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An independent magazine aimed at bringing works of the young and talented to the world.

ISSUE 28 October 2016

You WILL be rewarded a copy of Garde Magazine Anniversary Issue!

An independent magazine aimed at bringing the works of the young and talented to the whole world. Believing in ideas, thoughts and concepts, Garde Magazine follows the principle of simplicity and honesty.

FOUNDERS Cleo Tse Natasha Chan

CREATORS Roland The Illustrator

Ryuji Oguni

Jose Manuel Rios


Kalle Ă–stgĂĽrd

Ryuji Oguni Illustration Influencing through art Roland The Illustrator Illustration A need for balance

CONTENT Jose Manuel Rios Fine Art Never say never

David Madsen Movie Review - Autumn Lights


influencing through art

As a lot of people know, Japanese pop culture is huge and intricate with layer upon layers of specialised genres and subcultures. The creator in this article, Ryuji Oguni, is an illustrator from Osaka who draws his inspiration from one of the more specialised subcultures – the so-called “Chogokin” or “Super Alloy.”

 Chogokin, named after a trademarked metal alloy, is the term that describes aphenomena that started in the 1970’s. In 1972, Japanese toy manufacturer Popy launched a line of immensely popular action toys made out of the afore-mentioned metal, which ultimately left a deep mark in toys, manga and anime. The use of metal for toy-making more or less stopped after the 1980’s, but the themes of the Chogokin - unabashedly mechanical fighter robots remains a popular part of Japanese pop culture today. This is the world that Ryuji grew up in. His heroes were Kunio Okawara, mechanical designer of the Gundam “mobile suit” franchise (Western readers may recognise this concept from the del Toro movie “Pacific Rim”) Kou Yokoyama, an authority on scale models and illustration, and Kenichi Ishibashi, a package designer for toy cars. “They are still my heroes, and they’ve inspired me to create since I was a kid,” Ryuji says. With a childhood filled with watching Ultraman, Kamen Rider, Space Sheriff Gavan, and other tokusatsu shows (Japanese for “special filming,”

Ryuji Oguni - No title

referring to the many special effects used to portray the superhero vs supervillain/giant monster fights), Ryuji started playing around with drawing on his Mac at the age of 20, and gradually developed the style which he has now used for a few years. Ryuji studied drawing and 3D formative arts in college, and for a while he created minimalist art pieces using wood and iron. Occasionally, he will stray into more conventional subjects such as landscapes, portraits or animals, but in the end the culture of super alloy and scale models is where his passion lies. The themes include mechanics, science fiction and war. “My work is often of soldiers fighting against hardships in a future destroyed world. I like my paintings to convey the expanse of my stories. That moment is very satisfying- when people can see my paintings in this way.”

The high-tech dystopic theme is often paired with ancient Japanese style. Hearing musicians combining modern, foreign genres with traditional Japanese music, and the sometimes very original result that followed, is what inspired Ryuji to go in this direction. Consequently, picking out the influences in even a single one of his artworks can be a pleasantly challenging puzzle. Ryuji is currently publishing his own and other’s work in his own zine (non-profit, self-published magazine) named HIGHLIGHT. The hyper-detailed, starkly coloured illustrations look dashing in print, and Ryuji is thrilled by both the positive feedback and the chance to collaborate with other artists.

Ryuji Oguni - Illustration Zine “HIGHLIGHT” Diversion 2

Ryuji Oguni - Yokai Taisen Ezu - 妖怪対戦絵図 Collab With: FLYACE, Dynagon

Ryuji Oguni - No title

HIGHLIGHT was born 5 years ago, when Ryuji met the owner of a shop that sold zines. These zines greatly inspired him, and for a while he published an issue of HIGHLIGHT every 2-3 months. Currently, other work has prevented him from issuing as frequently, but Ryuji is keen to create new issues as soon as there is time. Apart from HIGHLIGHT, he reflects on the future direction of his work: “I’ve never put social messages or concepts in my artworks, but lately, Japanese social conditions are changing. I can’t say things are going well for us now, perhaps not for the rest of the world either. So I have made up my mind to try and influence the world through my art. It won’t be superficial – rather, many subtle impacts, which hopefully grows into a large one. Large enough to impact the whole world - that would make me happy.” In some ways, Ryuji’s dream is to go back to where it all started: “I would be delighted if I could work on character and mechanical design for films and original toys. I hope I can keep creating no matter how old I get.”

roland the illustratoR ILLUSTRATION

a need for balance

Many creative people have at one point found themselves in the all-toocommon situation of struggling to fit their art and passion into the demanding everyday world. Bills have to be paid and time has to be balanced, and sometimes the creative path seems very winding indeed. This article might serve as a little sunshine story, as we meet a creator who has managed to find that balance and satisfaction after a windy road of his own.

