This is a pencil: hand-drawn illustrations by Tomoya Mizoguchi

Y’know those cute designs you see all over Japanese goods? There’s a high chance they came from the mind (and sketchpad) of illustrator Tomoya Mizoguchi.

The story behind the drawings

Mizoguchi-san’s official biography says he was born in Nagoya, in 1987. (Around the same age as most of the DEJAPAN team… except we haven’t designed any smartphone cases lately.)

While still at school, he won an illustration contest called ‘The Choice’, run by publisher Genkosha. Winning, and the work he got out of it, led him to places like Tokyo, Paris, and New York City.

He’s designed T-shirts and hoodies, CD covers, commercials, and LINE stamps. Now he works freelance, doing collabs with famous brands every so often. Sounds like a successful career to us.

What’s the secret? Try and find out, with the official ‘how to draw like Tomoya Mizoguchi’ book.

And yet, with all that fame and recognition, Mizoguchi-san seems like a normal guy. Or he would, if we could find any decent pics of him. For someone so well-known, he’s managed to hide from a lot of cameras. He’s on Twitter and Instagram a lot, but never uploads any selfies.

Even so, don’t miss those social media updates. Especially Insta, where he publishes loads of rare, fun doodles you won’t get to see anywhere else. Check out his drawings of the original 151 Pokemon!

Not gonna lie, we’d love to see these become a real Pokemon Centre collab.

Pencil style that’s individual, like a fingerprint

Typical ‘Tomoya Mizoguchi’ designs are simple, but you’re not gonna mistake them for anything else. Even with a few lines, it’s a super distinctive illustration style. Like how you can easily tell whose handwriting you’re reading, if you’ve seen it often enough.

(And, uh, look for the ‘Tomo’ signature in there somewhere, as well…)

Each fun design makes the items it covers feel even more useful for daily life. Express yourself with a colourful phone ring, or get the message across in only stamps and no words.

The stamp sets are out on sale through the LINE app internationally – search the sticker shop for ‘Tomoya Mizoguchi’ under the ‘Creators’ tab. They’re not free, but cool stuff rarely is.

And that’s before we get onto the clothes. Mostly T-shirts and hoodies, which can be kinda hard to find online outside of Village Vanguard. (Cool stuff, also not free, point proven.)

The combo of simple designs and block colours works… almost scarily well. It’s the essence of Mizoguchi-san’s style: ‘simplicity that holds impact’. That ‘basics’ look helps the illustrations stand out.

For some reason, there’s a ‘Tomoya Mizoguchi’ tag on Japan’s popular fashion app, WEAR. It has 2 search results. Both T-shirts – 1 shark and 1 bunny. Looks like fans are hoarding their collections, instead of displaying them.

This isn’t any old crap, y’know…

As you can guess from the massive amount of merch, Mizoguchi-san’s created a bunch of kawaii characters over the years. Mostly food: ebi fry, rice ball, towering bowl of rice, sushi, slices of bread, and gyoza.

But be warned – not all cute things can be eaten. One of the most common (and well-loved) characters is Unko-chan, the lovable poop.

There’s something about kawaii poops that people kinda love. Yep, we’re weirded out by saying that, but it’s true – they’ve been trending here in Japan for a while now. Why else would Unko Kanji Drills be so popular…

Unko-chan’s appeared on phone cases and mobile batteries, stickers, hoodies, keyrings, a LINE stamp telling us all to ‘eat it’, as Mizoguchi-san’s Twitter profile pic instead of his face, and the cover of his book.

DEJAPAN’s got your supply of hand-drawn kawaii

Put some illustrated fun in your life, with Tomoya Mizoguchi illustrated goods from Japan.

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