Why is the salaryman carrying a surfboard?

— Asking Questions with Ray Masaki​


Why is the salaryman carrying a surfboard? —Asking Questions with Ray Masaki


Interview by Charis Poon
Images courtesy of Ray Masaki
Japanese translation by Yuto Miyamoto

著者: シャリッス・プーン
日本語翻訳: 宮本裕人

“Why are there so many white and Western-featured models in Japanese advertisements? How come there are so many strange or incorrect usages of English in Japanese product packaging and clothing? And how have extremely offensive things like blackface and racial stereotyping become normalized and not necessarily uncommon to see in Japanese media?”


Ray Masaki (真崎嶺) attempts to answer these questions and other equally complex ones in his self-published Japanese and English bilingual book Why is the salaryman carrying a surfboard?. Over the course of six essays, he tackles the history and context of institutional white supremacy and Westernization in the Japanese design industry, which he has been working in for the past four years. As a Japanese American graphic designer from New York, Ray moved to Tokyo in 2017 to cultivate a deeper connection with his Japanese roots and quickly started questioning things he saw around him as well as questioning his own sense of identity and responsibility as a designer.


Ray and I were classmates at Parsons The New School for Design in New York where we completed our undergraduate studies. When I saw him announce his work on this book, I immediately began to look forward to reading it. My experiences living in Hong Kong have shown me how conversations about race and racism in Asia are often reductive, lack empathy, and are detached from historical contexts. Why is the salaryman carrying a surfboard? strikes a remarkable balance—providing nuance without being overwhelming, giving background without making excuses for contemporary behavior. Ray’s book guides readers to the best possible response they can have when learning about bias: genuine curiosity to ask more questions and the desire to talk to those around you about what you’ve read.


Why is the salaryman carrying a surfboard? is currently available via Kickstarter.

「日本の広告には、なぜ白人や欧米人のモデルが多いのか? どうして商品のパッケージやアパレルに間違った英語がたくさん使われているのか? ブラックフェイスや人種的ステレオタイプのような非常に不快なものがどのように常態化され、メディアでよく見られるようになったのか?」


真崎嶺(Ray Masaki)は自費出版の日英バイリンガル本『サラリーマンはなぜサーフボードを抱えるのか?』で、こうした複雑な問いに答えようとする。本書に収録された6つのエッセイのなかでRayが向き合うのは、彼がこの4年間属してきた日本のデザイン業界における構造的な白人至上主義と西洋化の歴史と文脈だ。ニューヨーク出身の日系アメリカ人デザイナーであるRayは、2017年に自身のルーツである日本とのつながりを深めるために東京に拠点を移した。そこで彼は、すぐに身の回りのものに疑問をもち始め、同時にデザイナーとしての自身のアイデンティティや責任を問うようになったのである。





Ray Masaki

Charis Poon: How did your book come into being?


Ray Masaki: Living here as a Japanese American person is a unique experience, because I feel like I have access to parts of the culture that maybe a non-Japanese American foreigner wouldn’t have. It allows me to have conversations with both sides and, growing up as a bicultural person, I think it gives me a perspective to question things in a certain way.


There is definitely not just one thing that sparked me wanting to write this, but it’s something that’s been bubbling in the back of my head for a long time. When the Black Lives Matter protests started happening in America in 2020, there was a moment when I realized I have access to tools and an audience and I have something that I want to say and it felt very urgent to me.


So I wrote this essay a couple pages long and I sent it to Ian Lynam, a design educator who’s based in Tokyo and has lived here for over 15 years — he just knows everything about Japanese design history. He told me that the essay had legs, but I’d have to explain everything. If I backed it with research then people would take me more seriously.


But at the same time, I intentionally wrote it in my own voice. I wanted it to feel very accessible and I also didn’t want it to feel overly combative or critical of any particular culture. I thought that if I kept it in my voice and backed everything up with research, it could actually start some conversations.


Charis Poon: この本はどうやって書き始めることになったんだろう?


Ray Masaki: 日系アメリカ人として日本に住むのはユニークな体験なんだ。おそらくは日系アメリカ人ではない外国人にはアクセスできないような文化に触れることができるからね。それによって俺はどちら側の会話にも加わることができるし、バイカルチャルな人間として育ったことによって、ある種の疑問を投げかける視点を得ることができたと思っている







Charis: You worked on this book for the past year. Were there moments in it where you were discouraged or did you progressively build up energy for it?


