Spotlight: Masafumi Inaba, Art Director at Thomas Manns & Company

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"I'm a Japanese graphic designer specialized in branding, book design and editorial design.
I'm also co-founder of Art Glossary Magazine and a founder of Sakura Front, a Japanese charity project."

Masafumi Inaba

Masafumi Inaba
Art Director
Thomas Manss & Company
LinkedIn: Masafumi Inaba


Describe your work in 140 characters.

Minimal and sophisticated design with Japanese craftsmanship.


What makes you stand out from the crowd?

Before I start to design, I spend more time clarifying the client's problem and writing down concept words to solve the problem.

Once the problem and solution are clear, the design is usually made much stronger.


What excites you most about being a creative?

It is always a pleasure to see how my ideas become reality.

I also like choosing typefaces from my long font list.


How long have you been working as a creative?

My very first job offer was a logo designer for an aviation company while I was studying in Oregon, USA.

It's been over 8 years since I got that job.


What got you started in the creative industry?

It was a bit of drama when I got a job at Thomas Manss & Company.

It's been always my dream to work abroad as a designer.

After the Lehman shock, I thought it was a good opportunity to leave Japan again, but everyone was laughing at me because no one would quite their jobs at that moment.

Rather than staying in the same company I decided to pursue my dream.

After coming to the UK I spent a lot of my time studying graphic design.

Then 3 weeks after my graduation, I achieved my goal.

I got a job offer immediately after an interview with Thomas Manss & Company.


Tell us about some of the campaigns you've worked on...



What's been your favourite to work on?

Maserati Torfeo car sticker design for Bowers & WIlikins.

It was such an exciting moment to see the image of the Maserati with my sticker design, but it is a bit of a shame that I didn't have the opportunity to see the car at the end of it.


If you could work on any project for any brand, what would it be and who would it be for?

My research in my MA course was about sound visualization, so I would like to try my hand at designing album jackets.


What's been the most important lesson learnt so far?

Communication is the most important skill in design.

If you don't get along with your clients and colleagues the results will turn out badly, however talented a desginer you are.


What frustrates you the most about your line of work?

In Europe, there are more chances to work in multi languages.

It is quite hard to learn the typesetting for each language and multi-language layouts get complicated very quickly.


What's the best advice you've ever heard?

Design is not just what it looks like. Design is how it works.
by Steve Jobs


What recent bit of advertising has cut through the clutter and stopped you in your tracks recently?

The big iPad Mini advertising on the underground.

The advert was about 5m - 6m long, but you only see the name of the product and a small part of the iPad. From a distance it looks like a blank advert which really highlights the amount of visual information we generally consume every day.


What's your favourite bit of advertising ever?

Volkswagen beetle.

It is amazing that the adverts tell the same message constantly from the first advert.

It's also impressive that there are so many visual ideas that convey the message that the Beetle is small.


What gadget, gizmo, or tool can't you live without?

Paper, pencil, ruler. How can I design without them?


Got a favourite app?

Spotify, Filpboard, Kinoppy(Japanese book store app).

I found the ebook app is very useful as you can buy the latest Japanese books and magazines
at regular prices. 


Tell us something random about you that will shock our readers

I'm a designer during the day, but become a Ninja at night.


If you could choose your own super power, what would it be, and why?

Teleportation because I could see my friends and family anytime I chose.


Where would you go in a time machine?

I would like to go and meet a real samurai.



A big thank you to Masafuni for letting us into his head and showing some of his design work. Take a look at his profile and connect with him to make sure you're first to see what he's creating next.



If you'd like to be selected for a Spotlight interview get in touch, with a link to your profile.




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