Toshinori Mori

Specialized in Graphic Design.

Toshinori Mori

About Toshinori Mori

He is a freelance illustrator in Japan. He was born in Mitoyo City, Kagawa Prefecture and now live in Nagaoka City, Niigata Prefecture. He draws the "Tabineko" illustration series, which is modeled on the domestic cat "Guri" (10-year-old tabby cat) and an outside cat coming to the garden. The "Tabineko" illustration series depicts beautiful Japanese four seasons and a cat that travels, starting with the 12 pieces exhibited at the "Calendar Exhibition" in 2011, and has drawn 42 pieces to date. He sells calendars, postcards, art prints, etc. based on this illustration online at handmade marketplaces such as Etsy, pinkoi, minne, and Creema. Recently, a one-year-old cat called "Sabi" has joined the family.

  • Winner of the A' Design Award.
  • Specialized in Graphic Design.
  • Original Design.
  • Creative, Diligent and Innovative.
  • All Designs
  • Graphic
Tabineko Illustration Calendar

Tabineko Illustration Calendar

Graphic Design

Good Design Deserves Great Recognition

Nominate Your Work for the A' Design Award.


Interview with Toshinori Mori

Could you please tell us more about your art and design background? What made you become an artist/designer? Have you always wanted to be a designer?
When I was a junior high school student, my teacher asked me to draw a picture for a New Year's card, and I drew a picture of "the mouse family". The teacher gladly used the picture for New Year's cards. At that moment. I think I wanted to be an illustrator in the future. When I was a high school student, I posted a picture of a motorcycle in the illustration posting section of a motorcycle magazine. I was so happy that I saw that page many times. At that time I was going to be a motorcycle illustrator. After all, I am now an illustrator of cats. ^_^
Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
My studio is on the second floor (4mx6m) of my home. There is a long table by the window with two Macs and two monitors. Next to one Mac is a Victor amp and an NHT speaker. Behind the Vitra chair are four EPSON printers PM4000-PX, two PX-SVs beside and one SC-PXSV. It's a studio like a printing workshop. The other table has a large cutter mat. This is a workbench for making calendars.
What is "design" for you?
Expressing the "abstract emotions deep in my heart" as forms.
What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
I like various designs. When I was a kid, I really liked Osamu Tezuka and Shinji Nagashima's comics. I also liked the tower of the sun of "Taro Okamoto seen at the Osaka Expo". When I was a high school student, I liked "Motorcycle Illustration" by Mr. Kimitoshi Honma who posted illustrations. At university, he is obsessed with "Bron Yoshimoto" and "Kazuo Kamimura". ince becoming a vocational school student, my favorite designs in graphic design, fashion design and architecture have increased. When I started working, I was influenced by cute character designs such as "Miffy", "Snoopy" and "Moomin". Also, I was greatly influenced by the movie works of "Studio Ghibli". Recently, I like Japanese painters such as "Ito jyakuchu", "Kano Eitoku" and "Ogata Korin", painters of the Edo period.
What was the first thing you designed for a company?
It is a small clock "Hacodokei" made of cardboard. Design your own and order punching from a contractor. Doing everything from assembling the box to attaching the needle, Do the silk print on the front dial yourself, The instruction manual was printed and sold as an original design product.
What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
I like paper. Platform is Mac & EPSON printer Technology is Amazon Music
When do you feel the most creative?
When deciding the color. I feel that my five senses are fully rotated.
Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
Is there a feeling of air you want to express? Is there love for the cats?
What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
An uncertain anxiety about whether it will be finished well. The fun that everyone will be surprised to see this.
What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
It's a pleasure to be released from the solitary and lonely work that has been done so far.
From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
Do not design for the benefit of clients. Keep in mind the earth-first design.
How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
The world will be closed due to COVID-19, and I think the next era different from the past will come. I don't know if it can be called evolution. I think that there will be a trend to cherish more human feelings rather than robots, and I think that the design orientation will go there as well. We need a design that expresses hope.
When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?
The last solo exhibition was the “Tabineko Nagaoka Exhibition 2020” held in October 2019 at the soy sauce warehouse in Nagaoka City, Niigata Prefecture. Due to COVID-19, the next date is unknown.
Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
I often get inspired when riding a bicycle in nature. Also, I often come up with ideas while bathing.
How would you describe your design style? What made you explore more this style and what are the main characteristics of your style? What's your approach to design?
The design style is an illustration series depicting cats traveling in the four seasons. I tried to express the "feeling of happiness" I felt in a place I liked, and this was the style. It features a gentle color and the cute gestures of the cats. I use vivid colors that are not real colors to represent the wind, clouds, and light that flow in the space. We value the realities we feel, not the realities we see.
Where do you live? Do you feel the cultural heritage of your country affects your designs? What are the pros and cons during designing as a result of living in your country?
I live in Nagaoka City, Niigata Prefecture, Japan. Nagaoka City is one of the most heavy snowfall areas in Japan and is the largest rice producing area in Japan (Koshihikari). It is also the region with the most sake breweries in Japan. In other words, nature is rich, the four seasons are clear, the rice field landscape is wide, and there are quaint sake breweries here and there. I often see landscapes of paddy fields, satoyama plants, old sake breweries, etc. in my illustrations of Tabinneko. The landscape of this area has been very influential. The advantage of living here is that if you ride a little bike, there is a satoyama blessed with rich nature. It's a motif for my illustration and it's a peace of mind. The disadvantage is that you can see a low level of ability because it is a rural area. I think there are only great creators in Tokyo. That's not true. The real creators are in the snowy countryside, which is rich in nature.^_^