Ray: I think there was a sense of urgency. 2020 was just such a fucked up year. I was feeling so anxious about everything and looking at the world and the direction it was heading, I was just so freaked out about it all. I felt like if I channeled it towards something that could potentially bring good, that it would help calm my anxieties a little.


I really felt that I needed to do something. You see your friends protesting in the streets in New York and you can’t even have those conversations here. It’s frustrating and isolating and you feel powerless in the face of everything. So I think this was a way for me to reclaim some sort of power in the situation.

Charis: Rayはこの1年間かけて本に取り組んできたんだよね。そのなかで挫折しそうになったことはあった? それとも、少しずつエネルギーを蓄えながら書くことができたのかな?


Ray: 急いで書かなくちゃ、という気持ちはあったと思う。2020年はめちゃくちゃな1年で、いろんなことが不安で、世界がどこに向かってしまうのかを考えると怖くてしょうがなかった。その気持ちを良い方向に向けられれば、少しでも不安を落ち着けられると思っていたかな。



Charis: I found that you were really generous and patient in your words. There were so many moments where you could have communicated frustration and anger and you didn’t. Did you have to tone anything differently or is this close to the original version of this material?


Ray: Initially it was a lot more critical and then I made a conscious decision to make it feel very even. Even in the design, I want it to be able to be in New York or London or Japan and opening it up, the experience should be very 50/50. I don’t want someone to think that it’s an American guy just bashing Japan or a Japanese guy being very critical of Western culture, even though I am to a certain degree critical of both.


There’s so much misunderstanding that comes from assuming one way of thinking is correct. Even in that one section where I talk about how a Japanese company ripped off Thinx, that period-proof underwear brand. There are things that feel wrong to me about it but I don’t actually know if it’s wrong fully, because I wasn’t born and raised here…


Did you watch that movie Midsommar?

Charis: わたしはエッセイを読んで、Rayの言葉はやさしくて我慢強いものだと思った。フラストレーションや怒りについて伝えることもできたはずなのに、そうしなかったよね。最初はもっと違うトーンだったのか、それともこれがオリジナルに近いものなのかといったらどっちだったんだろう?


Ray: 最初はもっと批判的なトーンだったんだけど、そのあと意識的にフラットな語り口に変えたんだ。デザインにしても、この本をニューヨークやロンドン、東京のどこで読んでも同じ体験になるようにしたかった。本のなかでは日本と欧米文化の両方をある程度は批判しているけれど、これを読んだ人に「アメリカ人が日本をバッシングしている」とか「日本人が欧米文化を批判している」とは思われたくなかった。





Charis: I don’t watch horror, but I know the plot. So what about Midsommar?


Ray: I personally really enjoyed that movie and it’s incredibly disturbing, but apparently it’s based on actual practices and traditions. Obviously, they’re pushing boundaries, but a central theme of the film is this knee-jerk reaction that happens in every culture where you’re thinking, “Well, this isn’t how my culture does it, so it’s wrong.”


When I first moved to Tokyo, I had this foreigner’s perspective on everything. I used to keep a note in my iPhone that was titled “Things that feel weird to me” and when I look back on it now it feels very cringey because there was this snow globe effect where I was an outsider looking in and even though I wasn’t sharing it publicly, I was poking fun at these things that felt bizarre to me. Who am I to say what’s weird or what’s wrong? If you live and grow up in that culture, that could be completely normal. I’m still processing things and I hope that comes through in the book as well, where I don’t try to be authoritative on anything.


It’s a difficult balance, because I think there are a lot of things where I’m still trying to figure out when it’s okay to say something’s wrong especially when there could be a context to it that I don’t fully understand. That’s part of why it emerged the way it did.

Charis: ホラーは観ないけど、あらすじは知ってる。『ミッドサマー』がどうしたの?


