Interview with Stereo Tennis: A Graphic Designer Who Makes 80’s pop style design Her Own
Stereo Tennis is a graphic designer who is known to be inspired by 80’s pop style design. Last year, she was responsible for the main visuals for Tokyo Girl’s Collection as well as the interior design for the purikura studio “Moeru Mignon Maihama IKSPIARI” located within IKSPIARI in Tokyo Disney Resort. But her achievements go far beyond that. Right now, she goes back and forth between Tokyo and Kagoshima for work, and in this interview, she tells us the inspiration behind her works and her future projects.
————Please tell us a little about your background.
“I went to an art school in Kyoto, and started VJ-ing while I was a student. I ended up making a team for it. I also worked part-time at a record shop and dabbled in design work too. Even when I entered a design firm after graduation, I continued doing freelance work and after a while, my freelance work exceeded my work at the firm so I quit and came out to Tokyo. It wasn’t like I started working at an agency right out of college, but more like an apprenticeship!”
———— Why did you decide to move to Tokyo?
“One of my friends that was my senior said she was going to Tokyo and asked me if I wanted to go with her. I was honestly a bit bored with the culture in Kyoto at the time.”
————Did you VJ at places like WORLD (club in Kyoto)?
“Yeah, and also METRO.”
————Is there any graphic designer or artist you gain inspiration from design-wise?
“I was young so I loved just about anything. 80s vinyl covers and ads in magazines. It wasn’t like a specific designer – it was more like a certain mood or way something was presented that attracted me.”
————You were in elementary school in the 80s, correct? You wouldn’t say you looked at the design and thought, “This is awesome!” I presume?
“You’re right, but I do remember what I saw on TV.”
————Why do you think you became so attracted to the 80s culture since then?
“Whatever my older relative was watching, I was immediately drawn to it.”
————I see. Being influenced by someone older who you look up to is quite common. Change of subject, but do you usually take requests for design work?
“Yes, mostly. I actually don’t create freely that much like some other artists.”
————You must have to make some of your work geared towards the 80s even if it might be difficult to do so at first. Is it hard for you to make that switch or create a strong image in your mind?
“I’m always looking at things with that particular filter, so no matter what I am given, I will see it like that. I have so much stock of it that whatever I see is in the 80s filter (laughs).”
———— We took a look at your website, and there is so much merchandise!
“I start with textiles and create the products myself. From purses to makeup bags, I also do the actual design of the products as well. Then I’ll ask my friends to do garment manufacturing.”
———— You’re also in charge of Denki Groove’s merchandise as well, correct? How did you get the job?
“There was a TV drama series on TV Tokyo called Spooky Romantics by “Kera-san (Keralino Sandrovich), and the producer wanted the entire drama to have an 80s vibe to it. That’s when they contacted me directly. The ending theme song for the drama was by Denki Groove, and I was in charge of the illustrations for the animation to go with the song. I wasn’t able to meet him in person at the time, though.”
————Did you eventually get to meet him?
“A year later, I got an offer to create the tour goods for Denki Groove. Mr. Ishino is really heads-on with whoever the creative mind is, and lets you do your thing. Which is also why there was pressure to not make anything weird. You can’t be wishy-washy with this job – you really need to go head-on and put your all in it. This was a really great experience for me and I learned so much.”
ーーーーBy the way, last year in your native Miyakonojo, you did an exhibition titled “Stereo Tennis’ Work Exhibit” at the library.
“Yeah, I did! Actually now, I live between Tokyo and Kyushu. Tokyo and Kagoshima and Miyazaki. I’m originally from Miyazaki, and Kagoshima is really close. Right now, it’s pretty fun working from those locations. I enjoy working with people who work in the food industry, and also with people who have returned from Tokyo or moved there from other places. I’m able to do things I can’t otherwise do in Tokyo.”
————What triggered this?
“A huge library which has been received the Good Design Award was created in my hometown to promote the culture, and I was very interested in that so since the middle of the year before last, I’ve been going back home at least once a month. I just realized how fun it is there too. I also made more friends in the area. There are more people who work in two different locations like me, and it doesn’t even cost much for travel if you use LCC (Low-Cost Career). Also, I like that it’s easier to get permission on projects over there. In Tokyo, there are so many people trying to do similar things so it can be difficult to differentiate yourself from others. That’s why it’s much more fun when projects go through seamlessly, and also when those projects are introduced in Tokyo. Right now, it’s important for me to actually enjoy the work I do. I love Tokyo of course, but I appreciate it a lot more now that I live away half of the time.”
————By the way, how did you come up with the name “Stereo Tennis?”
“When I was in Kyoto, I created an 80s-inspired team with my friends and we just put together two words that sounded very 80s. There’s actually not much meaning behind it. ‘Stereo’ and ‘tennis’ both sound pretty 80s, don’t you think?”
——ーーI understand. It is very 80s (laughs). Is there anyone you would like to work with, despite the genre?
“Yes, there is! I’ve been Tweeting this on Twitter for a while, but the cast for Queer Eye was recently in Japan to shoot. It seems like the season will be on air in Japan. I really love them! It has nothing to do with the 80s, but I’d love to make merchandise or something. I really want to put myself in different places and I would have loved to meet them.”
————Lastly, if you have any announcements, please let us know!
“I started a vintage eyewear store (online) for all eyewear lovers called “Good Old OPTICIAN’S,” which is run jointly with Miyakojo Eyewear Store.”
Translated by Samantha Mariko
writer： Atsuko Matsuda