Location: Anime NYC 2022
Interview Date: 11/18/2022
Editor: Samantha Ferreira
Anime Herald: You started as a graffiti artist. Did you ever imagine you’d become a professional artist with art books and more?
Acky Bright: I couldn’t imagine. My artworks going all over the world was unimaginable to me back then.
Anime Herald: How did you move from doing graffiti to more traditional art?
Acky Bright: I just kept drawing. It was more my transformation, the development of my drawing, rather than me moving from one medium to another.
Anime Herald: What is your favorite medium to work in? Do you prefer digital, or working with your hands on paper?
Acky Bright: I don’t have any preference. If I had to say, it would be pen and paper. Technically, I just love drawing. So long as I can draw a line, that’s all that matters to me.
Anime Herald: Do you still feel the same passion from a blank piece of paper that you could draw on that you felt as a kid?
Acky Bright: It hasn’t changed at all. It’s always there.
Anime Herald: Your Vision Gate Piece, “Tokyo Theme Park,” is that what Tokyo is to you or what you imagine it to be like for foreign tourists?
Acky Bright: MoMA gave me the initial idea. Tokyo, to me, is like a theme park. When they first arrive in Narita or Haneda or any other airport in Japan, I want them to have this enthusiasm “Oh, I’m going to explore the city of Tokyo!” just like you’d have if you were arriving at Disneyland. I wanted to have that kind of excitement, so I put those elements and essence into the piece.
Anime Herald: You did a version of “Optimus Prime” for Hasbro. What was your process for working with such a well-established character?
Acky Bright: The most important thing was not to disappoint the original fans of the character. Keeping that in mind, I put my tastes into the character. Not 100%. Instead of doing that, I first made sure not to disappoint the fans and then worked it around to suit my tastes.
Anime Herald: Speaking of putting your tastes into the character, are you a fan of kabuki?
Acky Bright: I love kabuki so much.
Anime Herald: Who are your current favorites?
Acky Bright: My father worked with the kabuki industry in Kyoto. Usually, Tokyo is the main area, but we have a kabuki company in Kyoto as well. My father worked with them, and at that time Nakamura Umenosuke worked there. He played a signature role in a famous samurai series.
(Editor’s note: I believe the series is “Kashin,” and this was Nakamura Umenosuke IV.)
Anime Herald: Can you talk about how Katsuya Terada and Akira Toriyama affected you as an artist? What did you take from them or learn from them?
Acky Bright: I was always a huge fan of Toriyama-san. Dragon Ball was the biggest series from my childhood. I’ve drawn all of those characters from Dragon Ball. One of the reasons why I created B/W (black and white artworks) was because of Toriyama-san’s artworks.
Acky Bright: The way Terada-san worked is he kept drawing over and over and over. How he lived as an artist, or even as a human, I so admired. That’s partly why I do these live drawing sessions.
Anime Herald: This is going to be a bit sad. There was supposed to be a live drawing from Kim Jung-Gi at New York Comic Con. I saw he retweeted you multiple times. Did you know him personally, or did you know him well as an artist?
Acky Bright: King Jung-Gi and Terada-san are two of my most admired people. I’ve worked with Terada-san before. I had hopes of working with Kim Jung-Gi because of all the connections we had. Unfortunately, he passed away. I’m quite down due to him not being here anymore. A lot of people have mentioned his name. It still makes me sad to hear it.
Anime Herald: I understand, he was a legend. Switching gears, are you reading any manga or watching any anime these days?
Acky Bright: I’m too busy to read other artists’ works these days.
Anime Herald: Do you have any questions for us?
Acky Bright: I’m so grateful to be interviewed by American publishers or people. A lot of my fans happen to be American. I don’t quite understand why Americans are attracted to my work.
Anime Herald: We like it because it’s good.
Acky Bright: Thank you.
Anime Herald: Art is universal. Art translates.
Acky Bright: I have more fans in America than in Japan. I was wondering why that is the case.
Anime Herald: That’s interesting.
Acky Bright: It was a company in America that found me first. Afterward, a German company and DC comics offered me a job. Now I get quite a lot of offers within Japan as well, but compared to international offers, there’s more from outside of Japan.
Anime Herald: There are a lot of foreigners in this world, and only so many Japanese companies.
Acky Bright: (Laughs)
Anime Herald: Thank you very much.