Ray: 個人的に映画はおもしろかったし、信じられないくらい衝撃的な内容だったけど、おそらくそこで描かれることは実際の[舞台となるスウェーデンの]慣習や伝統に基づいている。もちろん作品のなかでは明らかに度を越して描かれているんだけど、映画の核となるテーマはどの文化でも起こりうるお決まりの反応なんだ。つまり、「これは自分の文化のやり方じゃないから間違っている」と。





Charis: While you’re talking about evenness, I want to bring up the essay on collectivism. Your essay provided this perspective that neither individualism or collectivism is better than the other, that there are challenges and benefits from both. Reading it, I had that sense of having to confront prejudices within myself. Do you think there are going to be things that people haven’t realized about the way they think, that they subscribe to the ideas you describe?


Ray: That’s another part that I touch on too: ishiki ga takai, “high consciousness”. I think there are people who do recognize their biases and prejudices, but, to be honest, I’m hoping to reach the people who are going to have that reaction: “Wait, this could be about me.”


I started this conversation within my company around the time of the Black Lives Matter protests. I didn’t claim to know what’s going on, but I just wanted to hear what people had to say. One of my favorite reactions that came out of that conversation was from a Zoom breakout group and she said, “Wait, people are being killed? And police officers are doing that?”


It’s so fucking alien. Japanese cops don’t have to worry about anything. There’s no gun violence and crime is very rare. So the idea that anything like what’s happening in the States could even be possible is incredibly alien to a lot of Japanese people, so just introducing these ideas that inequality exists in the world… it’s weird. It’s weird because there’s such a privilege to being naive—these things can happen and you could be completely blind to it and you’re probably happier for it. Part of my message is to say we could also be affecting things, creating ripple effects that could affect someone over there that you don’t even realize, so I do think we have to be cognizant of what’s happening in the world, even if it feels better to not be.

Charis: 平等であることについて話したついでに、エッセイのなかで集団主義について書かれた内容についても話したいと思う。本のなかでは、個人主義と集団主義はどちらが優れているかではなく、どちらにも課題と利点があるということを書いているよね。それを読んで、わたしは自分のなかにある偏見と向き合わなければいけないという気持ちになった。Rayが書いたような考えに賛同している人のなかにも、自分の考え方について気づいていないところがあると思う?


Ray: それはエッセイのなかでも触れた「意識が高い」という話にも通じるところだね。自分のバイアスや偏見について認識している人もいるけれど、正直に言えば、「待てよ、これって自分のことかもしれない」という反応をする人たちにこの本を届けたいと思っているんだ。


ブラック・ライブズ・マターが始まった頃に会社のなかでこのトピックについて議論を始めたんだ。そのことについて自分が知っているからというよりも、みんなの意見を聞きたくて。俺のお気に入りの反応のひとつはZoomのブレークアウトグループである同僚と話したときのもので、彼女はこう言ったんだ。「待って、人が殺されてるの? 警察が殺しているの?」って



“In reference to this, one of my coworkers mentioned that there’s a saying in Japan, ‘the two things you can never talk about are politics and baseball.’ Furthermore, there’s a negative connotation associated with being too politically aware or socially conscious with the term 意識が高い (ishiki ga takai) which translates to ‘high consciousness.’ When someone is considered ishiki ga takai, they are often being described as slightly snobby or a know-it-all and it is seen as an unattractive quality.”

Excerpted from “Why is the salaryman carrying a surfboard?”



Charis: I thought to myself while reading that you might be considered ishiki ga takai, as the author of this book and publishing it. I wondered if you had any concerns, because you wrote about this possibility of ostracization regarding talking about politics and rocking the boat.


Ray: It’s funny, because I think my ideas on how I want to rock the boat are even more extreme. I think the idea of industry gatekeepers here in Japan is even more extreme than in America. I just think that things really need to change here. I suppose that sounds like it’s in opposition to what I was just talking about where I’m trying to be even about things, trying to accept both sides of the picture. At the same time that is something that I do feel strongly about.


I was talking with the person who helped me with the Japanese editing, Yuto Miyamoto, and telling him that I don’t have enough skin in the game in Japan to be afraid. People don’t know me so if I stir the pot, if they blacklist me, it doesn’t really matter, and that’s the system I’m trying to fight against anyways, so it’s not like I want to be part of it.


I feel like I’m in a freeing position to rock the boat, because what do I have to lose? I have a full time job; I have good job security. Maybe it’s a good opportunity to take advantage of that.

