REIGN OF TERRA
Every clothes shop in the world has t-shirts with random Japanese
lettering, but very few have cool original artwork accompanying it.
TERRATAG does. Not just clothing either, high-quality
prints and canvases featuring Japanese-inspired work are produced by
this London-based artist. And it does not stop here - TERRATAG
has worked with Production I.G, Harvey Nichols, Sony, Manga
Entertainment and Aphex Twin and is a major influence on the UK anime
scene and has a worldwide fanbase.
From the moment he saw the cover to the 80's electro-rock record Flaunt
It by Sigue Sigue Sputnik (click
here to view), TERRATAG was
hooked on all things Japanese. He went on to discover manga and
anime until forming his studio in 2002, dedicated to created vibrant
Terratag started University in 1989 and decided for his first
term of his first year that he would do his thesis on anime and manga,
entitled A socio-cultural assessment of the Japanese Comic. He the
spent the best part of three years researching many aspects of Japanese
history, arts and culture. Through his research he met Helen McCarthy,
co-author on The Anime Encyclopaedia, and became a member of Anime UK.
Back in the early '90s the scene was much smaller and monthly meetings
would be in Helen McCarthy's living room, with only around twelve people
gathered around the TV watching imported laser discs whilst Helen
McCarthy read the synopsis of each anime. This was well before the
internet had taken off, no torrents and the like in those days!
Whilst at University Terratag became mates with the musician
Aphex Twin and ended up going on tour and designing his logo (click
here to see the logo).
It was around the same time he won a competition, announced over pirate
radio, to design a logo for a techno club called Knowledge. From
these projects more work rolled in and marked about 8 years or so of
creating graphics for the music industry. Other clients included
Andrew Weatherall, Global Communication, MuZiq Orbital, Warp Records and
After graduating from University he became Prototype 21. Prototype
21 was and still is a design and T-shirt print company where Terratag
is responsible for the creative output. From 1993 to 2002
Prototype 21 was also the brand name of a T-shirt and clothing brand -
the forerunner to Terratag.
THE LAUGHING MAN
One of the most recognisable icons from modern anime, Terratag
was approached by Production I.G to produce this image for the
series Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex. In the series,
The Laughing Man is a hacker which hacks into people's visual
programming and they see this image obscuring faces.
It is a terrifying thought that such a happy image could infiltrate people's
minds in the near future.
The story of how Terratag got the Ghost In The Shell gig is
as intriguing as the image itself. 5 years ago he did design
work for Japanese game & music label Frognation and sent out loads
of stickers promoting Terratag in the process. Dai
Sato, the script editor for Stand Alone Complex, had one of these
stickers on his laptop which was in turn spotted by director Kenji
Kamiyama. Kamiyama then contacted Terratag has he liked
the mix of Western & Japanese influences in the work he saw and
asked him to red the short story 'The Laughing Man' by J D Salinger.
The story focusing around a baseball team, which is where the cap of
the face in the image comes from. The quote 'I thought what
I'd do was, I'd pretend I was one of those deaf-mutes' is from
Salinger's more well-known work The Catcher In The Rye. The
original text follows the quote with 'That way I wouldn't have to
have any goddamn stupid useless conversations with anybody. If
anybody wanted to tell me something they'd have to write it on a
piece of paper and shove it over to me. They'd get bored as hell
doing that after a while, and then I'd be through with having
conversations for the rest of my life.' The relevance of this
to Stand Alone Complex makes much more sense when you have seen the
series in full.