Skip to main content

Meet: Ryu Itadani


Written by
Eleanor Harvey
Published date
17 July 2020

Artist Ryu Itadani was born in Japan, before moving to London to study Graphic Design at Central Saint Martins (CSM) in 2000.  Ryu’s practice is painting, and his work varies between vibrant colour and monochrome paintings, often of cities or nature, but also of smaller individual objects.

Ryu is currently based in Berlin, and here he shares some advice on being an artist in the city, and the work he’s been creating over the last 3 months.

Ryu infront of his work on exhibition
Image courtesy of Ry Itadani

You studied Graphic Design at CSM, why did you choose to study in London, and at CSM in particular?

When I travelled to London the first time, I really enjoyed the time being there and loved the city a lot. Then back in Tokyo, I have heard about CSM through a fashion designer who is a CSM graduate.

I thought about studying at CSM was a good excuse to live in London as a foreigner.

I was not 100% sure what I wanted to study, so I went to a Foundation course at CSM.

Although some of my friends mentioned that my style has not changed since the foundation course, I really had a great time there. After the foundation, I studied Graphic Design (Illustration).

Because CSM was located in Central London (Holborn), I could easily access to many places, it was a huge advantage.

Bright painting of London
Image courtesy of Ry Itadani

What are your fondest memories of CSM?

A school trip to Morocco, and having a chance to see my classmates’ works and the process of making their works.

Black and white painting on a white wall
Image courtesy of Ry Itadani

You work in vibrant colour and then in monochrome. What affects your choice when preparing to undertake a new painting?

When I have done 4-5 colour paintings, there is too much colour, I feel. In that case, I will start working in monochrome. After doing 2-3 black & white paintings, I feel I need some colours. I basically keep repeating this work process.

2 paintings of a city
Image courtesy of Ry Itadani

Tell us about your painting technique and the different stages of paint application?

I normally take photos first. Those photos are everyday/normal/daily things around me, nothing is special. Then, I combine some of the photos in my head to make a painting.

Sometimes, I make a quick sketch before start painting. First of all, I draw lines then colour and draw lines over.

Triptych of paintings of a cityscape
Image courtesy of Ry Itadani

What paints do you use?

I use acrylic paints (Liquitex, GOLDEN, Lascaux and Schmincke).

Photo of Ryu's work in window
Image courtesy of Ry Itadani

What advice would you give to an artist wanting to set up their practice in Berlin?

Berlin is a really good place to live but sometimes the city is too relaxed to work. If you already know what you like to do, you can focus on what you like to do without any disruption. Also, it's nice if you have some connections outside Berlin. As a base, Berlin is a really great city. Still no direct flight to Tokyo, but good access to other European cities.

Collection of paintings of familiar objects from around the house.
Collection of the recent 'Drawing from Home' project by Ryu Itadani.

How have you been keeping busy during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Actually, Berlin was not really locked down like London or Paris. I was able to go to my studio but I tried to stay at home. Therefore, I needed to do something at home.

There are 2 ways to make my artwork; one is painting on canvas. The other one is drawing on paper by using a pen, scanning the image and colouring by Photoshop.

It was quite difficult to work on both ways at home, so I needed to think of a new way. I came up with an idea to make the whole process digital format. 100% digital. At the same time, I was looking for a good excuse to have an iPad Pro & Apple Pencil. I thought these two could connect. Then, the iPad Pro & Apple Pencil came home.

I have started a project “Drawing_At_Home”. There are 3 conditions for me to make a drawing.

  1. A thing you can find at home.
  2. The size you can hold.
  3. Post on Instagram

So far, there are about 100 drawings.

Because these conditions were made during very strange circumstances, these conditions may be changed in the future. Hope I will be able to draw not only at home but also everywhere.

Colourful painting of a cityscape
Image courtesy of Ry Itadani

What are your plans for the future and what do you have coming up?

I have always liked the normal daily life. I am looking forward to see how my new-normal daily life will shape my normal daily life.

I am also planning to show my recent work at ART BUSAN at the booth of Gallery Irritum. Art Busan will be held in the port city of Busan, the second largest city in Korea, from 4 – 8 November 2020.

Also, I have a project in Tokyo, Japan and a group exhibition in Seoul, Korea.

The details will be announced on my website and my Facebook page.

Relevant links