Charis: エッセイを読んで、Rayはきっと、この本を書いて出版する自分のことを「意識が高い」と捉えているんじゃないかと思ったんだ。政治的な話をして波風を立てることで、自分が追放されてしまうことは心配した?


Ray: おかしな話だけど、俺はもっと極端なかたちで波風を立てたいと思っているんだ。日本のクリエイティブ業界のゲートキーパーたちは、アメリカよりも変わりにくいと思うから。俺は本当に日本は変わる必要があると思ってる。これはいまさっき話した、物事を公平に見ること、両方の立場を受け入れることに反するように聞こえるかもしれない。でもそれと同時に、これは俺が強く感じていることでもある。




俺は自由に波風を立てられる立場にいるように思う。だって、どんな失うものがある? 俺にはフルタイムの仕事があるし、雇用も保障されている。このアドバンテージを活かさない手はないよね。

Charis: I don’t think either of us are saying even-handedness in a sense where you are not critical. I think a lot of your book is about understanding the history of why things are the way they are, looking back in time and saying, “Okay, this is how we got here and that’s why there are all these hidden, engrained problems.” That doesn’t mean we have to accept things as they are because they’ve been this way for over 100 years. Change is incredibly difficult, but you have to aspire to it.


You had talked about being critical of the Western design frameworks and system, which I appreciated you dealing with in your book. Your book could have been so much longer, covering all this material. How did you decide what essays to write and what to include?

Charis: たしかに「批判的でないこと」が公平というわけではないよね。本の内容の多くは、なぜ物事がこうなっているのかという歴史を理解するためのものだと思う。過去を振り返って、「OK、わたしたちはこうやっていまの状況にたどり着き、だからこそこんな隠れた問題があるんだ」と言うことでね。でも100年以上同じ状況が続いてきたからといって、それを受け入れなければいけないわけじゃない。変化を起こすことは本当に難しいけど、それを目指さないといけない。



Ray: I had even more but Ian really helped me whittle it down. I had a whole section just being critical of white people taking Asian shit. I had a whole essay about Cha Cha Matcha. These two white guys started a matcha brand and the branding and language they used around the brand is really corny. “I love you so matcha!” and “We connect with the preeminent cultivator in Uji… and start buying their ceremonial grade matcha in bulk.”


There’s a photo of one of the founders dressing up for a Halloween party in a geisha outfit and I’m thinking, “Man, fuck this guy.” So I had written this whole thing about it but it was very bitter. It was just angry and it didn’t really add to my conversation. I think the book covers that kind of thinking in a way that’s not as bitter.

Ray: 俺はもっと書こうと思っていたんだけど、イアンのおかげで内容を絞ることができたんだ。実は白人がアジア人をバカにすることを批判するために1パート書こうとしていたし、Cha Cha Matcha[ニューヨークの抹茶専門カフェ]についての内容もあった。Cha Cha Matchaは2人の白人が立ち上げたブランドで、ブランド名も彼らが使う言葉も本当に陳腐なんだ。「I love you so matcha(抹茶)!」とか、「宇治の優れた栽培者と知り合って……セレモニアル・グレード(儀式用)の抹茶を大量に購入し始めた」とかね。



Charis: Yeah, there are the things you write out of frustration and I think your editors must have done an excellent job guiding you towards what might be more productive or more persuasive to other people.


Ray: That’s true. There are enough people who are angry at white people and taking that stance. I think a unique part of what I was trying to write is that there are both sides to the coin.


The whole nature of the borrowing and recycling of cultural exports, where foreign ideas are adapted into new creations and then adapted again, is something that I’ve been thinking about a lot. It’s a facet of post-modernism and how the world is connecting. Everything is mutating all the time.


Looking at denim, it’s interesting that I only respected it once Japanese people were making it, even though it started with Levi’s. Denim culture in New York was very much about if you’re not buying Japanese selvedge you’re not a real head. It’s interesting how exotification is so cyclical.

Charis: フラストレーションのあまり書きすぎてしまうこともあるけど、イアンのアドバイスによってより生産的なもの、人々を説得できるものが書けたんだ。


Ray: そうだね。白人に対して腹を立てる人はたくさんいると思うけど、俺が書こうとしたことのユニークなところは「コインには両面がある」ということだと思う。





“The improvements and adjustments to the process and machinery motivated by American imitation ultimately helped to raise the international reputation and quality of not only the end product of Japanese denim jeans, but also the machinery and tools involved in the process. Some of Japan’s most unique cultural outputs come from utilizing Western technologies and incorporating traditional techniques and expertise, as in the case of “reducing” the effectiveness of their traditional indigo dying process.


