As a typeface designer, Osamu Torinoumi has been involved in the creation of numerous typefaces. At the same time, he has also devoted himself to education and guidance relating to typeface design at Kyoto Seika University and Musashino Art University as well as at his own private school, Mojijuku. This exhibition’s art direction was performed by three of Torinoumi’s pupils, who created a space in which visitors can acquire a more sensory and physical understanding of typeface design. As the exhibition title suggests, by offering visitors an opportunity to “drown” in a sea of lettering densely displayed throughout the gallery, the show offered an opportunity to focus renewed awareness on Japan’s unique and indispensable writing systems – something we Japanese normally take for granted, as we do with water and air.
Osamu Torinoumi Making Type: Like Water, Like Air
January 15, 2022–March 19, 2022
ddd Karasuma, Kyoto
posted on YouTube
In this Gallery Talk Osamu Torinoumi and Takuya Tsutsumi, who curated the exhibition, offered comments on the show’s highlights. The exhibition evolved from manga based on scenes from Mr. Torinoumi’s life. Mr. Torinoumi said that originally he was unaware that the realm of graphic design includes type design. Then, when he was student, he heard how typographer Masahiko Kozuka had said that “to the Japanese people, characters are as vital to their lives as water and rice.” It called to his mind the clear water and fresh air of the Shonai Plain in Yamagata, where he grew up, and from that moment on, Mr. Torinoumi said, he decided creating type was what he would do. From the compendium of typefaces he had worked on, he then introduced a font he had created for a poem by Shuntaro Tanikawa, and the poem he had received as the poet’s expression of thanks. Mr. Torinoumi related that he focuses on creating type for the main text of a work, and the ideal he aims for is for the written text to be effortlessly absorbed by the reader without awareness of who created it – like water, like air. He then turned the topic to "Suzuki Tsutomu no hon," a memorial volume dedicated to typeface designer Tsutomu Suzuki, whom Mr. Torinoumi had sought advice from in the days he worked for Sha-Ken Co., Ltd. and JIYUKOBO Ltd. He had compiled this book, which traced Suzuki’s works throughout his career, on the recommendation of book designer Kouga Hirano. Finally, Mr. Torinoumi sat at a worktable placed in the gallery to resemble the one he actually uses. He showed a video describing how, using a keyboard and mouse, he creates the outlines of lettering which he wrote by hand using brush and inkstone. Mr. Tsutsumi closed the talk saying that the exhibition is filled with things to catch the interest not only of design students and designers, but even of people who have never given any thought to lettering before, so he hoped many people will come to see it.
Photographer: YOSHIDA Akihito