“amazing” tool as well as toy box, thanks to the ease of trying and failing.

Reaching this stage however was not a straight route. Ironically, the first detour came from art school itself. “It is hard to remember why I chose to do a BA in Fine Art, and not illustration or graphic design,” says Roland. “I was painting a lot in oils in my bedroom, can you imagine? Toxic. Anyhow, I guess that somehow tipped the balance. Central St. Martins is a famous art school in the Roland MacDonald is a heart of London, which was amazing, Londoner currently living and working but it was very anti-painting. I fought in Utrecht, the Netherlands. His with that for quite a while but eventually versatile portfolio spans many different engaged with the critical, conceptual, types of projects and shows off many and philosophy based program. I ended different types of illustration. Concept up doing well there but it was a side step art and game designs jostle up against really. It took me a long time to appreciate graphic novels, dreamy CD covers and what I actually learnt there. By the time watercolour food vignettes, among I left art school, I was no longer drawing others. Despite their varied appearance, and had quit all art within the year.” they are all created on Photoshop, his weapon of choice, which he ranks as an Instead, seemingly without

Roland The Illustrator - Shogun 2 This was my last project in a company but my first job being paid to draw. learning to digitally mimic Ukiyoe print and help art direct a project of this scale and reputation was a major boost to my skills both as an artist but also as a member of a team. Something many illustrators don’t get to experience. I am still very proud of the hundreds of pictures I made for this project even though it is far from my day to day work these days.

connection, Roland dove hard into cooking, and reached a level sufficient to work in a top restaurant. While there was scant time for drawing during those years, other lessons could be learned: “Hard work and focus are everything, helped along with a bit of passion. I don’t believe in talent at all anymore. Which is liberating. It means anything is possible. Cooking also taught me to play and to fail better.” Although cooking is not as unrelated to art as it might seem (Roland sees both as puzzles in which the goal is communication of one sort or another), Roland’s appetite was elsewhere. Switching tracks again, he jumped into an MA in Games Design and subsequently spent three years doing 3D modelling for a games studio. “What I experienced as a chef and as a games modeller was that, whilst they were creative as hobbies, they were just production when they were jobs. In most cases, at least in big teams, you are a cog making someone else’s creation. Whilst it is more collaborative than that, I knew I needed to be in a more creative/active role or to get out of games. It felt like a factory job to me. In a games company the role I coveted most was the concept artist position. I hadn’t drawn for years though, and while I wasn’t starting from scratch, I had to spend two years training myself very hard to get better.” It paid off. Roland was given the chance to draw concept art for the sequel to the popular “Shogun” PC strategy game. With this in his portfolio, he finally took the leap back to his old love – drawing – and became a freelancer. Since then, he has done both large and small projects (“‘money work’ that pays the bills but doesn’t make the portfolio,”) always using his trusty Photoshop. Client interaction is an important factor. “If they have the time and interest I will share my research materials with them and discuss potential approaches before I start working on drawings. It is important

Roland The Illustrator - Distant Lands This project was for regular client Imagem Music productions. The brief was to make an image that would work as a website banner but also as four individual album covers. Such a fun, challenging and whimsical project.

to really understand the client and their desires and expectations for the project. Then, as the specialist, you have to interpret that into images.” With such varied jobs, it can be hard to define a style, but as Roland sees it, “style is a weird thing. It is constantly evolving.” He does think that a portion of him is always in the work though, as “a graphic quality to the light and compositions, and a retro hint in the colour palette.” Perhaps the toughest part of all is that he also manages to take time to do personal projects, even if it sometimes takes up all of his nonworking hours! That’s the price to pay, however, since working without any breaks on a long, intensive project can make one lose practice on other types of design. “Suspicion,” for example, was done in Roland’s free hours to keep character design fresh in his mind whilst working on environments for a big commercial project. Although he works solo, every project has a client, which mean there’s always stories involving other people. One of Roland’s most memorable experiences comes from working with a Dutch theme park. At the end of the task - rebranding and character design - the park surprised him by bringing some of his characters to life as 1:1 mascots! “They were pretty creepy things!” Roland reminisces. Upcoming projects include an expansion for a board game, as well as a card game project (the latter a personal project). The dream project would be to work on an animated film, but Roland is very happy right where he is, “drawing, playing and getting paid to do it.” and interesting.”

