practices, if there are any? Do you think ethical responsibilities fall on the shoulders of the artist/designers or the client, or both?

Ethical responsibilities should be on directors. Art/creative directors can be said to be doctors who solve problems visually. Therefore, the directors should be responsible for thinking of the solution and the expected results. As an artist, I think ethical practices do not have to include thinking of appreciation and result but should include how to express and how unique a project is. We now have a collaboration going on between musician and graphic artists internationally, just via online, organised by a Swedish composer. We are concerned about how to collaborate and interesting concepts.

Saki Matsumoto Work #3

Are the nature of awards and competitions still relevant today and why?

It is really up to the association and a country. We have to choose the named one and refer to the others’ result.  But we have at least shown our works to someone famous in that field whom you cannot meet and talk to personally.

Saki Matsumoto Work #4

What do you think is important for the arts practitioners/designers of the future to think about and challenge?

The two most important things are developing skills and sense, then developing communication skill. Clients want to assign projects to someone whom they’ve known already. So we should get to know more and more interesting people, and doing so can bring about jobs and collaborative projects We can also draw inspiration from other works.