How can I become a creator?
This is a question often posed to Wacom’s team members who interact with customers and are engaged in communities. According to the "White Paper for Elementary School Students Web Edition" by the Gakken Institute of Education (September 2022 survey), professions like manga artists and illustrators are among the top choices for children's future careers. With evolving social changes, such as the growth of digital infrastructure and the expanding international content market, it's only natural for children to aspire to become creators.
In response to this trend, local communities and educational institutions are starting to take more steps to nurture creative talent. The aspirations of these young individuals to become creators have truly inspired Wacom’s team members and is a major contributing factor driving various initiatives. Yasuhiro Todoroki, an evangelist on the BtoB Enterprise Lead Management team, is one such person who is extremely committed to cultivating creative talent. He devotes his energy to collaborating with professional animators so children have more hands-on opportunities to nurture and grow their artistic aspirations.
What kind of initiatives are you involved in with Kinko Town?
Todoroki: In December 2022, we collaborated with the MIRAI(future) creation project in Kinko Town, Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan, to conduct a workshop for children interested in animation production. Approximately 15 children took part in this workshop, all ranging from upper elementary to high school students. During the workshop, they received guidance from professional animators, added color to previously created drawings, and learned the technique of "inbetweening" to introduce movement into their drawings.
The process of inbetweening, or tweening, is typically a challenging skill that one acquires after going through specialized animation training. However, with the support of digital tools, even children can easily get a taste of the process. Once they grasped the fundamentals, they quickly became proficient and were able to create a simple animation in just half a day. While the workshop provided them with only a glimpse of the extensive work involved in animation, I believe it allowed them to appreciate that each frame is crafted by hand and requires labor-intensive efforts.
Our collaboration with Kinko town's MIRAI Creation Project was originally conceived as a special project, but the event received such positive feedback that we decided to hold it again the following year. We hope that the children found inspiration in learning about the professional production process and receiving constructive feedback on their finished works. Our aim is to instill in them the belief that they can turn their passion into a career.
What was the driving force behind launching this initiative?
Todoroki: It all began when we received a request from a manga artist who had participated in a workcation as part of a regional revitalization project in Kinko Town. The workshop he conducted was very well received, and thanks to the manga artist's desire to contribute to the vibrancy of Kinko Town and the enthusiasm of Kinko Town's Future Development Department, we were able to turn this idea into a reality. After learning that Hideo Uda, the president of Noovo Inc., an animation planning and production company had ties to Kagoshima, we decided to collaborate with him. We believe it's essential to work with creators and studios connected to the local region.
How did the children react to this initiative?
Todoroki: The children's response was overwhelming! Their expressions of sheer delight and the sparkle in their eyes said it all. Children these days are digital natives so digital tools are already a familiar part of their world. I sensed that by merging the joy of expressing their own ideas and creativity with these tools, they could instantly dive into the realm of creativity. I hope that the experience we provided will become a cherished memory for these children as they encounter animation works in the future.
We also received inquiries from parents about supporting their children's aspirations of becoming creators. It's only natural for parents to desire a stable and lasting career for their children when considering their future. I reassured them that creators are technical professionals, and with the right skills, they can sustain a career in this field for 40 or even 50 years. I'd like to encourage both children and parents to believe that pursuing their passions can lead to a fulfilling job and to motivate them to start honing their skills as early as possible.
It appears that there are other initiatives underway within the local community.
Todoroki: Indeed. Children represent the future of the creative industry and we want to give them the chance to pursue careers as creators. To fulfill this vision, our Creative Business Unit has been collaborating with local governments and industry professionals to organize workshops all over Japan. These workshops provide introductory, hands-on courses in fields like manga, illustration, animation, computer graphics, and more. Wacom supports these initiatives by facilitating partnerships with local governments, connecting them with creators and studios, and supplying the necessary equipment.
As digital and transportation infrastructure continues to advance, the path to becoming a creator is becoming more accessible because, more than ever before, we are able to give people freedom in environments and locations where creations begin. Considering my own background in a rural area, I'm particularly motivated to nurture as many talented creators as possible from such regions. By fostering local awareness of the creative endeavors of these artists, I hope to collaborate with the local community to create an environment that encourages children to embrace creativity, with all the challenges and beauty that come with it.
Tell us your thoughts on how you support children who are aspiring creators.
Todoroki: Many renowned creators are individuals who have harbored a deep love for drawing since childhood. They consistently honed their skills and eventually turned it into a profession. When I observe the creativity, drawing speed, and productivity of these professional creators, it's evident that they have dedicated a significant part of their lives to drawing. I want to persistently convey the message to children aspiring to become creators that their passions can indeed lead to a rewarding career, and that drawing can evolve into a skill.
The realm of creativity is exceptionally enjoyable. I want to help create opportunities for children to engage in this world for an extended period of time. Above all, I have a genuine affinity for connecting with people and engaging in conversations. It would bring me great joy to see more works produced through Wacom products, inspiring local creators and children, and ultimately brightening the world.