Ryoma Furutani’s World Is Bright, Shiny and Totally Impenetrable
Like his work, the photographer is friendly but totally illusive.
On the surface Ryoma Furutani's work is direct and unfussy. Shooting largely around Osaka, Japan, he favors bold lines and colors—a tap, a light, a street sign. But after repeated viewing they feel increasingly enigmatic. Nothing is explained or contextualized. He's slow to offer more than "#minimal #minimalism #simple" in his captions. Conversations with him follow the same themes. Although polite, responsive, and easy to chat to it was only after the interview that I realized how little he'd given away. Like his work, he's friendly but totally illusive.
VICE: How does photography fit into your life?
Ryoma Furutani: Photography is something I do to satisfy my creative urges. To tell the truth, I didn't take photos with iPhone very often before. To me it feels like photographic recording. But now I enjoy it.
Why use an iPhone though?
I don't have to think about technical things—exposure or distance—when I shoot and can get enough quality. I just care about composition.
What other things do you look for in a photo besides color and composition?
I look for shapes, lines, patterns, textures, natural lights and shadows.
What do you do besides photography?
I love music so I listen to music, cook, go clubbing, drink with my friends, or do something creative. I occasionally use my photos as materials and create simple graphic design or collage. Currently I'm a full-time worker and I mainly retouch photos and edit videos for advertising or promotion.
Does your retouching work influence your photography?
I observe photos closely and I try to find a good and bad part when I do retouching. For example: What are their charm points? Oh, he has nice thick eyebrows, or the color of her eyes are amazing so let's enhance that. When I shoot outside or crop pictures, I think it's kind of the same process. I walk around and find my favorite part from street and capture it.
What makes your style different to other photographers?
I focus on colors and I try to make composition simple and flat as possible as I can.
Your photography is very carefully composed, almost like graphic design. Are you influenced by any graphic designers?
I like graphic design but I don't have any favorite graphic designers at the moment. I guess I'm influenced by flat design which is the one of the recent web design trends.
What attracts you to flat design?
It's dynamic, sophisticated, and beautiful. It's very easy to create simple design but it's very difficult to create attractive simple design. Maybe I'm attracted to the exquisite balance of flat design.
What attracted you to minimalism?
Simpleness. Simpleness adapts to everything and is timeless. It brings out the appeal of colors and objects. I think this is why I'm attracted by minimalism.
What makes Osaka a special city for photography?
Osaka is energetic. People tend to like flashy taste. To be honest, I sometimes think it's too much. Google "supermarket Tamade." Osaka is full of colors.
Does the maximal design of of things like Super Tamade feel overwhelming?
No, I think I have a flexible mind. Or should I say, I have an open mind? Maximal design is a kind of spice to me.
Interviewed by Ben Thomson. Follow him on Instagram.