And we aren’t going to stop! Handmadefont got another chance to shed light on artists’ daily routine, and this time we are going to visit Brooklyn, New York, to talk to product designer and artist Adam Fujita, and this conversation led us not only to secrets of typography and neon paintings – but behind theatrical stage as well.
— Adam, thank you for this opportunity to learn more about you and your work; we are pretty excited about where our conversation can go – and as we mentioned the verb “to go”, we can’t help but ask: how did you go into graphic design?
— I was raised in a theater family so I grew up performing. I was on stage early and did print and tv commercials for many years.Basically the first half of my life I performed a lot. I went back to drama school when I moved from San Francisco to New York City in the early 2000’s. I was working as a professional actor up until about 2012 or so. I went back to grad school to study design Product Design at SVA-PoD and in getting my MFA I found a new direction for my work and my interests. I also found a new media which to explore which was “product”. I went back to spray painting walls but I approach my neon work as if it were product. Trying to solve problems.
— And how did you come into this branch of graphic design? What was so special for you about typography that you decided to choose it?
— I think it might sound hokey but typography kinda chose me. however in the most current state and me using neon not only a metaphor but neon as a vessel for the type has been very deliberate. neon always gives information, it indicates way finding and often signage indicates peoples opinions and ways that we could hopefully influence people’s opinions. I’ve had a lifelong obsession with lettering starting as a little boy. I talk about this on my podcast which is called My Life In Letters, where my mothers cursive really inspired me to want to learn more about making beautiful letters. There have been waves in my life where type did not play a big role but currently its enormous and engrossing. Also type is everywhere in New York City and every city, and I am so blessed and honored to be surrounded by such gorgeous graphic design. You see it here in the subway stations to boutique stores, to museums and in theater advertisement. it’s just everywhere and so much of it is gorgeous. And a lot of it is terrible of course. But I’m accepting to the process.
— Was your current style like, you know, love at first sight? I mean the feeling when you realize that this is yours and you don’t need anything else? Or you tried yourself in other graphic design directions?
— When I think about my history with graphic design or with creating type, I had to go in 100 different directions to try to find something that felt good. And it often doesn’t feel very good for me. I’ve been painting a lot lately with my neon work and there’s a lot of improvement that I’m striving for. There’s a lot of work in front of me.
— Do you remember your first big project? How did the whole experience feel?
— If we were just talking about lettering projects I am not quite sure I’ve even had the big lettering project. I’m still waiting! My biggest personal project is my daughter. My three-year-old is the biggest project I’ve ever taken on. And hands down the most incredible and rewarding experience. Going back to graduate school in my late 30’s was a huge project. Two rigorous years of work and that was incredibly challenging as I was being stretched in a discipline I had no formal training in.
— How about sharing some principles and tricks of yours with a big audience? There are certain rules that designers use as their guiding lights. What are yours?
— I love this question! I’m not sure I can share tricks with you when it comes to how I work. What I can definitely say about secrets and principles though is something I learned in drama school from a great acting teacher. She would point out to me a weakness I had on stage, but she guided me to turn it into a strength. We all have weaknesses in whatever field we work in, and if we can look at our weaknesses are identify them to embrace and not judge that we could then transform it into something that has value. So much of this school of thought is about trusting yourself and in the process. An example of this is, I personally just have terrible discipline with italics when painting on the wall. It’s very difficult for me to get all of my italics even and I have decided to just embrace that. More importantly I’ve taken that perfection off it’s pedestal and abandon this notion that I should even have perfectly balanced italics across a piece. Instead I would look into pushing the irregularity of my work even further. But that can only happen through embracing it as opposed to trying to fight it.
— There are things that make us want to work more, more and more. Our driving force. What is inspiration for your?
— I am mostly inspired by my family, I can’t help but be inspired by the news cycle and most of the bafoons that are credited with making the news. The US government in the clowns that are running this country provide so much fuel for my artistic fire that it’s almost never ending. Also I absolutely adore a couple dozen Instagram accounts that I follow which are a real source of re-energizing me from time to time. It is easy in New York City just sometimes get a little bit down by either workload or other external factors, so I am really grateful for artist on Instagram that share their work. But I can go on and on forever about what and who inspires me it’s it’s a never ending list.
— I guess, sooner or later every artist stumbles upon such a big problem like depression. It’s impossible always to stay positive, especially for a designer. How do you fight melancholy? What is your recipe?
— For me I go back to my base which is my family and my friends I try to set up more coffees with friends in or around New York City. I’m really blessed to have so many irons in the fire for instance my podcast is a really interesting way for me to get rejuvenated because I will do an interview with a graffiti writer or a typographer somewhere thousands of miles away and will have this conversation and I learned something new. That can just really can pump me up. I think anything that can connect you back to some of the foundational aspects of who you are will really help to create more inspiration.
— Besides lettering, typography and walls painting, what are your hobbies?
— I think that by having hobbies we again we connect with who we are. I love to ride my bike. I grew up in California camping so I love to be outdoors. I also grew up in the theater as I mentioned, so my wife and I see a lot of New York City theater. Its another blessing about living in the city that we can just go see a Broadway show at the drop of a hat. I think performance in general is really important for me to see. Be it a dance performance, art, musical, or movies. For me and performance has always fueled my work.
— A question that is last but not the least: how are things? What do you have in mind as your creative plans for the nearest future?
— I am excited that I’m going to have two solo shows in 2018, one at the Truborn Gallery in Chicago that is opening up on March 3 and my other show is going to be at the 1 AM generator space in the Oakland on November 5th. Both of the shows will be working towards investigating our struggles with voting in this country and investigating why we don’t vote as a nation. But I think one of my biggest creative plans for the year is to protest and to push back and challenge what we are seeing every day and doing everything I can as one person to not let what we are seeing become normalized. I see this as one of the greatest dangers that we are facing right now. As it pertains to my neon I plan on pushing it as far as I can. It seems endless.