John Hathway is an artist, illustrator, character designer, story planner, and scientist with a post-graduate degree in Physics from the prestigious University of Tokyo. He is best known for his intricate, mind-bending manga art based on both science and science fiction.
He has taken part in many high-profile art projects all over the world, including “JUXTAPOZ X SUPERFLAT” which was curated by world-renowned artist and designer Takeshi Murakami, pixiv’s Zingaro exhibition, Google+’s Electric Lolita project, and Yahoo JAPAN’s The Mother of Internet project – a massive multimedia isntallation that exists online and on the streets of Shibuya’s famous Scramble Crossing.
With his upcoming participation in Jakarta’s Creators Super Fest, John took time out from his busy schedule to answer a few questions in this exclusive interview with WOW Japan.
Please introduce yourself.
My name is John Hathway. However, I am Japanese. I draw illustrations based on subculture and do art creation, as well as robotics, software, hardware, stories, and a lot of different things.
What got you started on art?
Living in Japan, I have always lived with art and manga. At the same time, I have also always liked science – robot demos and science expos and limited-run international exhibitions. I’ve been brought to see them since I was very little, and I have been raised with these scientific images in my head.
Concurrently, I have loved anime and manga. When I was in high school and in university, I kept drawing manga, and at the same time constructing Tesla coils and similar devices by myself. I became very interested in research into anti-gravity; I have become very involved in all sorts of studies into electronics, including UFOs and space ships – I really want to be able to build one.
Taking those occurrences into consideration, creating illustrations has become a way of bringing science fiction into life. While I was at the University of Tokyo studying to earn my post-graduate degree in Physics, I became very torn on which path to take. At around the age of 25 or 26, I decided that instead of science, it was really science fiction that I was interested in.
I decided to halt my research work and started creating art instead. To this day, I have been creating works based anti-gravity, and similar science fiction-based work. It was this decision that led me to creating even more works based on science or scientific images – including a special vacuum-tube headphone that I designed and built myself.
With the vacuum-tube headphone as a base, I created artwork with this girl wearing the headphone as the focus and part of the interface — with science-fiction gadgets like metals and lathes. The internal circuits of the headphones were also created by me. I designed these and had a contractor help me make them. Science is really what drives my creativity – not just with art, but with my world view as well.
What is your biggest influence as an artist?
Mad science (laughs). The scientist — or rather this mad scientist — who discovered anti-gravity, named John Hutchison, has built many Tesla coils, and has used them to move objects with anti-gravity. At the same time, he had a colleague who was doing research work in the same lab named George Hathway. That’s how I got the name John Hathway, and that’s also how I was introduced to the world of anti-gravity. Science and science fiction have such a huge influence on my work.
Where would you like to go for your next overseas exhibition?
I would really be happy to go anywhere. This time I am headed for Indonesia, and I am looking forward to that very much. I am very keen on travelling in Asia. This year, I have been to Taiwan, and last year I visited Hong Kong. They were mainly holidays. But about ten years ago, I took part in a Hong Kong douijin event, as well as a Taiwanese doujin event called fancy Frontier. I applied for a table myself, because I wasn’t very popular back then.
Do you have any advice for aspiring artists?
In the beginning, I was heavily influenced by other creators when drawing my illustrations. But you should always keep in the mind the place where you live, and the way you were brought up, if you place a lot of value in that, and combine them, you will be able to come up with interesting concepts that no other person can do – something a Japanese artist cannot do. So I really look forward to that.
Please give a message for your fans waiting for you at CSF.
It’s not just art and illustrations that we will be showing to everyone in Indonesia, but also other creations, so it will make us very grateful if people could come. We will also be showing WIP videos, and even if I am embarrassed to show them because compared to other talented people who work very fast, I use trial and error to create art (should I do this or should I do that), I hope that people are entertained by the process.
I hope that the thought that goes into creating art, and the process that goes into creating art, can be conveyed to the viewers even if I myself am not in the video. It’s a first for me as well, so I am very grateful that people have come all this way to see it.
Get ready to see some of John Hathway’s original art tapestries, and purchase some limited-edition books from his very exclusive print runs, only at Creators Super Fest 2017! CSF 2017 is slated for the 29th and 30th of April 2017 at the Pullman Grand Ballroom, in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Creators Super Fest is an event where local creators get to showcase and sell their independent works to the wide market directly, while learning from industry figures invited to the event! Find out more at the official CSF 2017 website at http://creatorsuperfest.com/