How do you work with companies?
We collaborate with companies that make calendars, postcards and sake. We sell the "Tabineko" illustration commercialization rights to each company for a limited time.
What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
First, without mutual trust, the project will not work. Designers are not subcontractors of companies. You should think of it as an equal relationship. In the middle of designing, don't cut it because you do the rest. That's not a good product. The eyes that designers see are completely different from yours.
Can you talk a little about your design process?
1. First, select the photo of the scenery that is the background key from "iphoto". 2. Open it in "photoshop" and add the necessary things (such as interesting clouds and seasonal flowers) from another photo to solidify the image. 3. Decide what kind of pose you want your cat to look for in a close-up cat picture from your stock photos. If not available, we may search online or on TV programs. 4. When you have a rough completed image, print it out, make a rough sketch on the tress, and tress it while simplifying and draw a line drawing with a pencil. 5. Scan the completed line drawing and import it into "Illustrator" to make a line drawing. Color from the rough part. 6. Once the color is decided, apply the "rough" effect to the painted parts one by one to make the edges jagged. 7. Color the cat by tressing it. Complete the entire layout. 8. Print it on the printer and recheck the colors and composition. If it is not what you expected, adjust it by adjusting the printer color. 9. If you don't get the desired color after adjusting or you don't like the layout, go back to the original data and correct it. 10. Repeat this several times to complete.
What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
1 Vitra T Chiea 2 Sevenchi Air 3 The car Suzuki SX-4 4 innovator sofa stuns 5 Louis Garner Bicycle Trx-2
Can you describe a day in your life?
I woke up around 10am, washed my face, made coffee and went to the studio (on the second floor). Confirm the ordered product that was delivered during the night and reply. Produce (print) custom products. Write the address or print the address sticker for overseas and package. lunch Also in the afternoon, production and packing of custom products (calendars, postcards, art prints) Around 3 o'clock, drive to a nearby post office and ship. After coming back and drinking coffee, I took a walk on a bicycle. Ride the satoyama near about 30 minutes (about 12 km). Return to the studio. Check the SNS page. Write a reply or post a new article. dinner Check new orders to create custom products, create new product images to update your online shop, and start your next "Tabineko Illustration". Create block copy data for alcohol labels. Consider the layout of a solo exhibition. Consider the answer to this interview. Play with cats. Watch the Prime Video. Order unsatisfactory materials from Amazon. Around 2:00, take a bath and go to bed. At 4 o'clock, the cat wakes me up. Put cat rice and clean the toilet. Bread and cafe au lait breakfast that's all
Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
Life is shorter than you think. If I were still young, I was 60 years old. Do what you want to do now. Life is as long as you think. There are decades. How many days will there be? The day will continue to accumulate. In one day that seriously faced the design and one day that spent 40 years in the game, After 40 years there will be a big gap. If you seriously face each other for 40 years, there will be something that you can see. That is certain.
From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
Designers can own the copyright of their original work. Designers are not profitable for their working hours.^_^
What is your "golden rule" in design?
I don't think there is such a fixed golden rate in design. I think it is important to decide the design in consideration of the balance with the surrounding circumstances at that time.
What skills are most important for a designer?
Sense of color Ability to think and find answers, not knowledge
Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
LOUIS GARNEA Bicycle TRX-2 RICOH camera GXR APPLE Mac mini EIZO monitor Adobe Illustrator photoshop EPSON printer SC-PX3V
Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
I don't manage very well. ^_^ Prioritize and do what I can.
How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
It depends on the situation of other work at that time. Depending on the content of the picture, a complicated illustration will take about a month.
What is the most frequently asked question to you, as a designer?
How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end? How much is the design fee?
What was your most important job experience?
When I was younger, I was designing toys at Design Production. Here, we design everything from planning to presentation sketching, product design of products, instruction manual design, package design, promotional material design, etc. from the beginning to the end. My work experience here has had a major impact on my subsequent design.
What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
I like crafts. So it's most fun to make a piece that you can cut and paste.
What are your future plans? What is next for you?
First, make an illustration calendar for 2021. The next step is to find out about selling A2 picture frame works by opening a store in Amazon.
Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?
The illustration of "Tabineko" was used for the sake label. It is a sake named "Sake that travels the four seasons." Spring and summer liquors are currently on sale. Alcohol for autumn and winter will be released later this year.
How can people contact you?
Please contact us from the "Contact Us" page of the "Tabinneko" site, or contact us directly by email.
Any other things you would like to cover that have not been covered in these questions?
For overseas, we sell our products on Etsy, a handmade market site. Please take a look at them once.