Japanese-produced denim jeans became incredibly popular and far more affordable than the secondhand G.I. imports. Companies like Big John and Edwin would go on to create a market of pure Japanese jeans and even held leadership positions over licensed American products like Levi’s and Wranglers. Today, Japanese denim has completely come into its own as a unique cultural export and has become world-renowned for its high quality.” 

Excerpted from “Why is the salaryman carrying a surfboard?”





Charis: It’s hard to put into words. It makes me think about that difference between something that’s very surface level like Cha Cha Matcha versus denim, which in Japan was originally inspired by Levi’s but people went much deeper than coming up with the phrase “ceremonial grade”. They actually invented new processes.


I’ve started questioning how that applies to your own individual work as a designer. I’m not in the position to make a machine to create a different type of denim, but there has to be something that I can do that’s similar to that type of learning from another culture versus something that’s very surface level.


Ray: I think that’s an answer I’m searching for as well. I was thinking about that a lot while I was designing the book. It’s difficult having these very Western sensibilities and trying to approach design in that way and knowing that my indoctrination affects the way that I produce.


When I was designing the book, I was always thinking, “What does it mean for me to be a bicultural designer and creating a design object that’s about the intersection of cultures?” I haven’t found that perfect synthesis yet, but at least with the design of this book, I really thought about hierarchy and neutrality in terms of presenting things as equal. 


Something that I really cared about was the images. There’s only one image for both texts, so the typography is actually pretty complex because I had to create a baseline grid that would make it all line up. Japanese is naturally a more dense language because of the logographic aspects of kanji and other considerations. So I had to create a grid that would work for both languages so that the text would line up with the images at the same time.

Charis: 言葉にするのは難しいけど、Cha Cha Matchaのような表面的なものとデニムの違いは何だろうと考えさせられるね。日本のデニムはもともとはリーバイスにインスパイアされたものだけど、「セレモニアル・グレード」といった表現を思いつくよりもずっと深いところまでいっているし、新しい製造工程まで生み出している。




Ray: それは俺自身も探している答えだと思う。この本をデザインしているときによくそのことを考えたんだ。西洋的な感性をもちながら表面的ではないアプローチでデザインをすることや、自分のなかに染み付いた影響を知ることは難しかったけどね。





This is true for the type choices I made too. I chose Neue Haas Unica, but the one produced by Monotype because it was designed by Toshi Omagari and that typeface has kind of a weird story to it. The team that originally designed that typeface approached Linotype to re-release it, but they declined. Then Lineto created Unica 77 while talking to the original designers of the typeface, and while that was happening, Monotype was like, “Oh shit, we got to make it too.” Monotype then approached Toshi, a Japanese type designer, to quickly produce this typeface that Lineto was spending a long time developing.


Personally, I think Lineto’s version is more respectful because they actually spoke to the creators of the original typeface. However, I’m interested in knowing what Toshi was thinking as a Japanese type designer designing this typeface by Swiss people and producing it for a Western-oriented company. That’s just a weird micro-conversation that no one is going to pick up on, but to me there is a complexity to the typeface that speaks to the biculturality of the book itself as well.

それからどのタイプフェイスを選ぶかにもこだわった。Monotypeの「Neue Haas Unica」を選んだんだけど、これは大曲都市さんによってデザインされたもので、ちょっと変わったストーリーがある。もともとこの書体をデザインしたチームはLinotypeに再販することを頼んだんだけど、断られてしまった。その後Linetoが書体のオリジナルデザイナーと話しながら「Unica 77」をつくったんだけど、その間にMonotypeが「ヤバい、俺たちもつくんなきゃ」となった。そこでMonotypeが日本人のタイプデザイナーの大曲さんに声をかけて、Linetoが時間をかけて開発していたこの書体を早急に制作することになったんだ。



“For instance, in my American design education, history was mostly taught through a white, male, and often Eurocentric lens (e.g. Gutenburg inventing movable type as opposed to its invention in China; the glorification of Swiss International Style; the lasting influence of Vignelli modernism, etc.). Even after graduating, I was influenced by my peers in New York and on social media to admire the tradition of Dutch and Swiss design and especially the output of design programs like Yale, ECAL, and Werkplaats Typografie.


