interview / liz rice mccray

This month we welcome Japanese artist Futaro Mitsuki and his stunning traditional Japanese portraits to the cover of BL!SSS Magazine. Mitsuki blends ink, acrylics and pencil utilizing pointillism and mythology to carefully craft hyper-detailed monochrome drawings and colorful paintings. Traditional Japanese portraiture that combine a modern twist of time, merging Japanese culture with western influence. Born in Tokyo in 1970, and in 1998 Graduated from Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, Futaro Mitsuki lives and works near Tokyo in his private studio.

“Futaro Mitsuki expresses the excitement and sensation of when an imaginary human in gorgeous costume encounters items from other cultures and other times,” Gallery Korgue says. “From that, the costume as the forms of portraits, sometimes like a slow motion, and sometimes as a dubious portrait. His expression of the Japanese kimonos he loves the most is overwhelming. The pointillist paintings he carefully creates dot by dot, taking hours of time to gather viewers from different culture in today’s world in front of his work.”

**Note, this interview was originally conducted in English then translated to Japanese, transcribed back into English and then back to Japanese and finally translated into English. If anything was lost in translation, we apologize. Futaro Mitsuki is a mystery; his work is a true testament to his artistry. After some searching (actually, a bunch of searching) we were pleased to be able to track down Futaro Mitsuki and ask him a couple questions. Many thanks to the lovely and talented Futaro Mitsuki for taking the time to answer our questions and to see more art from Futaro Mitsuki go to his website,

Hello, I’m always curious where people are when I interview them. Will you please describe where you are at this present moment? So we have a visual during our interview.
I am currently in my own atelier near Tokyo. It is a space where I can live. I have lived here for over 20 years, but this is only a secret space for me. Even my parents and brothers have never entered my studio.

How did your interest and inclination towards drawing start? Will you tell us a little bit about your early beginnings as an artist and how/when you knew it was what you wanted to do for the rest of your life? 
I heard from my mother that I was always drawing a picture in my young age. Even during class at school, I enjoyed having scribbles in textbooks and killing time. I was pleased that my friends were pleased when I painted a picture. I did not study even before the exam and the examination, and enjoyed doodling. My pictures at that time were the same monochrome miniature pictures as my present pictures.

From the high school days, contrary to before, I studied hard. I thought that I would take a job related to dyeing or design in the future. During my college years, I learned Japanese crafts, especially dyeing techniques. At the same time, I kept painting at home. Later, I felt that drawing was the most suitable for me. At that time, I started to feel that I would become a painter at last. Then I will be in a period to seek out what kind of picture I want to draw. It’s been about 15 years. I think that I am still on that extension line.

After painting colorful paintings, making prints applying dyeing techniques, making three dimensional works, trying various work creation, at about 35 years old I finally reached a place close to the current style of painting. I tried the technique that suits me and selected it; I chose the material, chose the color, lost the line. There were only black small points that remained. After all, I returned to my childhood graffiti. From that, I can now draw pictures naturally again.

Your art references the beauty and harmony of Japanese culture mixed with a modern twist. Will you talk about your influences?
In Japan, a vast amount of culture and records exist. And those cultures are still living. There are also hidden cultures. However, since the Meiji Period, Japanese people rushed too fast to Western culture. Many things that have been thrown away or destroyed, I think that is very MOTTAINAI [wasteful]. At the same time, the Japanese have also unexpectedly and successfully absorbed Western culture. There is unnaturalness and uncomfortable feeling in that figure, but I express the beauty and harmony arising from that with my pictures. Being born in Japan itself is the most important influence given to me. Everyone who was born in any country, I think that point is the same.

What mediums do you work with?
Pigment ink, pencil, acrylic paint etc.

Your work is captivating; it combines many elements with historical references of duty and honor. Can you tell us a little bit about that dichotomy?
I try to see things from both sides – history and modern times, past and future, from foreign country to Japan, from Japan to foreign countries, the earth and the universe, up and down, nature and artificial, etc. I want to make a moment when the contrast born when mixing the different things and the opposite thing creates beauty.

Will you give us some insight to your technique and creative process?
Pencil drawing on white paper. I do not prepare a sketch. I draw a picture thinly with a pencil and strike a dot of ink. I use a drawing pen. Since the point is black and the size of the point is nearly constant, I draw it only with the density of the point. The difficult part is where you can draw the three-dimensional feeling and identify it with only the same black point. As the number of points increases, points and dots will be visible in the illusion of the eye. Adjust the placement of the points while coping with it; bring the picture closer to completion. The end of the work is mostly out of time at the deadline.

Your drawings must require an incredible amount of patience to create; do you have strategies to sustain interest, enthusiasm and concentration?
There are many stories to draw. It will not run dry for a while. I am in a natural state when drawing a picture, so I have never thought that patience is necessary. But I do not have enough time to enjoy my life, so I always think I should have 30 hours a day.

Kind of cliché artist interview question here, but where do you draw inspiration from?
From momentary beautiful facial expression, nature, printed matter such as magazines, photographs, history, narrative, theater, Noh, kabuki, movies, etc.

Any last words for our readers, shout-outs, declaration of love or hate?
If you have read this article and have someone who was interested in my painting, I would be pleased if I could see you someday. Thank you very much.

Very last question. Where can our reader check out your art?
In January next year, I will be exhibiting at the group exhibition in the gallery in US as well.