Extended Interview with Toshinori Mori

Could you please tell us about your experience as a designer, artist, architect or creator?
I enrolled in the mechanical department of the university, but thought that it didn't suit me, dropped out and re-entered the graphic design department of a vocational school of design. I learned there for two years. So I haven't learned the specialized knowledge like I would at an art university. After purchasing a personal computer (Mac) personally, I learned how to use Illustrator and Photoshop from books.
How did you become a designer?
I've always liked drawing and crafting since I was a kid. I also understood that I had such a talent by winning prizes in contests. But I didn't think it would be a job in the future. One day when I was living a day-and-night reversal at university, I bought a book with a design that caught my eye, and I was impressed when he got a work of “Ayao Yamana” that had illustrations such as Shiseido drawn there. I entered a vocational school where I was the president. After that I got a job as a designer and became independent and worked on the project in front of me. I designed various things. However, from the age of 50, I started to question the idea of designing to help with consumption. So I started to draw original illustrations. I am currently drawing an illustration because there are people who are happy with this drawing.
What are your priorities, technique and style when designing?
I can't say either. I think there was a flow of both. I haven't worked in a blessed environment as a designer. I worked on various projects desperately thinking that I could only do this job to eat. Now I understand that I was born to paint. I was destined to do this job.
Which emotions do you feel when designing?
I am currently drawing works that will please everyone, but in the future I would like to make more art-oriented works. I think it will be a more abstract work with a more personal theme.
What particular aspects of your background shaped you as a designer?
A good design cannot be done just by sitting in front of a desk. Opening the five senses in nature and feeling what it means to be beautiful and what it means to be happy. The role of the designer is to think about how to make people happy.
What is your growth path? What are your future plans? What is your dream design project?
Good designers work for companies. Distinguishes designer works for the consumers.
What are your advices to designers who are at the beginning of their career?
I think that a design that feels the designer's intention (I design according to this policy) is an excellent design.
You are truly successful as a designer, what do you suggest to fellow designers, artists and architects?
I think this is because I feel "happy and rich" by being able to own these products. I think that "happiness and abundance" is different depending on the person...
What is your day to day look like?
If I have enough time, I would like to make an "artistic cat" by cutting out cardboard and assembling it. By being in space, it is a kind of object that can leave everyday life and make you feel "free" for a while. It's for myself, for cat lovers, and for art lovers.
How do you keep up with latest design trends? To what extent do design trends matter?
I would like to expand the picture of Tabineko to the actual size, and make a three-dimensional work by arranging each layer with a gap. So to speak, a full-scale "Tabineko" landscape. One can then actually enter the world of "Tabineko".
How do you know if a product or project is well designed? How do you define good design?
The person making the product doesn't know whether the finished design will be finished as expected. Of course, I design with all the power I have, but there is no guarantee that it will get high marks. So, I spend most of my day in stoic. I don't want to waste my luck outside of design.
How do you decide if your design is ready?
The manga by Osamu Tezuka, which I read when I was a child, was a big influence. When I was a high school student, I once posted an illustration in a motorcycle magazine. I was also greatly influenced by the bike illustration of "Kimitoshi Honma," who was the winner at that time. I was also influenced by the manga artists “Yoshimoto Baron” and “Kazuo Kamimura” who had become college students. After becoming a toy designer, I adored designers who draw cute characters such as "Dick Bruna", "Charles Monroe Schulz" and "Tove Marika Jansson". Also, I was very much influenced by the movie work of "Hayao Miyazaki". However, my current favorite is "Matisse". ^_^
What is your biggest design work?
I mentioned "Matisse" in the question above, but I can't say why I like Matisse's work. He says he likes the five senses inside me. I think he's in a "state" where a talented artist can make a tremendous effort and finally get to it. Isn't it because it comes from the work?
Who is your favourite designer?
As I said, I am attracted to the work of "Matisse". That's because his work makes me feel the essence of art.
Would you tell us a bit about your lifestyle and culture?
I worked hard on various jobs (illustration, graphic design, product design, package design, character design, etc.) each time. That's how I gradually expanded my skill range. I think that deepening various knowledge and experience in this way leads to the quality of the work.
Would you tell us more about your work culture and business philosophy?
I enrolled in the mechanical department of the engineering department of the university, but dropped out and re-entered a vocational school of design. Therefore, I think that when I graduated from university as it was, I became an engineer for a machine manufacturer somewhere.
What are your philanthropic contributions to society as a designer, artist and architect?
I think it's a work to create things and things that make you feel "rich feeling". It contains "love", "dream", and "hope".
What positive experiences you had when you attend the A’ Design Award?
I believed it was right to make a work that I was happy with. At one point, many people liked and purchased works that I didn't like. I realized that until then I was a lonely designer. I think that the person who bought it at this time made me who I am now.

Stay Updated with Latest Design News

By clicking Sign-Up, you are opting to receive promotional emails from A' Design Awards, World Design Rankings, World Design Consortium and Designers.Org You can update your preferences or unsubscribe any time.

You are now at the right step

Join & Start Promoting Your Design Worldwide.

Create an Account