Terrell Davis is a new media artist who, at the age of 17, has made a name for himself designing 3D-modeled album covers, digital collages, and VR worlds like his virtual art exhibition space, Tensquared Gallery. Davis’s contribution to the new MASSIVE collection features a Jiraiya illustration of a beefy priest (originally commissioned by Japanese male escort service G.G. Group) alongside a bevy of 3D objects paying homage to the renowned gay Japanese artist. The resulting T-shirt has the atmosphere of a MASSIVE dreamscape.
To celebrate their collaboration, we asked Davis to interview Jiraiya. They met briefly at Opening Ceremony during Jiraiya’s U.S. tour last spring, but this is the first extended conversation between the two artists.
Terrell Davis: Where are you from? Does the place you live inspire you? Better yet, where do you find the inspiration of your illustrations?
Jiraiya: I live where I was born, in a city called Sapporo, in Hokkaido Japan.
Hokkaido as a region has yielded a lot of great mangaka. I always joke this is because the Winters here are so long and cold, with so much snow, that there’s nothing to do but stay locked up in your house and draw. LOL
In Sapporo, there’s an entertainment district (daikoraku) called Susukino. You can count on three fingers how many such districts there still are in Japan. I was born and raised there, and as a toddler, for example, my next door neighbor was a transvestite man who’d dress as a woman, and there were gay porn magazines lined up in plain view at the local bookstore. It was a relatively out and gay area. That may very well have influenced me.
My art is influenced by everything I’ve seen, heard and experienced in my life, and if I’d been born or grew up somewhere else I would have draw different things, but I couldn’t say myself what exactly has influenced me.
Terrell Davis: I know you’re illustrative career goes back to the 90s, how has your creative process changed from then to now? Is there anything you do differently now than before?
Jiraiya: I started drawing gay porn in 1998, and since then, the
artwork looks different on first sight, but my methods haven’t changed at all.
I’ve been drawing for as long as I’ve been able to think, since around the age
of 4 or 5, so I figured out my methods really early on.
I started drawing on my computer around 1995 or 1996, and that was a hugely transitional year for me, but my feelings toward the art and the way I put pen to paper hasn’t changed.
Terrell Davis: As an artist, I look up to you as an inspiration. When you were starting out, who were people you looked up to?
Jiraiya: I am easily influenced by all great art, so there are too many people to name! LOL. If I were to start listing people I’ve been inspired by, am in awe of, in no particular order, it’d be:
Mangaka: Osamu Tezuka, Shotaro Ishinomori, Jiro Kuwata, Tetsuya Chiba, Yoshiharu Tsuge, Katsuhiro Otomo, Moebius, Taiyo Matsumoto, Suehiro Maruo, Goseki Kojima, Sanpei Shirato, Alexander Ross, Steve Ditko, Jack Kirkby.
Illustrators: Noriyoshi Orai, Hiroshi Ooba, Masashi Yamazaki, Frank Frazetta, Richard Corben.
Painters: Reubens, Kilmt, Goya, Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Velasquez, Vermeer.
Actually I can’t list them all. There are way too many.
Terrell Davis: The men you depict in your drawings seem to be everyday men, with jobs and hobbies ranging from farmers to your daily gym goer. Do you ever see the type of men you depict in real life?
Jiraiya: My motivation for drawing men is to inspire the reader or viewer to thinking “I feel like I’ve seen that guy somewhere before. Like I know him…” so for you to tell me they seem familiar makes me really happy.
There are probably not as many guys like this in Japan as in North America or Europe but I do occasionally see monster diesel types here. When I do see them at the gym or on the street, I instinctively gauge their height, weight, age and other factors, and burn the image permanently into my brain. (Laughs)
Terrell Davis: How has working with MASSIVE been to you? I see you have a great relationship with the brand as well as Graham and Anne personally.
Jiraiya: There aren’t words for how grateful I am to the two at Massive and all their recognition of my work. I heard from so many Asian Americans during my 2015 March trip to the US, “Jiraiya’s art has helped me gain self-respect, self-confidence.” That was truly astonishing and such an honor for me. I learned that my work has a profoundly different role in America than in my native Japan, and I want to do everything I can to help Anne and Graham continue to do this work in America for me. Those who send requests and proposals for gay-oriented illustration and manga are al very respectful of the “artist known as Jiraiya” and I love working with everyone because they’ve helped me to grow smoothly as an artist.
Jiraiya and Terrell Davis at Opening Ceremony NYC in March 2015.