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Artist Interview: TIDE

January 6, 2021
8 min read
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TIDE is an emerging name in the art scene both in Japan and internationally. Since 2009, his palette consisted mostly of monochrome colours. Recently, TIDE had his first solo exhibition ‘DEBUT’ (2020) in Harajuku, Japan.

While his cat-inspired work has been gaining increasing popularity in the international art scene, I had the chance to interview TIDE to discuss his oeuvres and talk about it conceptually and technically, as well as getting an overview of the artistic influences behind his work.

Rom Levy: To begin, can you tell me a little about yourself and your background?

TIDE: My real name is TATSUHIRO IDE, but I work as TIDE by combining the first letter of my first name and my family name. I began to paint while I stayed in Australia at the age of 22, and when I was 24, I started my career as a painter based in Tokyo.

Could you please describe your work process in terms of composing an image as well as a technical approach to creating the work.

For the cat and bedroom series I’m mainly drawing at the moment, after deciding the position and posing of the character, I roughly decide the bedding, furniture, and background after which I compose a draft. I value the harmony of the curves, straight lines, and silhouettes of each part.

The painting process is the reverse of the draft, starting with the background and finally finishing with the character. I change matiere in each part, and each layer has a change. For example, I spray the outside of the window to express abstract elements, and the window frame is represented by rough brush strokes to express wood grain. In addition, I use an airbrush for the bedding to create a delicate atmosphere.

Let’s talk about your current subjects. What inspired them, and what are your source materials?

The influence of the work covers a wide range of topics, but the heaviest inspiration is the works of Japanese manga artist Shigeru Mizuki. I have been familiar with the Yokai he drew since I was a child, and in particular, my encounter with his work “Nonnonba” inspired me to draw a picture. As for recent materials, I often refer to animations from the 30s to 50s, scenes from old Hollywood movies, manga magazines, and still life around me.

How long have you been developing this visual language?

It was 10 years ago that I started drawing and aspiring to be a painter. At first, I used pointillism to draw trees and imaginary landscapes, but about two years later, I started pencil drawing, and mainly produced imaginary seascapes for 5-6 years. During that time, I also tried a little watercolor painting, and I started the acrylic painting which is my current drawing style about two years ago.

In the beginning, I painted the stuffed animal my daughter had very precisely on a monochromatic background, but reversing that relationship I got to my current style of letting a flat character juxtapose together in the elaborate background.

About your color palette, can you tell me more about the reason you chose to paint in greyscale and would you consider anything else?

I don’t even know the real reason myself.

Maybe it is because I started drawing inspired by cartoons drawn in monochrome, or because using a lot of colors probably exceeds the capacity of my technique. However, I feel it is most beautiful to draw my work in grayscale. When the color scheme, density, area, and balance and rhythm of black, white, and grey are in harmony, the painting looks like it’s shining.

One thing I can say for sure is that it becomes unclear blurry when other colors get in there.

Speaking of art history, do you have a particular artist or art movement that influences or inspires you?

One is Roy Lichtenstein. His flat works are an important element of my current style. On the contrary, Christopher Wool is also a significant figure to me. His attitude towards art is my mental support of my creative activities. In addition, it is because of Takashi Murakami’s concept of Superflat that I can draw a character as a Japanese artist and announce it as a piece of art.

As a Tokyoite, how is your relation to the local street culture?

There may not be much relation. I tried skateboarding, but it didn’t take root in my current life. However, I long for street culture that appears as an expression of emotions.

Have you ever been intrigued to transfer your studio work onto a mural / public art ?

I’m interested in any field of expression that I have never tried. Facing mural paintings would require a different kind of mental toughness from canvas. It would be an opportunity to provide feedback to canvas works by exploring new ways of drawing and new processes.

I am interested in the ephemerity of paintings, do you view your own work as precious? If you are unhappy with a work, do you tend to desstroy it or would you rather put it in storage for a while and alter them at a later date?

There is always a correct piece which will complete my artwork. I will continue to paint until I find it. I talked about how paintings ‘shine’, and I keep working on it until I feel that way.

Let’s talk about the work you are making for 2021. What type of works are you preparing? Does it connect to previous works, or did you try something new?

Every time I draw new work, I always try new things even if they are small. I will continue to make the CAT series, but at the same time, I will use trial and error to show the next stage.

There are also ideas for other themes, so you can see a series of works that go one step further in 2021.

Will you be showing your work somewhere any time soon? Any other plans for the foreseeable future?

The schedule has already been roughly decided until 2022, but in the near future, it seems that there will be an opportunity to show my artwork next spring.

How else will you be keeping yourself busy this Christmas Season?

Everyday life will continue without anything in particular. However, it is my favorite season of the year. The atmosphere of the city is calm and I feel very comfortable just looking out the window. Happy Holidays.

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