These programs and their respective commentary on design have had a large influence on my personal work. I’m not suggesting that these designers and programs aren’t worth noting in the canon of graphic design—not to mention the vast amount of postmodern/non-eurocentric practitioners and educators that have emerged from them—but it’s clear how large the role of education plays in terms of what can be considered good.” 

Excerpted from “Why is the salaryman carrying a surfboard?”





Charis: We went to Parsons together, which is interesting in this conversation because we had very similar Western design education experiences. This is a personal tangent, but when I was thinking about getting the Masters, I was going to pursue it here in Hong Kong. My parents encouraged me to look overseas because that was a good opportunity, in their opinion, to travel and have this experience abroad.


And I probably didn’t think about it as much as I could have, but I picked this university in London and it was only upon arriving there that I had this realization that I already did my undergraduate in the States and now I’m doing my Masters in London, but I work professionally in Asia. Your book brought back those feelings of complicitness, which I do want to interrogate within myself, but it becomes, as you say, very hard to disentangle from the work that you do.


Ray: I actually had a really similar epiphany. Two years ago I was kind of just over Japan. I applied to Yale and I was thinking about moving back to the U.S. and going to New Haven to do a Masters there. I got to the final interview and they were asking me about what I wanted to do and why this would be a good institution for what I’m trying to do. And in that moment I thought, “Man, I don’t even really want to go, because what I want to do is understand why I’m here in Japan”. And they said, “Yeah, that’s not something we can teach you so maybe you’re better off staying there.”


It’s a culture shock moving from the U.S. to Japan and a lot of Japanese American people think that they’re going to have this sense of belonging when they go back to their motherland, but it also just highlights how different they are from everyone else. Especially when you first move here, it’s kind of shocking because you see faces that look like yours but you feel so different from them. So it’s very isolating and I’m glad I stayed, but there are definitely times when I think I don’t belong here.


I was feeling really lonely and isolated. But that changed once I was able to be much more fluent in the language and actually communicate with people on a natural level. The conversations I have now are why I love being here—as corny as it sounds, I think the more I talk to Japanese people, the better I understand myself. It is really interesting for me to be able to understand my identity better and what parts of me do feel Japanese and investigate that.

Charis: こうした話をするときに、わたしたちがパーソンズで似たような欧米のデザイン教育を受けたというのはおもしろいよね。これは個人的な話になるけれど、わたしは香港で修士号をとろうと考えていたんだ。というのも、両親は「旅をして、海外に住む経験をするのはいい機会だから」と、海外に目を向けるように勧めてくれていたから。




Ray: 実は俺にも似たような経験があるんだけど、2年前になんとなく日本を離れていた時期があったんだ。その頃イェール大学に出願していて、アメリカに戻ってニューヘブンで修士号を取ろうと考えていた。その最終面接で、俺が何をやりたくて、なぜそのためにイェール大学がふさわしいのかを聞かれたんだ。それを聞かれた瞬間に、「俺がやりたいのは自分がなぜ日本にいるのかを理解することで、実は大学に行きたいわけじゃないじゃん」ってことに気づいた。それで面接をした人から、「それはわたしたちが教えられることではないから、君は日本に残ったほうがいいかもしれない」と言われたんだ。





Charis: Is there something specific about this project in particular, doing the research and writing for it, that affected your understanding of yourself?


Ray: Oh, absolutely. I think this is my favorite thing I’ve ever done. The thing I don’t like about the New York graphic design scene, at the time that I was leaving, there was kind of a cult of aesthetic or style where I feel like you had to have something ownable to be respected. That’s just another part of capitalism, where you have to have something ownable so that you can market it, so that someone can purchase that as a commodity.


For me, this was the first time that I was in a mode of thinking that felt unique and healthy to me. It’s the first time in a while where I felt value in my choice of profession and how the lens through which I view things was my value over having a unique ownable style.