Roland The Illustrator -Suspicion Box (Up), Suspicion weapons and rooms (bottom) Suspicion was conceived as a warm up exercise but became a full blown product that I use as a sort of business card or mail out item. On the next page: Roland The Illustrator - Taste A series of illustrations used for a taste profiler on a wine sellers website. By choosing a preference between two flavour a profile is built. Client didn’t want to use stock photography. Needed something appealing and sensual. A watercolour quality gave the right look and feel. So I had to adapt my style to work on these. They are digital though.


never say never

Meet Jose Manuel Rios, also known as El Pollo. Hailing from Chiapas, Mexico, this upbeat and try-anything character loves four things: illustration, music, football and Japanese cuisine. His free-spirit to do what he loves has remained since he was young as he continues to experiment with various styles and techniques in his designs.

newspaper contests throughout his school life. Eventually choosing the professional path of graphic design, Jose moved to Mexico City in 2008 to work for Mad Magazine Mexico.

But he never allowed himself to be tied down and constrained to one particular thing. If anything, Jose is an open-minded explorer and Jose says he drew a lot determined designer. He in kindergarten and elementary combined his passion for music school. He used to draw spiders with illustration when he had to scare his art teacher. He the fortunate experience of used to draw Dragon Ball and musicians approaching him to Spiderman when they became create band artwork for them. popular and he even entered

Right: Illustration by Manuel Rios

After a while, Jose then explored working for publicity agencies where he got involved with using his skills in advertising. However, once again he did not like the idea of being stuck in one field. “The office life did not let me draw all the time but instead I had to just do advertising campaigns for things I didn’t care about,” he said.

behave like advertisers and I don’t like that,” he said. “They [bands] should just do what they love without that pressure of marketing. What I have learned is that you should find a balance in doing what you like and doing things to earn money.”

He decided to become a freelance designer in 2014 instead and “since then, I’ve developed a Comparing designing love for ‘rotoscopic’ animation for musicians to designing for and kept practicing it. I’m always agencies, Jose says “working with growing, getting more clients and bands was always my favourite. I never stop drawing,” he added. You have freedom of creativity there, but sometimes bands Getting his inspiration

Left: Illustration by Manuel Rios

mainly from the internet, Jose says he loves to experiment with different styles. “That’s why there is so much diversification in my work – I get inspiration from trying to see how it would look if I tried some techniques I hadn’t used before,” he said. “I’m just playing around and trying to get a piece together. I don’t know how it will look like.” He certainly isn’t afraid to try new things and if he is, he dives deep into it anyway. Most of us can certainly learn this important life lesson.

intense. When he first has an idea he then directly draws it on the computer. He called his process “direct and improvised.” Speaking about his interest in ‘rotoscopic gifs,’ Jose said he’s always loved traditional animation. Always keeping up with the times since he was young (drawing Dragon Ball and Spiderman) he said rotoscopic gifs have become very popular nowadays. However, it’s no easy task. Jose admits he spends up to seven hours working on a 10 second rotoscopic gif.

Jose said his creative process in illustration is pretty straightforward but the effort is

His work process for rotoscopy is as follows: “I get the video I want to do, I edit it and

Right: Illustration by Manuel Rios

“You should find a

balance in doing what

you like and doing things to earn money.”

fit in the length of seconds I want it to be and then I draw it frame by frame,” he said. “On other kinds of gifs (like illustrated ones) I use Illustrator to draw what I want and make the frames. Then I put the frame on Photoshop and animate it.” Asked about what his most unforgettable project was so far it was difficult for Jose to single one out – there are too many! “Maybe the rotoscopic animations,” he said. Jose’s love for football led him to start making scenes about goals and introduced him to freelance at “” He also added that learning software during his years at Mad Magazine helped define his career. Sounding cheerful and content with his accomplishments so far (as he definitely should be), Jose said his ultimate goal was “to be relaxed about the future, have no financial worries and never stop learning.”

Left: Illustration by Manuel Rios

movie review autumn lights by david madsen



“While Angad Aulakh’s debut feature film has a clear vision, it often comes off as a short film stretched to 98 minutes.”

