[Illustrator: Kyosuke] Points on drawing art versus commercial illustrations



The difference between an artist and a commercial illustrator

There are two main types of illustrators. The first being the artist. An artist pursues their own work and continues to create them from scratch. The second being a commercial illustrator who takes the client’s concept and brings it to the page.


“I am not an artist.”


…Kyosuke says. No, no, no, as far as us amateurs are concerned, these illustrations look like very beautiful art…


Illustration for Bocariodo P’s MV “Fast The End”


“In my case, in regard to my job I’m the type who asks what the other person wants and then I present ideas asking, “Why don’t we do something like this?” I listen to the clients wishes, submit a rough sketch of the concept, I turn it into a line drawing, and then add colour. It’s like bridging the gap between the concept and what the other party wants. For example, with Vocaloid P’s Bocariodo P. Even though I’ve known him since I was a student, I still asked him in advance about what he wanted when designing the illustrations for his MV and CDs (He basically said he would leave everything up to me (laughs)). “


Hmm… I see. Of course, there could be a big difference between “drawing illustrations that someone else wants” and “drawing your own illustrations that make money”.


“Artists create their work from scratch, and being able to make a living off of that is extremely respectable. However, if you’re a commercial illustrator, it’s more like your skills are what are for sale, not necessarily the art itself.”


Illustration for Bocariodo P’s “Rebellions”album cover




I can’t throw away art as my means of expression

Kyosuke still remembers to draw his own expressive art.


“In regard to my commercial illustrations, I work a couple of days a week, and on my off days I draw requests for people who follow my work. After graduating from university, I worked doing designs/illustrations for places like illustration companies,and game companies. However, I wanted to draw art that I could call my own and not just what others want, so I developed the current way that I do work.”


lucifer (a piece exhibited at the El Shadai Exhibition)


Whether you are a pro or an amateur, drawing something you love, may help you keep true to yourself. 


“Drawing was like a means of communication to me. However, I had a rough time until I was able to say, “I love it!” to my own illustrations.”


Kyosuke’s workspace at home!




Until he was able to call it his own

Kyosuke graduated from an art university in England. Not only the language and culture, but it looks like he naturally hit a wall in regard to art as well.


“At first, I studied abroad because I wanted to draw illustrations from picture books. For the  first 1-2 years, I stuck to drawing as I liked, and I continued like that. That’s when I dabbled in realism. But at one point, one of my teachers told me, “Draw your pictures.” To some people, all the manga-style pictures I drew back then seemed the same. Though some classmates said “You don’t need to change!” I thought that it was a good opportunity to explore what my style really was.”


We are Japanese. Therefore when one sees the faces of Japanese people, one can feel the difference between Japanese manga and anime. However, from the perspective of people from the UK, the Japanese faces are hard to distinguish, and Japanese anime and anime illustrations may look similar. Of course, the same can be said the other way around.


Picture book illustrations from his study abroad (university graduation project)


“So, in my third year, I thought,”I’ll do whatever I want!” and I tried drawing more candidly. And suddenly, I started to get more feedback on my work. From the foreign perspective, it felt Japanese, and sometimes Japanese people would say it felt foreign.”


Illustrations by Kyosuke, are said to be a fusion of Japanese styles as well as styles from abroad. This is most likely thanks to his study abroad.




The value of illustrations in Japan and abroad

“Actually, while studying abroad, I got work to do a cover design for a book from a publisher. I was still a student then and had little experience, so to be frank I was so surprised that my work had left such an impression to the point I was like “Me? Really??!!””


In Japan the monetary compensation for illustrators in Japan is said to be relatively low. Also, apparently some companies and individuals request free illustrations, in exchange for promotion saying, “I’ll put my name on the game or book” and “It will also be your promotion.” 


【Commission】FFBE Bruce



【Commission】Sengoku IXA 10 million champion 2020 Illustration Collection


#仕事絵 【仕事絵】戦国IXA千万の覇者 2020年イラストまとめ - キョー介のイラス...


[Conceptual costume] From Salome to you 



“Maybe if their name appears on the work… I think some people would be okay with it. I have also had real life experience with this. I have thankfully been able to build really good relationships with the clients I am currently working with but I think that I am a lucky case. Although it’s being called Cool Japan, there are very limited cases where people who are in the industry can become wealthy off of it. The other day, I had the opportunity to talk with some people in companies abroad, and I was surprised at the initial amounts they were receiving because it was way more than I expected and from what I had heard on places like social media.”


Yes, it’s Cool Japan!! Not just Kyosuke, but many other illustrators and animators are the treasures of Japan. How can we get better treatment for them… We here can’t do much, but let’s put our creators first. If anyone from a Japanese company is reading this, we urge you to please consider the actual situation facing these creators.




  • Kyosuke 









Shiro Sato

Having started an advertising production company in 2010 whose main business partner is a mail order company, he specialises in direct response advertising.

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