I think I was just very burnt out by the industry in general, so doing something that was incredibly personal to me helped me understand why I think about certain things, and then actually digging into the history of those things was so fascinating. There are so many things that feel natural until you question them and then you go back and you can see how the roots connect. Even talking to my mom about reading that racist book [Chibikuro Sambo] when I was a kid, it was really interesting because I made these connections that I hadn’t previously.

Charis: このプロジェクトを通してリサーチや執筆を行ったことで、自分自身についての理解に影響を与えたことはあるのかな?


Ray: もちろん。この本を書くことは、いままでやったことのなかでいちばん好きなことだったね。俺がニューヨークを離れた頃には、ニューヨークのデザイナーとして尊敬されるためには自分だけの美意識やスタイルをもっていないといけないと思っていて、それはニューヨークのグラフィックデザイン界について好きじゃないところだった。これは単に資本主義の一側面で、誰かに商品として買ってもらうためには、所有できるものを持たなければいけないということだ。





 Charis: What outcomes do you want to see from this?


Ray: I think about my disappointment in and anxiety about capitalism, the role of graphic design, and my role as a designer in what kind of systems I’m feeding.


I want to figure out an alternative practice method where I can feel like I’m contributing to something. I think a lot about design and the cultural impact of it and I wonder what happens if you use that lens and shine it on something else other than marketing and advertising. I think that perspective can be extrapolated to have all sorts of conversations.


Ultimately, I think education is where you can actually affect something larger than yourself or even larger than your community. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to do more of this kind of thing more thoughtfully and then engage with an actual community.

Charis: この本を通してどんなことを期待しているんだろう?


Ray: 考えているのは資本主義に対する失望と不安、グラフィックデザインの役割、そして自分がデザイナーとしてどんなシステムに加担しているのかということ。





“Now is the time for the industry to change from the inside out, taking a micro-to-macro approach. This change begins with peer-to-peer education and discourse. Not only is it valuable to educate ourselves on the ripple effects of cultural appropriation and shallow stereotyping, it’s important to be able to speak to our peers and colleagues and educate each other without judgement when we see something culturally insensitive taking place.


This uncomfortable hurdle is necessary for us to feel more accountability towards our own work as well as the creative industry overall. The Japanese design industry is largely driven by consensus, and now is the time for us to question our decisions and acknowledge the effect it can have on not just ourselves and our own society, but also on people across the globe.” 

Excerpted from “Why is the salaryman carrying a surfboard?”





Charis: You end the book with a section on how to take action and thinking beyond. You say in the conclusion, “it may feel daunting”, which I believe is going to be true for readers. What are the next steps that a Japanese creative person could take?


Ray: Honestly, this is the part of the book that I struggle with the most. When I wrote it I didn’t believe it myself, because Japan moves so slowly that change comes over generations. Even when I read it now, the least convincing part is when I talk about trying to change large conglomerate agencies and affect change on a governmental level.


I still don’t know what the answer to that is. They don’t really have an incentive to change right now and that’s why I used that micro-to-macro approach instead. Part of the reason I started the book was because I wanted to have this conversation within my company, which is a very micro level.


My Japanese editor was saying that it was almost like a social art experiment. You could get a sense for whether Japan is ready to have this conversation. The thing he said that was funny was suggesting the possibility where my book doesn’t get read by Japanese people but instead it’s talked about in America, and then Japanese people read it because it’s talked about in America. It would kind of prove my point.


This is my hope; if someone were to read this book, I hope they could just talk to their friend about it. And then maybe that friend has an opportunity to talk to their company or another small group of friends. I just want a conversation to start.

Charis: 本の最後では、アクションの起こし方、そして未来に向けて何ができるかを考えているよね。その結論として「[変化を起こすのは]困難に感じるかもしれない」と書いているけれど、それは読者にとって本当のことだと思う。日本のクリエイティブ業界の人たちがとるべき次のステップは何だろう?


Ray: 正直なところ、この部分が本のなかでいちばん苦労したところなんだ。日本は変化を起こすのが遅くて、何世代もかけてしか変わっていかない。だからこれを書いたときには、俺自身も変化を起こせるか信じられなかった。いま読んでも、巨大なコングロマリット広告企業を変えようとしたり、政府レベルで影響を与えるというところは、最も説得力がない部分だと思う。







David Kenji Chang talks with the founder in his LA studio and new shop to talk about his life’s work and staying weird in a weird world.