Smoking in Hollywood film productions is an art that has somewhat been lost to the times. Today it’s a character trait that mostly is used to either show that a character is bad in some form or another, to make them seem messed up or make a period film historically accurate. These Hollywood productions are interested in using smoking for what it represents either as a historical artifact or a subject of health issues hence why it is mostly associated with the bad guys of a given film. But there’s so much more you can use smoking for in a film, because there’s a million different motivations for and scenarios in which a given character would light a cigarette. It can highlight a need for socialising or solitude, it can show that the character is in a state of distress, happiness, loneliness or depression

Autumn Lights (2016), Last Carnival/Mystery. Directed by Angad Aulakh. Metacritic. com

and the act can be idealised, stylised or vilified. The newly released Autumn Lights very much gets this. Its characters will constantly be shown either smoking or drinking to emphasise a certain mood. In a meta contextual sense this use of smoking firmly establishes the film as produced outside of the Hollywood system. This is a factor which both works for and against the film. On one hand, it has allowed the debut director Angad Aulakh to go through with an uncompromised vision of his film. On the other hand, this vision isn’t particularly exciting as the film struggles to gain a foot hold mostly consisting of half-baked ideas that are rarely fully explored. The main plotline of Autumn Lights is solid enough: A young American photographer, David, is left by his girlfriend at their vacation home on Iceland and falls into chat with a local couple. The somewhat benign husband Johann and his Italian wife Marie seem content with one another at first, but as with any good thriller, cracks quickly appear at the surface, ready to burst. The plot mainly follows David as he gets to know the other two characters but will often switch to the estranged wife as she grows fonder of him. When the film has this main three-way conflict in focus, it works. The film’s cinematography beautifully captures the Icelandic nature from its slopes and valleys, the coal black beaches and peaceful forests not only creating a gorgeous backdrop for the film but also solidifying the sense of solitude and isolation such lonely surroundings bring with them.

Autumn Lights (2016), Last Carnival/Mystery. Directed by Angad Aulakh.

The shift in perspective from David to Marie means the audience gets an understanding of hers and Johann’s marriage both from an outside and inside perspective allowing the viewer to understand and sympathise with each side of the conflict. In other words, there’s no bad guy in Autumn Lights just people trying to stave off boredom and cabin fever trying to find some semblance of meaning or even love in the Icelandic wilderness. The dialogue is rather appropriate for this sedate setting as it appears to have a naturalistic approach. Everyone talks in a slow, deliberate way which in turn makes them more believable as people rather than roles out of the actant model. And going back to my point about the use of smoking, this once again helps to let us know the characters state of being and emotion at a given time without having to blurt it out. All of this means that Marie, Johann and David are interesting, flawed characters, who the audience cares about. The film’s themes of infidelity and the effects of loneliness is very much left for the audience itself to decipher as tensions rise but is communicated effectively through these three main characters and the beautifully shot setting.

Autumn Lights (2016), Last Carnival/Mystery. Directed by Angad Aulakh. Directly screen captured from the movie.

The problems start to occur when looking at everything that surrounds this main conflict. At the very beginning of the film an apparent suicide of a local woman sets up the film as a thriller and is used as a catalyst for David meeting up with Johann and Marie. It is a plot point that is mentioned frequently, but never goes anywhere and it almost seems like a way to lure the audience in, out of fear they wouldn’t find the main characters interesting enough in and of themselves. This creates a problem. Because when you create a setup in a film, the viewer will naturally assume and expect some kind of satisfying payoff. And it never comes. At best the “payoff ” for the whole ‘suicide’ plotline feels amateurish in execution

as the film frantically tries to make it seem more profound than it ever was by awkwardly tying it into the main conflict. If this was the film’s only problem I would have counted it as a minor quibble, but everything surrounding its solid core is on wobbly ground. The incidental characters who pop up don’t really add much to the story outside of some expository dialogue and while I do appreciate the cinematography the film itself seems completely in love with its own setting to a fault. So much of this film consists of scenes of people staring or walking around, contemplating and then cutting to another person starrng, contemplating. This excess in big wide shots of the landscape is as I said effective, but only to a point. I wouldn’t even call it pretentious; a lot of these scenes just come off as padding. And that’s the keyword. For a film that’s only 98 minutes long, it is clear that the director is used to tell his stories in a short film format. While the film certainly has an arc, there just isn’t enough here to fill out an entire feature film. There are bizarre scenes like two whole nudity scenes of Marie, which I’m not calling out to be a prude, it’s just… They don’t add anything. Neither does a sudden flashback to her time in Paris, a flashback that comes so out-of-left-field I barely even registered it before it was over. It’s clear that Aulakh tries to build a world around this core conflict to inhabit, thereby making it more believable, but none of these ancillary plot threads or scenes ultimately does this because they are so surface level. And it’s hard not to notice these issues when the film, in its final act, finally lets its main characters breathe by giving them intimate scenes which actually moves the main plot forward. But by that time it’s too little, too late and by the end of it I could more than anything relate to one of Marie’s emotional states: Boredom.

Autumn Lights (2016), Last Carnival/Mystery. Directed by Angad Aulakh. Directly screen captured from the movie.

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Garde Magazine #28  
Garde Magazine #28  

All illustrations with Japanese style from all around the world - and an indie film review all in this issue!